Choice Stories

September 8, 2020

Celebrating Halloween with Your Employees in the Age of COVID-19

It’s hard to know for sure what might be “the norm” by the time Halloween rolls around this year. Some workplaces in California may be fully staffed and working on-site, while others may still be working remotely.
Still, Halloween can be used as an opportunity to strengthen your culture, build morale, and nurture collaboration – for onsite and offsite workers.

Here are onsite and remote options to help you celebrate Halloween with employees in 2020.


Be sure to pick the one that best fits your company, culture, and work situation.

Department or Office/Cubicle Decorating: If your employees have returned to work, even if they are alternating days in the office, you can encourage them to get in the spirit of the season by decorating their workspace. Halloween is on a Saturday this year, so if you have a competition among employees or departments, you will want to have your judging on Thursday or Friday, so employees know before they take off for the weekend whether they won. You can give individual awards (like a gift card) or hand out a ribbon and bragging rights until next year. It’s helpful to have pre-determined themes – like a graveyard or haunted house – or you can leave it to your leaders and employees to come up with a theme on their own.

Halloween Party: A party is not likely a viable option this year, since close interaction with others could increase the risk of exposing workers to the coronavirus. If you do attempt a socially distant party, it’s imperative employees wear a mask. A ready reserve of hand sanitizer is recommended, too.


Costume Contest: A costume contest is something you can do in-person and in a socially distant and responsible way via Zoom or other online meeting technology.

Establish rules for your competition and share them with all of your employees. Avoid costumes that would embarrass anyone or be too provocative. You want the contest to be fun and encourage creativity, without crossing the line concerning good taste.

While group competitions are fairly common in company-sponsored costume contests, this year you may to emphasize individual competitions instead. Doing so equalizes things for all competitors – whether they are onsite or remote.

As far as evaluation criteria, you might consider “most original/creative,” scariest, worst, and best costumes. One or more of your employees who seem shy may want to show off hidden talents when behind a mask or wearing a costume. Being in lock down for much of 2020 may spur unknown creativity among a few of your workers.

Pumpkin Carving Contest: This is also something that works in the office or if your employees are working remotely. For onsite workers, you can ask competitors to carve their pumpkins offsite and bring them to work ready for judging. If you’re not concerned about the mess, and you can arrange for employees to be socially distant, have them carve their pumpkins onsite and limit the window in which they have to do the carving. The added pressure could yield more interesting results.

For onsite competitions, be sure you supply all of the tools needed – and a de-seeding station. If everyone guts their pumpkins before taking them to the “carving station,” you can limit the mess. Providing aprons can be helpful, too.

A table with paint, glitter, and other decorative options gives everyone an equal chance to win. You can also avoid the mess altogether by limiting your contest to jack o’ lanterns decorated with a Sharpie.

If you have offsite workers, you can ask everyone to prepare their pumpkin and “unveil” them on a prearranged Zoom call/meeting. Then everyone can publicly – or secretly – cast their ballot by sharing it in an email . . . with results announced before the sign-off for the week.


We know, it’s only September, so you’re thinking Halloween is weeks away. Don’t wait to announce your plans. If you want your employees to be enthusiastic about a competition, give them time to prepare. Some organizations with a serious commitment to All Hallows' Eve start planning in August.

Your Beginner's Guide to Choosing a Small Business Employee Benefits Program

Do you need help choosing the right health benefits for your employees?
This guide can help!