October 26, 2017

Small Talk Conversation Starters: Halloween

Looking for a list of questions you can use to start conversations with your American colleagues about Halloween? The questions in this post can be used at the water cooler, in the break room or over lunch to make small talk about Halloween, which falls on October 31 every single year! 

General Questions - Halloween at Work:  
  1. Do we celebrate Halloween at work? 
  2. What are popular costumes this year? 
  3. What was your favorite Halloween costume? 
  4. What do you usually dress up as for Halloween? 
  5. What is your favorite thing about Halloween? 
  6. What is a Halloween party at work like? 
  7. Is it ok if I don't wear a costume to work? 
  8. Are we doing anything for Halloween? (We is used in reference to the team or the company, hopefully!) 
  9. Do you like Halloween? / What do you like about Halloween? / What's your favorite thing about Halloween? 
  10. What are some symbols or colors associated with Halloween? 
  11. Are there special treats or candy eaten only on Halloween? 
  12. What is candy corn? 
Halloween Outside of Work (non-family related questions): 
  1. Do you celebrate Halloween at home? 
  2. Are you doing anything interesting for Halloween? 
  3. How do you normally celebrate Halloween? 
  4. I heard that people say 'trick or treat.' Do people really play tricks? What kind of tricks? 
  5. Do you like scary movies? / Do you like ghost stories? 
If they do celebrate, go ahead with any of these questions: 
  1. You do celebrate Halloween at home! How do you celebrate it? 
  2. What is a costume party? Have you ever been to one? 
  3. What are some fun activities I can do to celebrate Halloween or fall? 
  4. I heard kids may come to my house/apartment to trick or treat. What does trick or treat mean? 
  5. Do I have to give out candy? How do I do that? 
  6. Do you decorate your house? How do people normally decorate their house for Halloween? 
  7. I was invited to a few Halloween parties on the same night. How can I decline an invitation? 
  8. Have you ever experienced anything weird on Halloween? 
  9. I have heard some people claim to see ghosts on Halloween, have you? 
  10. Do you carve a pumpkin? Tell me more!! 
  11. When do you usually carve your pumpkin? 
  12. Where can we get a good pumpkin? How do you pick one out? 
If they do not celebrate Halloween, possibly try this: 
  1. Oh, though you do not celebrate the holiday, I am new to the US and don't know much about this holiday, would you be able to help me learn more or know someone who can talk with me about it? 
Halloween and Children (you can freely talk about your own children, but do not ask others about their children unless they have started the conversation first, especially if you do not know the colleague well): 
  1. I have a kid going to school here. I heard they are supposed to dress up and have a costume party at school. What is this all about? We did not have this where I am from....
  2. Where do I get good costumes? 
  3. What are the popular kids costumes this year? 
  4. Where can my kids go trick or treating? Where are the best places to go trick or treating? 
  5. If I go trick or treating with my kids, do I have to dress up too? 
  6. Can we go trick or treating in any neighborhood we want? 
  7. What time do we go trick or treating? 
  8. What are some other activities we can do to celebrate the holiday besides (or in addition to) trick or treating? 
  9. I heard people go to haunted houses for Halloween. What's a haunted house? 
  10. What are some foods or treats that people eat this time of the year? 
  11. I heard some people dress up their dogs for Halloween. Is that true? 
Asking about their children:
  1. What will your kids dress up as for Halloween? 
  2. Do your kids like Halloween? 
  3. Do your kids like to go trick or treating? 
  4. Do your kids go trick or treating alone? 
  5. What have your children dressed up as for Halloween in the past? 
  6. What is your kid's favorite candy? 
  7. How much candy do your kids usually get when they go trick or treating? 
Tips:
If you are new to the US and there will be Halloween parties at your children's school and you do not want to ask your colleagues for advice, feel free to talk to your child's teacher. The teacher is actually the best person to ask these questions to, even if you do ask your colleagues as well, because the teacher knows what the exact event will be like at the school and if there are any special rules about the kinds of costumes or other related information. 

Halloween Greetings 
Wishing someone a Happy Halloween is as easy as saying 'Happy Halloween.' Other ways to wish someone on Halloween, especially if it is Halloween day or the weekend of and you know they are going to a party or trick or treating with their kids: 
  1. Have fun at the party this weekend! / Have fun trick or treating with your kids! 
  2. Stay safe and have fun! 
  3. Have a good time! 
  4. Don't eat too much candy! 
  5. Suggest another greeting in the comments section below! 
Dressing up at Work for Halloween 
Dressing up for Halloween at work can consist of different things depending on your company or team's culture. Here are a few ideas: 
  1. Wearing a costume to work during office hours. 
  2. Decorating the office in a Halloween theme or color pattern (orange and black). 
  3. A Halloween party during working hours, probably over lunchtime. 
  4. A meeting at a pub, bar or restaurant after work. 
  5. Others as defined by your company culture. Feel free to share interesting experiences or ideas in the comments section below! 
Don't be surprised that if you to a restaurant, a store, a gas station or any other place of business on Halloween, you may see employees of that establishment dressed up for Halloween while they help you as well! 

If you're looking to improve your rapport with your American colleagues, contact us for personalized coaching to help you build relationships at work and improve your career. 

Related Posts: 
What is Halloween and Trick or Treating? (with videos) 
The Mask Makes or Breaks the Man (Personal Halloween Story) 
Halloween Vocabulary in American English 
See more photos of Halloween at Oglethorpe University 

tags: English as a Second Language, ESL. ESOL, Phrases in American English 
Photo credits from flickr creative commons: Bear: Emma Story, Candy Corn: m01229, Pumpkin with candy: Jennifer Kumar, carved pumpkin: Matthew Dillon, dog as pirate, Anne Marie, Pug and Pumpkin: DePuglet Pugs, Keep Out Halloween Decor: Oglethorpe University

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