Halloween is one of my favorite evenings of the year. It’s such a fun night with everyone dressed up as something they would never wear in real life. Everyone is in good spirits and I love the “scary” element of it all.

However, is it appropriate to dress up at the office? The older I get, the more boring I seem to get, so over the last few years my costume has consisted of a black witch hat paired with regular old office clothes. Exciting, I know.

If your office does decide to encourage costumes, there are certainly some guidelines to follow. SHRM set forth the following Do’s and Don’ts, which I think are very useful if you are going to allow Halloween costumes and parties:

  • Clearly communicate costume guidelines in advance.
  • Provide examples of inappropriate costumes for the workplace, such as costumes that exaggerate body parts, those that reveal too much of the body, men and women dressed as the opposite sex, terrorist get-ups, or ethnic-, religious- or race-based costumes.
  • Caution employees of hospitals or other health care organizations that images of ghosts, graves, skeletons and blood don’t go over well in health care settings.
  • Request that workers avoid donning political costumes that could be offensive.
  • Make sure desk and other office decorations don’t violate fire or safety codes. If some find them offensive, kindly ask they be removed from the office or confined to a small part of the office.
  • Consider whether costumes might seem unprofessional on employees who interact with customers.
  • In some industries, such as manufacturing and warehousing, costumes can jeopardize safety.
  • If Halloween offends some workers, offer to let them work from home or take the day off.

Communicating the above Do’s and Don’ts should allow for a festive, yet appropriate work place atmosphere. If an employee does show up in an inappropriate or offensive costume, send them home to change right away. You don’t want to condone such behavior and allow that person to continue to offend the rest of the day.

Trick or Treat and Happy Halloween!