By Rocco Brown-Morris
Halloween is hard to wrap your head around. You thought you'd outgrown it in high school, but nevertheless donned a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume in college. In grade school, your classmates used to swap candy bars, but now you and your friends take turns buying cocktails. As a child, nothing could possibly rival a night of free sugar, but now you're not even sure Halloween's an actual holiday.
You're confused. And you're especially confused about your upcoming office party. Your boss is planning on wearing a leotard, but you're worried you might be the one sticking out for the wrong reasons. Fret no more, because LiveCareer has all the advice you need to survive your work party.
Dress for the occasion. Halloween is like a get-out-of-jail-free card; put on a Hello Kitty outfit and no one will question you. Shoot, you can dress up like your boss, imitate all her mannerisms and be applauded rather than fired.
But there's a fine line between festive and inappropriate. Have some fun with your costume, but don't wear anything that will be the subject of your CEO's next meeting. Dressing up like Adam or Eve might work in a dance club, but your office party isn't a suitable place to bare your forbidden fruit. Stay away from anything scandalous, religious or political. Think more along the lines of Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia.
Even if you loathe the idea of dressing up, make an effort to do something. Pick out the loudest, most ridiculous jacket from your wardrobe, turn your pants inside out, put on a top hat and throw a fishing rod over your shoulder. What's the costume exactly? Who knows, but your coworkers will appreciate the effort.
Get in the spirit. Maybe you have a childhood fear of Scooby Doo costumes. Or perhaps you overdosed on fun-sized candy bars as a teenager. Either way, put your concerns behind you, get into the Halloween mood and make the best of the party.
You might be dressed like Where's Waldo, but don't hide behind your computer monitor while your coworkers mingle. Energy is contagious, so put a bowl of candy on your desk, socialize and try your best to enjoy the get-together.
Sure, the party might be childish and corny, but Halloween's your excuse to act like a kid strung out on candy corn. Just go with it.
Drink in moderation. Your boss is wearing a tutu, your wig makes your head itch and your CEO's trying to get everyone to do the Monster Mash. Your solution? B-line to the cooler full of beer.
Not so fast.
Most Halloween office parties are simply an extended, more festive lunch break. A typical get-together might include a potluck, costume competition and pumpkin-carving contest. While alcohol might be available as well, don't go overboard.
A single beer is okay. In fact, it might help you loosen up for the party. But don't make company headlines for throwing up in the punch bowl. Sloppy drunken behavior can permanently damage your office reputation. Worse yet, you might be sending out cover letters to new companies if your antics cross the line.
Meet people. Her cubicle is next to the printer, you walk past her 12 times a day, you nod “hello” nearly every time you pass by and you still don't know her name. The social awkwardness is cringe-worthy. Fortunately, your office party is the perfect place to introduce yourself.
This is also your chance to get to know your coworkers as people rather than, well, coworkers. You can put aside your work responsibilities for a bit, drop your guard, socialize and goof off. Hopefully this leads to lighthearted conversations that have more to do with your favorite horror flicks than personal work quotas.
If the higher-ups are in attendance, don't be afraid to approach them. You can make a positive impression on the executives by simply shaking their hands and chatting for a few minutes.
Remain professional. This doesn't mean wear a suit and tie and talk about spreadsheets. The whole point of having an office party is to break the wall that sometimes separates coworkers from comfortably interacting.
But keep in mind you represent the company. Before you start breakdancing on top of your desk, remember that you're still an employee.
Sip some punch, bob for apples and scare a coworker by hiding behind a plastic skeleton. But don't do anything that would compromise your status within the company. Your November should be full of leftover candy, not updates to your resume as you look for a new job.