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Yes, it’s true. We’ve been anti-Halloween office party in the past.

We know, we know – Bah humbug! That’s not the right holiday, but you know what we’re trying to say.

Before you throw us into the witch’s cauldron, let us explain: It’s not that we are anti-Halloween. It’s just that some people are offended by All Hollow’s Eve or it just isn’t for them. So we’ve suggested hosting an alternative office celebration as a way to please everyone.

In the past, we’ve recommended a fall party. (Who doesn’t love fall?) But that’s not the only other option out there.

So we’d like to share a few fun alternatives to the traditional Halloween office party for your consideration.

Alternatives to the Traditional Halloween Office Party:

1. Trunk or Treating

Why it’s a treat: Family-friendly event
If you’ve been in a time warp for the past few years, trunk or treating is basically trick or treating from car trunks instead of houses. This could be a fun event for you and your employees to host. Coordinate a time & date with your employees, invite their young family members & your office neighbors, and stock up your trunks for a fun, family-friendly event. Just be sure to let employees know their participation is optional —and don’t eat all the candy! It’s for the kids!
Variation: Replace car trunks with your desks: Decorate your cubicles, set up candy stations at each desk & invite kids to come through the office for their treats!

2. Trick or Treating for underprivileged kids at office

Why it’s a treat: Not only is fun for your employees, but also gives back to children in the community
Speaking of trick or treating, how about hosting a trick or treating event at your office for local underprivileged children? Talk to local non-profit organizations, adoption agencies, and family service organizations about arranging the event. Like our first suggestion, you could host a trunk or treat or have the kids go from desk to desk. Combining fun and philanthropy: what could be a better way to celebrate?

3. Costume contest

Why it’s a treat: Fun without interrupting too much productivity
Let’s say you want your employees to have a good time celebrating, but you also want them to, you know, get some work done. A fun way to do this is to encourage (but not require) employees to come to work dressed in costume and have a costume contest. You can invite all of those who wish to enter to come to a certain place at a certain time & have a panel of judges pick their favorite. Or, if you really want to streamline the process, you can have an HR or administrative professional walk around the office at a pre-determined time and take photos of all the costumes. Then, the judges pick their favorite based on the pictures (Plus, the photos would be fun for social media posts or other branding initiatives!) Just don’t forget to let the participants know who won via e-mail!

A few things to remember:

  • Costumes at the workplace can be tricky. It’s important to clearly communicate your costume dress code guidelines and expectations to employees prior to the event. For more info on costume guidelines read our past blog.
  • Remember not everyone will want to dress up. Don’t require employees to wear them and don’t require those dressed up to participate in the contest.
  • Be sure to communicate the time and location of the contest to all employees so those who want to participate can.
  • Keep it fun — you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by an overly competitive “judging.” A good way to do it is to have multiple categories such as “Scariest costume,” “Best overall costume,” “Most original costume,” etc.

4. Festive Lunch

Why it’s a treat: Free food. Need we say more?
Maybe all this hocus pocus just isn’t your thing. That’s okay! A really simple way to celebrate is by providing food! Bonus points for festive options such as Halloween cupcakes, pumpkin pie, or any treat that’s made to look like a monster or goblin. Maybe you have the whole team eat pizza with a Halloween-themed dessert together at lunch time. Or maybe you stock the break room with tons of candy for employees to grab as they go. Either way, nobody will be boo-ing your efforts. Trust us.

5. Fall Celebration

Why it’s a treat: Appeals to all -if not almost all- of your employees
We know we mentioned this one in the intro, but we couldn’t make the list without it! Fall celebrations are great — they’re timely, fun & free of the costume hassle! Fun activities like a seasonal potluck lunch, pumpkin carving or a pie baking contest are sure to please the masses. Did we mention it is fun?

There you go: 5 fun alternatives to the usual Halloween office party!

Remember, these are all just suggestions. Only you know what would be appropriate for your work culture and situation.

Maybe you want to stick with the Halloween party. That’s fine. Or maybe you will just put out a candy bowl in the lobby, that’s fine too.

The trick is finding what would be the biggest treat for your company and your employees.

Whatever you choose, remember to keep legal and safety issues in mind (We couldn’t go a whole post without mentioning that, of course!) Visit our past blog to learn more about costume and party guidelines at the workplace.

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.