Christmas at the Hospital

Spending the holidays visiting family or friends at the hospital? Learn how to brighten up any holiday hospital stay.

Dec. 11, 2019 3   min read

New dad holds baby during Christmas at the hospital

The holiday season is a time for celebration with family and friends. It's also a busy time at hospitals around the country. While spending the holidays at the hospital isn't ideal, here are a few ways you can brighten up your loved one's hospital stay during the Christmas season.

1. Decorate the Hospital Room

Adding color brings joy and happiness to any hospital room that your loved one is staying in over the holidays. And it doesn’t have to be an elaborate decoration, especially given the space and safety restrictions you’ll probably be working with.

Use warm colors like red, orange and yellow, and cool colors like green and blue to brighten up the room and help your loved one feel happy and energetic. Be sure to check hospital guidelines before putting up any decorations.

t Rochester General Hospital,  we decorate each unit during the holidays," said Rachelle Stevens, Nurse Director for Rochester Regional Health. "It really brings joy to our patients who are staying with us, and we even encourage families to bring their own decorations, especially those who are here for an extended period of time."

Decoration ideas:

  • Small faux treeWhat’s Christmas without a tree? Nowadays, faux trees are just as impressive as real trees, often more affordable, and much easier to maintain. Decorate and brighten up a room with an array of colors, lights, and ornaments.

  • Electric candlesHospitals don’t permit open flames, but electric or battery-operated candles are a great alternative. And there are plenty of Hanukkah menorahs and Kwanza kinaras to choose from too.

  • Family photosThe holidays are a time for family. Whether they can visit or not during the holidays, it's still nice to see the familiar faces of your loved ones. Bring some family photos and place them around the hospital room so the patient can feel more at home.  

  • WreathFew decorations say Christmas like a wreath does. It’s festive, colorful, easy to display, and affordable. Make sure your wreath is fire-resistive or fire retardant before hanging it up.

2. Bring in Christmas Treats

One of the biggest let downs of staying at the hospital during the holidays is missing out on the Christmas feast. But that’s not to say you can’t bring the gathering to the hospital (diet permitting).

Bring your loved one their favorite meal and Christmas treats (grandma’s cookies?). Remind them that home is where the heart is and that it doesn’t matter where Christmas takes place, as long as family is together.

Share the Joy: Are there patients staying at the hospital who don't have family visiting during the holidays? Invite them to spend time with you and your loved one or bring them some treats or decorations to brighten up their stay too.

"Even though our nurses and doctors are missing their own families during the holidays, they get the chance to provide care and make others feel better. And to them, that makes it all worth it," said Stevens.

3. Craft and Jam Out

Crafting is a great way to take a person’s mind off staying at the hospital, and it can inspire and boost morale.

From decorating your own ornaments to making your own Christmas cards, there are endless crafting ideas for the holidays.

Turn up the fun by jamming out to a holiday-themed music playlist while you craft. Be sure to check with staff about volume levels, so you don’t disturb other patients.

Holiday craft ideas:

  • Holiday card tree
  • Door wreath
  • Homemade Christmas cards
  • Ornaments
  • Painted pine cones
  • Nativity puppets
  • Stockings
  • Paper Dreidels
  • Wine cork Christmas tree or Menorah
  • DIY advent calendar
  • Mason jar snow globe

4. Holiday Movie Marathon

With streaming, access to holiday movies has never been easier. Take a break from crafting to get lost in some of the season’s best holiday classics.

If the hospital room has a television and DVD player, make a trip to Walmart and pick up your loved one’s favorites. Or set up a laptop and stream on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, or another streaming platform.

Streaming Tip: WiFi might not be the best for streaming at the hospital, but you can download your movies ahead of time or while you’re doing another activity.

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • A Christmas Story
  • Elf
  • Home Alone
  • Jingle All The Way
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • A Christmas Carol
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Die Hard
  • The Santa Clause
  • Eight Crazy Nights

5. Exchange Gifts with Patients and Staff

The holidays are a time for giving, and few things will make your loved one feel better than bringing joy to someone else this Christmas.

Help them give a gift to other patients or hospital staff. It doesn’t have to be much. Perhaps you can hand out some of the crafts you decorated together, or a holiday card with a thoughtful message or some Christmas cookies. It's the thought that counts.

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