Truth be told, Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays. It always has been and always will be. I never liked it, even as a kid. Sure, all the candy was fun, but I just never got into the whole dress-up thing. As an adult, I like it even less. Not to be a Halloween scrooge, but I can’t even get into the holiday for my kids.

A lot of people, however, are into Halloween, and some are really into Halloween. It’s the holiday on which we spend more than any holiday other than Christmas.

And, a lot of your workplaces will be having Halloween celebrations. Some will request that you dress up for the occasion. If you happen to work in one of the workplaces, you have my sympathies. You also have my top 6 tips to avoid turning your innocent costume party into an HR horror show.

1. Be appropriate. Racist costumes have no role anywhere, especially in the workplace.

2. Be appropriate. If the name of your costume starts with “Slutty” or “Naughty” or some other similar adjective, pick another costume. Costumes like “Harvey Weinstein” or “Matt Lauer” or anything else overtly sexual are also really bad ideas.

3. Be appropriate. Politics are always a hot topic. But unless you want to offend half of your co-workers, leave your Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi costumes at home.

4. Can you work in your costume? It may be really cute or clever to dress up as an iPhone, but if it hinders your ability to do even the simplest of tasks (like sitting at your desk), then it’s probably not the right costume for work. Make-up and masks, while impressive and scary, are probably best left at home.

5. Avoid dangerous costumes. No, I’m not talking about Leatherface with a real chainsaw (although that’s also a bad idea). I’m talking about long wigs, feather boas, or other materials that could get caught in dangerous equipment, for example.

6. Are you thinking about dressing up like a co-worker or your boss? Does that individual have a good sense of humor? Are they going to take it the right way? You better be 100 percent sure before you don that mimicry.

Or, maybe leave Halloween costumes at home altogether. There are so many other holiday-appropriate team-building exercises (pumpkin carving, anyone?) without all of the risk.

This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.


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