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October 19, 2016

Halloween & Small Talk with US Counterparts

Halloween falls on October 31st every year. Many equate Halloween with candy and dressing up in costumes, as in the picture to the right.
Children in Pop Culture Themed Halloween Costumes
Children in Pop Culture Themed
Halloween Costumes 
The girl to the right dressed up as a popular Monster High character (front), while the boy is a classic scary skeleton (back) for Halloween. 

Making small talk about this holiday is a good icebreaker with Americans throughout the U.S. 

Let's take a look at the small talk dos and don'ts when it comes to Halloween:

Acceptable topics:  
  • In general asking if they celebrate Halloween 
  • Is Halloween celebrated at work and how? 
  • If they wear costumes to work, what costume will they be wearing 
  • You can ask how you and/or your family (spouse or children) can celebrate this fall holiday
  • You can ask about trick or treating in the area, where are the safe neighborhoods, and what are the popular costumes
    Childrenlooking at all the candy they got from trick or treating.
    Children looking at all the candy they
    got from trick or treating.
  • Ask if you should give out candy to trick or treaters coming to your house and how you would do that
  • Ask about all the different candies or treats that can be given for trick or treating 
  • Ask what exactly is trick or treating (see this post for more)  


Only if you know they have children, you can ask them how their children celebrate Halloween at school, and if they go trick or treating or participate in any other activities.  (Note, it's ok to bring up/talk about your own children and ask questions in relation to your own children, but take care to talk about other's children unless you are already friends with your colleague and know they have children.) 

Avoidable topics: 
Baby reaches out to touch a creepy pirate.
Baby reaches out to touch a
creepy pirate.
Some Americans may not celebrate Halloween for religious reasons. It's better not to talk about the connection between Halloween and religion with your US counterparts.   

Sample Small Talk Conversation Starters 
See this post for more than 60 questions you can use to start conversations.

As an expat or foreigner in the U.S., have you made small talk with Americans about this holiday? Share your experience in the comments below.

If you are an American with more ideas or feedback about making small talk or regional differences on this holiday, let us know in the comments.

Jennifer Kumar, author of this post, is the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys. Authentic Journeys provides U.S. Culture Preparation Training for expats in or going to the U.S. as well as global and virtual team members working with Americans (or Indians!). Contact us to know more today. 

Photos courtesy of Amanda McMahon. Amanda is a US based blogger and mom of two. Their family spent two years living in India so the kids could know their Indian heritage and family.

Related Posts: 
What is Halloween & Trick or Treating?  
Words that describe Halloween (vocabulary building)  
Yearly Calendar of Holidays in the USA 
U.S. Cross-Culture Training - Small Talk What to Say, What not to Say 

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.