Halloween Costume Ideas That Are Appropriate to Wear to Work
Workplace-Appropriate Halloween Costumes
You've come to the right place if you're looking for work-appropriate Halloween costume ideas. Over the years, I've gone as a housewife, an alien, a clown, a gypsy fortune teller, an Indian, a hobo, a cow, an oversized kid, a witch, an old lady, a Ty Beenie Baby, and more. Below, you'll find a list of things to consider, some great costume ideas, and links to other articles on Halloween topics.
Costumes You Probably Already Have or Are Easy to Get
Easy costumes you can create from things you probably already have:
Housewife/Househusband. This was one of the comfiest costumes I've ever worn to work. I wore my gown, housecoat, and big slippers. I carried around a new flyswatter, had my hair in those pink foam curlers, and wore white make-up to simulate cold cream. I made it on the front page of the local newspaper that year with that costume.
Alien. You can get away with wearing virtually anything bright or shiny with this one. I took an old t-shirt and drizzled bright fabric paint all over it, wore bright warm-up pants, outrageously colorful toe socks, flip flops, and a bright colored wig with antennae. A caulking gun covered in aluminum foil was my ray-gun.
Gypsy or Fortune-Teller. A flowing broomstick skirt, a bright non-matching shirt, a dozen bangle bracelets, and a scarf or two makes you a gypsy fortune teller. I bought a clear round light fixture at Home Depot to serve as a crystal ball. I found a light that changed colors that just happened to fit underneath it and added a handful of pillow stuffing and created a glowing smoky crystal ball.
Chef/Cook. If you've got an apron, a mixing bowl, and a wooden spoon, you can become a chef.
Hobo. Old clothes are perfect for converting to a hobo costume. You can find jackets at garage sales or thrift stores. Sew or glue some patches on—a few whip stitches is all it takes. Get some gloves that you can cut the fingers off of. Blacken your face to create the stubble-look. A stick with a bandana on the end works well for a prop.
Clown. Colorful clothing, a few balloons, and red cheeks and nose is all you need to become a clown. Half a yard of colorful gathered trim works well for a clown collar.
Scarecrow. Overalls work great for this, but if you don't have overalls, suspenders will do. A checkered or plaid shirt, straw hat, jeans with patches, and some raffia are all you need. Use a black eyeliner pencil to create some stitching on your face.
Hillbilly. An inexpensive pair of Bubba teeth and some torn jeans and shirt is all it takes. Maybe a straw hat and a piece of hay for your mouth.
Cowboy/Cowgirl. Jeans, hat, boots, and a bandana: Add a number pinned to your shirt and you become a rodeo cowboy.
Marathon Runner/Cyclist. Pair jogging shorts with tennis shoes and a paper number pinned to your tank top.
- Hippie. Brightly colored or tie-dyed shirt, bellbottom jeans, round sunglasses, bandana, and flowers or a headband for your hair. Don't forget the peace signs.
- Doctor, Nurse, or Vet. You can usually find inexpensive scrubs at Goodwill. Add a few accessories such as a stethoscope, clipboard, etc. Throw in a stuffed cat or dog and you become a vet.
Themed Halloween Costume Ideas for Groups
These will have to be tailored to fit the size of your office staff.
- Disney Characters. I've seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland, etc.
- Cartoon Characters. Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Machine gang, Spongebob, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, etc.
- TV & Movie Characters. Spongebob, Harry Potter, the Wizard of Oz, Ghostbusters, etc.
- Kids Games. Candyland, Monopoly, Dominoes (see photo).
- Cowboys (or Pilgrims) and Indians. You can create all types of scenes with cactus, saloons, and cutouts of covered wagons. For the Pilgrims/Indians, you can set a Thanksgiving table.
- Circus. You'll need animals, sideshow attractions, lion tamers, clowns, cotton candy and peanut vendors, trapeze artists, etc.
- Cirque du Soleil. Almost anything bizarre and theatrical would work here. This is a great theme for using your imagination.
- Dr. Seuss. You can recreate all kinds of his book's characters including the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, the Grinch, the Lorax, Whos, etc.
How to Choose a Work-Appropriate Costume
Some things to consider when choosing a costume to wear to work are:
- Comfort? If you're going to be wearing this costume for 8+ hours, you definitely want it to be comfortable. Comfort encompasses a lot of things. Will the costume be too hot to wear all day? Will it be too cool? Fairy princesses don't usually wear sweaters. Can you sit at your desk with the costume on? Those lovely feathered angel wings and halo may look cute at 7 a.m., but can you sit at your desk all day in them? Can you safely drive to and from work in your costume?
Makeup or Mask? Experiment with the makeup beforehand if you're planning to wear it. See how many hours you can last without going crazy. You need to know how your face is going to feel. Some of the heavier makeups can get irritating by the end of the day. If you wear a mask, make sure it doesn't limit your ability to see, breathe, or drive. It would be best if you didn't put it on until you got to work. While wearing a mask, make sure you can still perform your job duties. Condensation from your breathing can also build up under masks if you wear them too long. There are some great Halloween make-up tutorials that have videos from some of the best in the biz to show you how to create some fantastic looks. See the links below.
Suitable for the Workplace? You would think I wouldn't have to say this, but I do. There are lots of sexy costumes out there, and most are not appropriate for work. Use some common sense about what is appropriate. Think about the types of people your office interacts with and if they would be offended by your costume. If you have a lot of interaction with the public, this is critical. Please remember that you are still representing your company. Make sure you look respectable.
Themes? Sometimes themes can create a fun atmosphere at work. Think about the layout of your office. Does it lend itself to certain themes? For instance, we once utilized a row of cubicles to create Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter movies. Each cubicle represented one of the shops and we all dressed up as shop owners. We turned off the lights, leaving only dim lamps and played the theme music from the movie. An IT department downstairs had some meandering hallways that were easily converted to small haunted houses that we were able to tour on breaks or lunchtime. Sometimes, your theme can be determined by the number of people in your department. If you have three people, you can become the three little pigs, three blind mice, the three musketeers. You get the idea.
My Experiences with Halloween at Work
I've been fortunate to work for employers who enjoy the fun of Halloween and also enjoy giving back to the community.
One employer hosted a trick-or-treating event for handicapped and under-privileged children. These children often missed out on the traditional Halloween activities because of their handicaps. On Halloween, the children were bused to our workplace and the entire office dressed up and passed out candy to them. Many of them couldn't walk and were wheeled through in wheelchairs and wagons. You could tell from the looks on their faces that they loved our costumes and the fun atmosphere.
Another employer participates sponsors a local elementary school campus and holds money-raising events all year to fund projects for this particular school. At Halloween, the children are bused to our location to trick-or-treat while we are fully decked-out in themed costumes.
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