4 Tips for Halloween Costumes at Work

Happy Halloween!

Some workplaces allow employees to dress up or celebrate this spookiest of holidays.  If you’re lucky enough to have this kind of boss, I congratulate you!

Of course, you’re still at work.   What you might do at a giant Halloween bash could be totally wrong in your place of employment.  So here, in no particular order, are a few things to remember about your Halloween costume at work.

#4–Pick an appropriate costume

Now is not the time to break out your Obama-carrying-Romney’s-head-on-a-platter costume.  (Feel free to borrow that idea, but if you do, tweet me a pic and I’ll post it here.  I’m @DameWritesalot.)  Politically-charged anything at work is a bad idea.

No slutty Angry Birds, either.  Cleavage, skirts that stop just short of panties, banana hammocks, etc. don’t belong in the office.  Some people might be tempted to wear their anime cosplay outfits.  That’s fine, unless you’re revealing something only your doctor should see.

Very well done. But save it for the cons.

Image: Tabercil / Wikimedia Commons

#3–Remember you still have to be physically able to work

An elaborate costume with hydraulics, special effects, or that restricts your movement should wait for the big party.  It might cause a hazard in the office.  If it squirts anything, your coworkers who elected not to dress up will be mad at you if fake blood ruins their office clothes or sullies their TPS reports.

You need to see your screen.  You need to hear your phone, and you will have to use your keyboard or mouse.  If you’re in a workshop or factory atmosphere, costumes will probably be banned for safety reasons.  Don’t circumvent them.

Anything wide and tall may also cause problems.  If your office doesn’t have recessed lighting, you’ll spend the day ducking fixtures.  You’ll knock over people’s coffee cups, hit them in the head, and generally inspire rage fests against you.  Rage fests might inspire practical jokes that will only end in tears.

“Let’s set his wings on fire in the parking lot.”

Image: istolethetv / Flickr.com

#2–Be sensitive to those who are chicken

Excessive gore needs to stay at home.  I’m fine with it, but Nancy the accountant may be rendered comatose by the anatomically-correct intestines spilling out of your shirt front.

Yeah, you’re not getting invited to any client lunches today.

Image: Amazon.com

A little blood or a blue zombie face is cool.  Just try to stay away from anything that would make someone throw up.

#1—Avoid just plain silliness


Image: Jnghiem / Wikimedia Commons

You’re still at work.  Just because your employer loves Halloween doesn’t mean that clients will, or vendors.  You still may have meetings or teleconferences.  You still want to be taken seriously.  At least this person can remove the head for such things, although this costume may cause #3 scenarios.

Clever, however, is fine.  A coworker once showed up with tiny Kellogg’s boxes pasted to her clothes.  Each box had a red smear on it, with a plastic knife protruding.  I asked her what she was and she replied, “A cereal killer.”  Yes, I laughed.  And applauded.


Simple, clean, and effective are your watchwords for costumes at work.  One year I had nothing, so I put a temporary tattoo of a bullet hole on my forehead and wore pale lipstick and my regular clothes.  People’s reactions when they spotted the tattoo filled me with Halloween glee.  Even a small detail can make a costume.  Just be yourself, only scarier.

“Gina, you’re not participati—GAH!”

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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4 thoughts on “4 Tips for Halloween Costumes at Work

  1. Thanks for the linkback! 🙂 I LOVE this article – you have a great sense of humor! I was wondering just this morning what exactly is office-appropo for Halloween, and I think you covered it nicely. Great post!

  2. You forgot one rule that really chaps my ass. Never ever dress as another culture. Black face is never appropriate and I think we all know that. Dressing up as a Geisha, Mexican, Native American is no different. Be respectful of others.

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