6 Ways to Make the Most of Halloween After College

Gone are the days where we spent the first half of the semester carefully planning out a different, inventive costume for each and every night of Halloweekend, or multiple Halloweekends, if Halloween fell in the middle of the week. In college, all we had to worry about was making sure our outfits were cute, our drinks were full and our makeup was on point. Kids didn’t come running up to our dorm doors begging for candy, guests didn’t have to be adequately entertained and you didn’t have to face your boss in your costume.

Don’t worry, though. You may be at a loss now that animal ears and a Rubbermaid tub full of jungle juice won’t really cut it, but we’ve got your back.   

1. Dressing up at work 

Depending on where you work, you may get to dress up on Halloween, but your costume choice if you’re a bartender is going to vary from that if you’re a software engineer; it’s important to dress for the workspace you’re in! Even though the occasion calls for disguises, remembering where you are when you select your attire is key.

Kathleen Rotondo, a developer at IBM, says, “Please be smart about this; there are lines that can’t be crossed. This isn't just dressing up to go out with friends. It’s your job and should be treated as such. When it comes to gore, less is usually more, but there’s no reason not go all out on a fictional character or something that’s not so scary.” This also applies to traditionally sexy costumes—there is a time and place for them, and a professional setting is not it!

“Puns based on the work place go a long way,” Kathleen says. “A guy from work last year dressed up in a white shirt that said ‘404 Error: Costume Not Found,’ and given that we're programmers, everyone lost their minds over it.”

If your employer will let you dress up for the occasion, you should definitely take advantage of the occasion! Get creative with your costumes, but be smart about your choices.

2. Decorating your space

Whether it’s your home or your office, there is such a thing as too much or too soon. You don’t want HR called on you for having a plastic weapon that looks a little too real, or the police called for what people mistake for a murder scene.

Danielle Buchanan, a graduate of Eckerd College, loves to visit Target, TJ Maxx and Homegoods to shop for her holiday decorations. “They’re all so fun, and pretty inexpensive!” she says. Target’s dollar spot always has great finds for holiday supplies, like battery-powered LED lights and bat-shaped chalk boards!

Haleigh Kopinski, a graduate of Point Park and Social Media Community Manager for Aerie, likes to make her own decorations! “I take one weekend to just completely ‘fall out’ and do DIYs. Last year I made a welcome sign out of fake leaves, potpourri light jars, and candles!”

Kathleen found that fairy lights and spooky pictures worked the best for her office! “Classic pumpkins are a great idea, but if they're real be careful about making sure you get rid of them before they rot; nobody wants to visit your office if it smells like that,” she says. “I also keep a bowl of candy on my desk for anyone who visits!” You don’t want to do anything that could make you look bad or create drama within the office!

Overly grotesque décor, such as very bloody or lifelike, recreations or references to real-life crimes, or campy versions of décor dedicated to cultural holidays, like the Day of the Dead, could all instigate tension between individuals within the office. There’s a fine line between appreciation and appropriation, and crossing it could create hostility and awkwardness.

3. Seasonally appropriate snacks and drinks

In the land and time of pumpkin spice, a rarity available to us mostly during the fall, it can be difficult to open your mind to other flavors. There are lots of great recipes, for drinks and snacks a like, to get you ready for Halloween, pumpkin not required.

Haleigh likes to create her own recipes around this time of year. “Pinterest is a life-saver, but I enjoy pumpkin everything and apple cider sangria a lot!” she says.

Witch hats made of Hershey’s kisses and fudge stripes and cocktails called “Dark and Spooky” are sure to get the Halloween spirit flowing and all of your guests ready for the party.

4. Throwing a party

One of the best things about Halloween in college was Halloweekend(s), the several days, or even a whole week, in a row where costumes ranged from full-body morph suits to outfits made out of rolls of caution tape. Everybody was in the same boat, ready to celebrate all day, every day. The prospect of a party to bring you back to your heyday may be just what you need to get out of the post-grad funk, but your neighbors in your post-grad quarters, be it the house next door or the apartments all around, probably don’t feel the same way.

If you’re going to throw a party, you’ve got to be conscious of your surroundings. Surely you’ll have some neighbors that want to celebrate with you, but you’ll also have young children that need to go to bed when they get back from trick-or-treating and older neighbors that don’t want to hear your screams all night.

Also keep in mind the potential clean-up. Many decorations, like fake blood or broken glow sticks, could stain your carpets, curtains, walls and upholstery if you don’t know how or forget to clean it up that night.

It may be in your best interest to take the party to somebody else’s house or out on the town, but make sure you have rides planned out. Kathleen suggests taking an Uber if it’s available in your area, especially when alcohol is involved. “It will be dark and children are little,” she says. “The last thing you want to be is responsible for hitting somebody.” Driving while intoxicated to any degree is no joke, and the more people you have to Uber with, the less congested the roads will be and the more money you’ll keep in your pocket.  

5. Preparing for trick-or-treaters

If you don’t throw or go to a party, hopefully you’ll be participating in the most popular part of the holiday.

It’s been a long standing tradition that if you’re accepting trick-or-treaters you leave your porch light on, and if you’re not offering treats you keep it dark. A lot of overzealous children don’t follow the rules, though, and even if your porch light is off, they’ll still ring your bell or knock on your door in the hopes of a sugar rush. You can purchase or make a sign that says “Trick or Treat” on one side and “Out of Candy” on the other if you don’t want to participate, or want to make sure they stop coming once the treats are gone, but Halloween is a really exciting time for kids and if you have the means to participate, you could make any number of kids’ nights.

“Remember how magical trick or treating could be? Make it that way for another kid,” Kathleen says. “The excitement on their faces and the gratitude they offer will make you so glad you did!” Even if all you want to do is sit inside with a drink and a scary movie the night of, keeping a bowl of candy nearby for those who come to visit will make everyone happy.

6. Marathoning holiday favorites

Whether it’s to kick off the season (and it’s never too early to do so) or as a quiet night in instead of celebrating, a Halloween movie marathon is a must. There’s nothing like a Disney Channel Original Movie or a horror film to get you pumped for Halloween.

“I'm still a sucker for Halloweentown,” Summer Arlexis, a graduate of Boston University and a fashion and beauty staff writer for Bustle.com, says. “I mean, what 90s kid wouldn't consider that a classic? DCOMs are always giving me life!” And who could forget the scariest DCOM ever created, Don’t Look Under the Bed? Even in our twenties, these kiddy Halloween classics still cause us to drop everything on the nights they air!

Haleigh says, “One tradition that has stuck from college is that every year, my two old roommates and I get together to have a wine night, and watch the most awful scary movies, like Sorority Row and the Scream series.” You can even take old traditions like this and use the time to create new ones, like decorating your own fall or Halloween-themed wine glasses to use.

Whether it’s a throwback, classic, or family-friendly film, it’ll do the job to get your ready for anything the Halloween season has to throw at you, and as long as you act safely and smartly now that you’re out in the real world, with real consequences, this Halloween will be just as amazing as all the ones before it were.

About The Author

A 20-something or other with an appreciation for the following: emergency medicine, lipstick, the suburban mother wine culture, commas, musical theatre and Taylor Swift. Chances are you'll find her at Chick-fil-a, screeching along to the radio with the windows down, or buried in blankets crying over overly-dramatic television.