Halloween button from IStock

Halloween reminds us of a cardinal rule in U.S. business – to avoid mixing work and pleasure. This is why during the holiday season, there is a need for a balance between productivity and company morale. Consider these celebratory tips to enjoy a culturally appropriate holiday with colleagues and customers.

  1. Respect Non-Participation: If coworkers avoid eye contact, decline to wear a costume, or shut doors, honor their decision and avoid interrupting unless it’s work-related. If you must knock, keep it short and sweet because colleagues may dislike Halloween. Read the mood.
  1. Hibernate Politely: If you aren’t participating and don’t wish to be disturbed because you’re rolled up to your ears in tape, place a “Please don’t Disturb” sign in your work space. If you’re participating after 5:00 pm, let your colleagues know
  1. Follow Dress Code: Stay in line with the organization’s dress code and Halloween guidelines. The dress code doesn’t disappear when the holidays arrive. Keep it classy. Avoid cultural appropriation, skimpy, sensual, gruesome, and/or offensive costumes that damage personal brand as well as company image.
  1. Discrete Party Locations: If you wish to be the haunt in Halloween, try hosting a gathering in a secluded spot away from the work environment such as the break room, cafeteria, or outdoor courtyard.
  1. DecorationsDecorate work spaces in good taste. Be creative with pumpkins, squash, corn and leaves. Hang children’s artwork. Avoid creating obstacles or jeopardizing safety caused by poor decor placement.
  1. Treat yo Tricksters: Collaborate with colleagues to create a participant celebration list. Survey the crowd about tree nut, dairy, gluten or other allergies before purchasing treats. Stock up on a variety of non-allergenic desk candies or organize a potluck.

Events for Everyone

  1. After Hours Movie: Compile a list of film classics for a seasonal screening that will have everyone laughing. Set up a projector in the breakroom to attract a fun crowd. Beforehand ask coworkers to bring their own chair beforehand so everyone is comfortable.
  2. Game Night: What’s a party without a little friendly competition? Get into the groove by posting weekly or daily contests or games, such as a pumpkin painting, mummy-wraps, guessing games, or a trick-or-treat giveaway. Nothing brings Western individuals together more than healthy competition – determine the number of chocolates or eyeballs in a jar or how fast a colleague can be wrapped in ribbon.
  3. Potluck Party: Designate an area for colleagues to place fun new holiday treats, tried and true classics, or a fall themed meal as an exciting leap from water-cooler talk. Give employees the opportunity to try new recipes for others to enjoy. Depending on organisational culture, this may spark new cultural interests, bond work relationships, and even generate new product ideas.

Take advantage of the Halloween holiday to boost morale, connect workers, and increase productivity. Sparks of inspiration come from the most unusual places; start a new tradition this year and enjoy the Halloween holiday.  


Sharon Schweitzer and Vienna Raglin co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Vienna Raglin is the Marketing and Sales Manager at Access to Culture. With a professional background in Sales and Hospitality, she earned a BBA in Marketing and Sales from Texas State