Everyone knows Halloween is up there with Thanksgiving on the list of Best American Holidays. Halloween is fun for all ages, unlike, say, Christmas, which is great till you’re 12, when all the childhood wonder evaporates and suddenly you’re spending your December Googling “What’s cool that people like,” bleeding your money on presents, and somehow only getting socks in return.
It’s no surprise that a holiday that’s all about the treats would be so popular in corporate America, where we go through sheet cakes at a pace matched only by our appetite for sheets of actual paper.
Which is why, if you work in the business world, eventually you will find yourself celebrating Halloween at work.
2017 marks my 12th year of celebrating Office Halloween in various corporate locales. I’ve become very familiar with its rhythms. Typically, the fun begins with an an email from HR stating that there will be a Halloween party on Tuesday at 2 P.M., and everyone is encouraged to dress up. Sometime between Monday and Tuesday, modest decorations will start popping up near the appointed gathering space. A reminder email will be sent. And at about 2:01 P.M. on the big day, everyone will start filing into the break room.
Only a small subset of the office will actually dress up for Office Halloween, but there are a handful of costumes you are guaranteed to see every year. Below, I’ll walk you through the most common Office Halloween costumes so that, whether it’s your first Office Halloween or fifteenth, you know exactly what to be prepared for.
Put Some Ears on It is, by my observation, the #1 Most Popular Women’s Office Halloween strategy of all time. You’ve either been this person, or you know this person: the one who wears her normal work outfit but adds some cat ears and maybe even a tail.
This is an extremely popular option because it’s easy, it’s inexpensive, and, most importantly, it lets you first check and make sure everyone else dressed up before you don your headband. As a bonus, you’ll be able to bail out fast when the party is over, packing those ears into your purse until next year.
Putting Some Ears on It is better than doing nothing, because at least it contributes to the festive atmosphere. But it’s about as low-effort as you can be.
Several people will don NFL fan gear for the Halloween party. This is because the men and women of corporate America love sports almost as much as we love flowers made out of frosting. Unfortunately, this is less a “costume” than a way of saying “Well, it’s Fall, so I used Halloween as a reason to wear my Eli Manning jersey, which is the single most expensive item of clothing I own.”
You can do this if you want, but let’s be clear that you are not celebrating Halloween so much as starting your Sunday tailgate five days early. But it’s better than the next idea on our list.
EVERY year there is a guy or gal (but let’s keep it real, it’s a guy) who buys that cheap wig or mask of the president/presidential candidate. Often times this is not a political statement in and of itself, it’s just that the person thought it would be funny and wacky. The problem is that sadly, the presence of this costume generates discussion of current events and turns the whole Office Halloween Party into an awkward referendum on the American political system. Nothing goes worse with a Butterfinger tummy ache.
If you’re this person, I’m begging you to just resist the urge this year and bring everyone apple cider donuts instead. It’s a much better use of your $20.
The visual pun costume, bafflingly enough, is usually well received at Office Halloween, because somehow there are still people who have yet to see a portrayal of Cereal Killer or Waist of Time (belt full of watches). But don’t be fooled, honey—they’ve been done to death. Because these costumes are low budget and DIY, you’re almost certain to see them, but they earn zero points for creativity.
I don’t know why, but there is always someone in a gorilla mask. Always. I assume these things are tax deductible or something, because only that could explain their popularity. The one good thing I can say about gorilla masks is that wearing one will successfully prevent you from eating Butterfingers. However, the reason you aren’t hearing all about the Kardashians doing the Gorilla Mask Diet is that it only works for 30 seconds, at which point you become incredibly warm and have to take it off.
To all my 9-to-5ers, no matter how you choose to celebrate: I bid you a crispety, crunchety, peanut buttery Office Halloween. And be sure to tweet @thepromptmag and let us know your Office Halloween costume go-to!