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Remember Not Everyone Celebrates Halloween

By Charles Hopkins Published 10/23/2007 | Social Issues
Ah, Halloween, what a fun time of year at the workplace. Desks become transformed into dark, mysterious mini-versions of haunted houses and grave yards. Cobwebs hang from windows and are strung across the filing cabinets which can happen any time of the year, but during Halloween, the boss doesn't holler at you to clean them up. It's great isn't it? And who can't wait for costume day at the office? Who can't help but wonder what ensemble Bob down in Accounting is going to dream up this year? Wasn't it last year that he came as Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith show and everyone swore that he was really Mary from Composing? Great times, great times.

But not all times are great during the Halloween season, especially for those that don't celebrate Halloween. If you live in a secular region of the nation, this might not be an issue, but areas with a devout and diverse religious following are home to a great deal of people who don't observe the holiday. This number is growing as more and more religious denounce the holiday. Keeping this in mind, how can you celebrate Halloween at the office without offending?

While you don't have to not observe a holiday at the office because one, a few, or several of your coworkers will not take part, you do have to be respectful of their feelings and belief systems. Obviously antagonizing your non-celebratory coworkers to take part in costume day or attend the company party is out of the question, but there are other subtle ways that you might be offending and not even realize it. Here are just a few guidelines:

While decorating common areas and your personal space is completely acceptable, you should take care to keep decorations out of your coworker's area or workspace. Don't whine around about the unity of the decorations. They are entitled to a work space that makes them comfortable and to a safe haven from all of the decorations.

Instead of alienating your coworker's from company Halloween parties, why not make gatherings friendly and acceptable to all employees by making them generic? Schools have been doing this for years. So instead of having a Halloween party, why not have a harvest or fall company gathering? You can also decorate along these lines which will be more comfortable for everyone.

Don't be dead set on having it your way or no way. Finding common ground is a great way to show your coworkers that you care about their feeling and beliefs. Strive to not overstep or offend. Stop and think before you act and don't assume that everyone feels the same way that you do.

Remember, holidays are a time for sharing and enjoying the season with everyone you work with. That just can't happen if you leave some of your coworkers out of the equation. While you might not get the Halloween celebration that you envisioned, you will gain the respect and friendship of your work team.