How to celebrate Halloween without freaking out visitors

How to celebrate Halloween without freaking out visitors

If you are lucky enough to have a fun work environment where dressing up for Halloween is encouraged – and you have clients, customers and visitors all day long – there are three things you should consider as the holiday approaches.

What would you think if you walked into a doctor’s office to see someone walking around with blood all over their clothes? You might not put Halloween – zombie – costume all together in that moment. It might really scare you!

Not every costume idea is appropriate in a business office or professional medical practice setting. That’s why as you make your workday Halloween plans, you should remember that for visitors, your office celebration starts at the front door or main entrance. Clearly setting a professional scene with colorful and non-offensive holiday décor warns all visitors that your office family is all-in for Halloween.

  1. Client friendly Halloween decor

    Some fun ways to decorate the office:

    • Consider paper wrapping your main office door and decorating it – clearly communicating to every visitor that you are embracing the holiday. Choose glossy or embossed orange wrapping paper, wide butcher paper on which you can draw holiday greetings, or large format prints of images of the season like pumpkins. Measure your door and cut the paper and tape in place. Stay away from scary or childish prints that would be appropriate for a children’s party. Focus instead on setting a tone of fun, while still operating professionally.
    • Grab clear vases (tall cylinders are great), and fill them with tiny pumpkins and squash and place them on lobby tables and work station counters. This type of display is visually sophisticated. Skip spider webs or plastic spiders.
    • Got potted plants? Cover tall plants with white sheets or drop cloths to create ghosts. Use black paper cut-outs for eyes and mouths, which can be taped on.
    • Avoid anything that could be unsafe for visitors, including darkened areas, strobe lights, webbing that could be walked into, or any tripping hazards, like large pumpkins on the floor.
    • Don’t forget to add candy bowls with individually wrapped treats – the more colorful the better!
  2. Costume theme equals teamwork

    The eternal workplace Halloween challenge is that feeling of herding cats — in mismatching costumes. Isn’t there always one colleague who insists on dressing like a low-rent Elvis? Or an eternal Marilyn Monroe in the undulating white dress? Not that we don’t love Elvis and Marilyn, but what if the next person your client sees in your workplace is a wart-covered witch, then Bob from Accounting as a filthy, blood splattered zombie? For visitors to your office it does leave an impression — but not a positive, or professional one. What if this year, you considered a more uniform approach, suggesting that your colleagues choose a costume theme?

    When an office chooses themed costumes, individuals can still be creative, yet your office will present a unified force for fun. How about Mad Men and Mad Women rocking the vintage look at your dental practice? Wouldn’t you smile if you opened the door to your chiropractor’s office and saw staffers dressed as their favorite doctors, nurses or scientists? Hello, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy from Star Trek! Hello, Florence Nightingale!

    Star Trek uniforms are as close as your laptop. As for the iconic Crimean War nurse, a long blue skirt, a white apron and a simple bun hairdo covered with white lace and a little lantern would do the trick. Even a little flat cardboard image of a lantern would work.

  3. Or how about Doctor Einstein? He was a genius known for wearing old dark baggy suits, for his messy hair, and for discovering the Theory of Relativity. Grab a slide rule, wrinkle papers with some scribbled formulas and stuff them in your coat pockets. Or you can be a casual Albert Einstein and wear a comfy knitted sweater with buttons down the front – one of his favorites. Costume themes for a professional office work well when a group commits to something that resonates with visitors without scaring or repelling them.Great themes for fun costumes include the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s or 1970s with any vintage equipment you might have in a dusty storage room to set the scene. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which was released in 1961, can inspire fun costumes based on a black dress and costume jewelry. Classic television shows can be mined for themes – think I Love Lucy or Mr. Rogers. Or go old school and pick just about any vintage Hitchcock film. What about “The Birds” for a veterinary office? All you need is a vintage skirt suit plus faux crows. Add messy beehive hairdo and another crow peeking out of an old pocketbook – and you’re rockin’ it.
  4. Document the day

    Okay, you’ve decorated and dressed up in a way that will be fun and creative and not offend clients, customers, and/or patients. But you know — it never happened if there aren’t photos! A simple frame on the wall or clean backdrop with a selfie-stick at the ready will help memorialize who wore what best. Be sure to do an early all group photograph while everyone’s costumes are pristine. If you can offer visitors, guests or clients a simple way to join in the fun, do. A pink cardigan sweater or grey fedora for a Mad Men theme; a nurse’s cap, toy thermometer or stethoscope, or a red cape for your super hero clients, will let everyone feel like part of the fun. A well organized Halloween at work that includes grown-up lobby decor; themed costumes and an opportunity for fun photos can be a wonderful team building event.