Halloween is something to work at…at work


Continuing our week long Halloween posts, it’s time for us to hop into the wayback machine for a little trip.  All buckled?

Last post, we talked about the origins of my Halloween giveaways, which started when I got a home of my own.  I became a homeowner for the first time about a year and a half after starting with my last company.

Starting out as a cubicle dweller, there wasn’t a lot of spare room on the “desk” top, but I usually managed to keep a small candy jar for co-workers to munch from.  I rotated the candy, ranging from mints to chocolates to hard candies to gum.  I rarely ate any myself, picking up popular brands, but ones I didn’t care for.

In a few years, I got to the point in my career that I was sharing an office with a co-manager and then shortly after that we each got our own offices.  Now, with a full desk and credenza to work with, I expanded my candy selections.  In a three-tier jar on my desk I would have mints, chocolates and some other variety of crunchy (animal crackers, peanuts, Snack-ens, etc.).  Come Halloween, the candy jars would shift to holiday appropriate candy.

One year, with extra decorations at home, I decided to spruce up the office a bit by decorating in true Halloween style.  This seemed to be an instant magnet for people.  As regular readers know, when that happens, I always feel the need to escalate.

The following year, I decked out the office completely, including Halloween lighting and working in the “dark” (I had blinds on the office windows which were normally used to reduce the sun glare and I also turned off the flourescent overhead lights).  As you could imagine, this was an even bigger hit.

Now here is where the story gets a little blurry.  Plenty of people from my last company swear it was me who got the whole “Halloween at work” thing going, but I believe it was a group of people.  Regardless of the correct memory, one Halloween, the entire building (four floors) decided to decorate for Halloween.

I do know I was the one who suggested bringing the kids into the office (in costume) to trick or treat.  Where would you find any place safer, not to mention the haul the kiddies would get?  The idea caught fire and our first of many Halloweens with kids began.

At 4 pm on whichever day was closest to Halloween (Friday for a weekend Halloween), the main floor lights would go off and the kids would come in.  Emergency lights on all floors kept enough light to comfortably navigate but allowed ample opportunity for any lit displays to shine (pun intended).

It seemed I was not the only person who liked to play “topper”.  Over the next several years, sections of the floors would have creative “contests” to see who could decorate the most imaginative themes.  The effect was stupendous and everyone had a ball.

Of course, in addition to adding more and more stuff to my office decorations (those ceiling tiles offered excellent material to stick paper clips into and hang all sorts of stuff…though I did get a lot of that material in my hair), I introduced my special age and gender specific goody bags.

The goody bags had the natural effect of making my office a “must visit” destination for the kiddies (and the decorations drew plenty of non-parents), but it did create a logistical nightmare (appropriate, I suppose, considering the holiday).

In order for me to get home in time for the trick or treaters at my own house, I needed to leave at least by 5 pm, or I would be stuck in rush hour traffic and not get set up in time.  When I got home, I needed to plug in all my lights, turn on any battery operated decorations and get the fog machine warmed up.  But I also didn’t want to short change any of the kids from my co-workers.

As the years went on and the popularity of the event increased (we would now get visited by parents and kids from other buildings on the company’s “campus”), the logistics thing became ever more difficult.  Finally, I devised a means of using colored stickers (those little round price tag variety) to denote what bag should go to whom.  Blue for older boy, Green for young, Gold for older girl, Silver for young.  Doing this let me have a “designated bagger” for those kids I missed during my dash home.

This went on for many years, until my final job shift at the company moved me to another building.  I discovered this building did nothing like what we did (in fact, no other building did what we did) and got together with some “fun” people on the floor and proposed we do the same thing.  What do you know, they must have only been waiting for a spark, for the very first year I was there they put on a spectacular showing.  We did it every year I was there until I left the company.

I’m not sure if the buildings still do the Halloween decorating.  Many of the original “instigators” are no longer with the company (no, not because of that).  I’ve got a lunch with some ex-mates this week.  Seems like a good time to ask about it.

I guess I could understand the event running dry.  It wasn’t easy setting all that up for basically one hour of one day (though most of us enjoyed it for a full week).  Setting up Halloween at work is something you have to work at!

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