How to Celebrate Halloween in the Office

Ghost stories, jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, and haunted houses - the reasons to love Halloween are endless. And for tens of millions of people, it's the clear favorite for best holiday of the year. The appeal of the costumes, candy and decorations led consumers to spend $10.1B on Halloween in 2021. And 65% of adults planned to celebrate last year, according to the NRF. And before you say that Halloween in the office is a different story, consider a Zippia survey found 57% of workers said their company will celebrate Halloween but 77% said they would enjoy a Halloween work party. Before you send out blood-drenched party invites and play “Monster Mash” on full blast, take in this guide on how to celebrate Halloween in the office.

Order Local Halloween Catering

Halloween parties provide a great opportunity for some creative catering options. Candy will obviously be pretty popular but that's not enough! While the holiday doesn't really have specific dishes that it's known for (unless you're a vampire or zombie), you can offer some more festive options to go along with a buffet-style spread or individually-packaged meals. Some restaurants will be able to offer special Halloween-themed treats like cookies or cupcakes that will definitely get everyone in the spooky spirit! CaterCow features a huge array of highly vetted local restaurants so you can prepare a spread for the entire office with a few clicks.

Quick Halloween History Lesson

Halloween celebrations are traced back to the early centuries, as Christians held candlelit vigils before large feasts. The All Hallows' Day (All Saints' Day) feast was on November 1, so October 31 became a date of consistent celebration. In America, it wasn’t until the 19th century when massive waves of Irish and Scottish immigrants began to spread the tradition’s popularity.

The concept of trick-or-treating and wearing costumes slowly gained popularity over the next 100 years, eventually spreading worldwide via American influence. Today, Halloween permeates culture with complementary music, food, movies, and the engineering marvel known as Spirit stores that pop up overnight.

Lastly, over the past decade or so, Halloween has gone through a so-called “adultification.” Costumes, events and office celebrations became the norm. While some might say this trend represents the overwhelming commercialisation of our society - others simply know how fun it is to wear a goofy costume and eat zombie brains made with rice krispies. With that said, it’s important to cover your bases before planning a Halloween celebration at the office.

First Things First - Halloween at the Office

Most in-office holiday celebrations warrant some pre-communication, and Halloween is no different. Keep these things in mind as you plan the festivities.

Create clear policies - Define the do’s and don’ts before encouraging adults to play dress up. Set costume guidelines, explain in detail what activities are planned so everyone can prepare…or not.

Think accessibility and inclusivity - Policies should include multiple ways for people to get involved. For example, if there's a costume contest, allow employees to decorate their desk or office door as an alternative. If there’s cooking involved, account for allergies and religious protocols.

Optional participation - Avoid a total mandate on participation. Despite its popularity, not everyone celebrates Halloween for various reasons. However, you can likely increase participation by offering a universally-loved perk - more on that below.

Order Not-So-Scary Catering Meals

Your team won’t be able to eat candy for the entire day. Use CaterCow to order a safe, healthy and delicious meal for breakfast or lunch. While you might not be able to find something that truly represents Halloween, it’s a great excuse to support local, small businesses.

You can filter orders by food type, minority-owned businesses and more. Whether your office celebration is a massive ordeal, or a small get together - CaterCow makes it easy for everyone to share a meal together.

Guess the Candy Count

The large inventory of candy on-hand is a great excuse to set up a guessing game. Find a large jar (or even better, a company related prop) and fill it with small but structurally sound candies.

Award the winner a gift card or treat. Throw in some runner-up and third-place prizes too. Sweeten the deal by introducing the game using your best Count von Count impression!

Side note: The uber competitive types will likely find this Institute of Mathematics post on how to improve their guessing odds. Use smaller candies to even the playing field, or institute something truly diabolical - place an item in the middle of the jar to mix it up!

Paint Skulls

We can’t in good conscience recommend pumpkin-related activities. Even the most responsible carvers are likely to leave an unnecessary mess for the cleaning crew.

But if your team is an arts and crafts bunch, set up some stations for ceramic skull painting. Tutorials are easy to follow online, and this tradition celebrates a holiday similar to Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Unique Candy Contest

There are sure to be Reese’s and M&M’s galore and any office event, spice things up by encouraging employees to bring their most unique candy selection.

Tell employees to bring a unique candy from their childhood, something that reminds them of home, a homemade creation or just the goofiest thing they can find in the candy aisle.

Best Costume Contest (or Desk/Door)

Ultimately, it won’t feel like a legit Halloween bash without someone walking around dressed like Rufio or Dwight from The Office. Costume contests are still king, and there’s more possibilities every year with the popularity of memes, GIFs and reality TV..

Remember to keep things interesting by offering awards in creative ways - avoid a blanket “best costume” award. Create a first-place prize for Most Creative, Funniest, Most Clever, etc.

Also don’t forget to add desk and door decorating to the mix. This gives people the opportunity to participate if they don’t feel like dressing up. It also gives parents the chance to get their kids involved by letting them help decorate.

Background Movie Marathon

If there’s a TV, screen or projector around the office it’s a great excuse to cycle through Halloween movies. Play some classics on mute with subtitles to keep people entertained throughout the day.

Bonus: If you decide to host a trivia competition, create questions based on the movies shown during the day.

Let Employees Go Home Early (Especially Parents)

As mentioned above, one trick for keeping employees happy and encouraging participation is to let folks go home early. This gives parents the opportunity to prepare for trick-or-treating festivities. Other employees can plan a happy hour together or simply take the time for themselves. Either way, it’s a great idea when the day is set to be abnormal.

Happy Halloween!

Fun facts about Halloween

  • Candy corn was originally called Chicken Feed
  • Michael Myers' mask is actually a William Shatner mask
  • Jack-o'-lanterns were inspired by the Irish legend of "Stingy Jack."
  • Based on sales data collected by Candystore.com, Reese's Cups were America's favorite Halloween candy in 2021

Decorations

Activity Ideas

  • Horror Movie Trivia
  • Paint Skulls
  • Guess the Candy Count in a Jar

Playlist