The horror and dread of a work Halloween bash

As part of a team-bonding initiative, our office is having its own Halloween party on Friday. It’s seen as an important event and has been scheduled for some time. The worst thing is that costumes are mandatory. I loathe Halloween, I hate the idea of wearing a costume and I’m frozen with fear. Any suggestions on getting through the night with my integrity in tact? Maria, 34,

WHILE I can understand your phobia, I think you should spend one Halloween in the US just to glimpse how great it can be. You can scarf orange-tipped candy corn (delicious), eat foods you never knew could be eaten (goblin eyeball gobstoppers are a favourite of mine), observe gaggles of children dressed as Shrek and Spiderman heckling for treats to store in plastic pumpkins, and go wild in sheets with holes as a dress-up ghost – with nobody to judge you.

But I admit it, it’s not the classiest, or most profound of holidays (if it can be called such). And if you’re a recluse (ok, normal person who doesn’t like the idea of dressing up as a zombie in front of colleagues) and not a fan of sweets shaped like witches or slugs – I can see that you might find the prospect of a Halloween Party daunting.

But your folks up in HR are no dummies. Fancy dress is a great way to level the playing field, get the laughs going, and encourage people to experiment with their wilder sides in a work-sanctioned situation.

Remember: the great thing about Halloween is that you can brooch it any way you want. A little headband with a witch jauntily attached. A single jag of lipstick going from the corner of your mouth to your chin. See what I mean You don’t have to go wild. Use your imagination, try to let go of your substantial inhibitions and actually, God forbid, have some fun. You might just be surprised. And if you’re thinking of pulling a sickie, are you really willing to miss seeing your boss dressed as a ghoul?