Gone are the days when we’d spend the first half of the semester carefully planning out theme parties, brand new cocktail concoctions and a different, inventive outfit for each and every night of Halloweekend – or Halloweekends, if Halloween happened to fall in the middle of the week. Back then, all we had to worry about day-of was making sure our costumes were worthy of first place and our drinks were never empty. Unlike celebrating Halloween after college, kids didn’t come running up to our dorm doors begging for candy, our 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 MUA-worthy face paint and a Rubbermaid tub full of jungle juice won’t really cut it, but Halloween doesn’t need to be dull just because you’re an adult. Here are six ways you can keep the spirit of the holiday alive in the real world.
1. Dress up for work
Depending on where you work, you may have the option to dress up on Halloween, but your costume choice if you’re a bartender is going to vary from that of 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 holiday office attire is key.
Kathleen Rotondo, a former developer at IBM, also begs professional employees to be smart about their costume choices. “There are lines that can’t be crossed,” she says. “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’s a time and place for them, and a professional setting is not one of them.
“Puns based on the workplace go a long way,” Kathleen suggests. “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 it if you celebrate Halloween – it’s a fun break from the monotony of office life. If your employer doesn’t permit full-blown costumes, you could still put together an outfit inspired by your favorite character – in line with Disneybounding – or go the extra mile with your makeup for the day, pulling off an orange-accented smokey eye or a spiderwebbed liner!
There’s no reason you can’t still get creative with your costumes after college, as long as you’re using your best judgement!
2. Decorate your space
Whether it’s your home or your office, there is unfortunately 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 when your neighbors mistake your yard for a crime scene.
Danielle Buchanan, a graduate of Eckerd College, loves to visit Target, TJ Maxx and Homegoods for decorations that fit the bill. “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 chalkboards!
Meanwhile Haleigh Kopinski, a 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!”
“I also keep a bowl of candy on my desk for anyone who visits,” Kathleen shares. As far as decorations go, she found that fairy lights and spooky pictures worked the best for her office, rather than a tiny pumpkin or anything else. “Pumpkins are a great idea [in theory], 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. You don’t want to do anything that could make you look bad or create 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 tensions between individuals within the office. There’s a fine line between appreciation and appropriation, and crossing it could create hostility and awkwardness.
3. Put together a spread of 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. But there are lots of great recipes for drinks and snacks alike that’ll get you into the Halloween spirit, 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.
Whether you’re digging through TikTok recipe recs or throwing all of your fall ingredients into a pot and crossing your fingers for the best, putting together your own ~charspookerie~ board full of witch hats made of Hershey’s kisses and fudge stripes and accompanied by cocktails called “The Liquid Spiderweb” is sure to get the Halloween spirit flowing, and all of your guests ready for the party.
4. Get The Group Chat Back Together for a party
Speaking of the party, plan one (considerately)! One of the best things about Halloween in college was Halloweekend(s), which were the several days to a week in a row where every other house at least was throwing a theme party, and 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 – especially if you can get all your friends back together in one room for it – 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 to, or forget to, clean it up that night – talk about a renter’s nightmare.
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 or having a DD on call, 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. The more people you have to ride with, the less congested the roads will be and the more money you’ll keep in your pocket.
5. Get something sweet ready for the trick-or-treaters
As much as I’ve grown to hate hearing my doorbell ring at any time of the year, there’s something special about it on Halloween. If you aren’t going out for the evening, consider recreating the magic from your trick-or-treating years for the new generation!
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 – 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. If you really don’t want to interact with anyone, consider purchasing or making a sign that says “Trick or Treat” on one side and “Out of Candy” on the other – if you have no candy, leave it out all night long on that side. If you want to put out a bowl, and then make sure they stop coming once the treats are gone, you can step outside later in the evening to flip it.
Halloween is a really exciting time for kids and if you have the means to participate, you could make any number of people’s nights. “Remember how magical trick or treating could be?” Kathleen reminisces. “Make it that way for another kid! 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 is a simple way to give everyone a little joy.
6. Marathon Your Old 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 spooky 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 you 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.