Making the Holidays Fun for Nurses

Making the Holidays Fun for Nurses

Managers and any other health care staff who are supervising nurses—whether it’s in a hospital/medical center, an urgent care, or even at a private physician’s office—should know that holidays can be tough for your employees.

Anytime your staff is working on or around a holiday, that’s time they’re not spending with friends/family. That can be hard on them, no doubt.

But there are a lot of things you can do to make the holidays fun. When your nurses are happy, your patients can be happier. Their families can be happy. And being in the hospital or just being sick becomes easier to deal with.

Kelly Jo Wilson, MSN (Ed), RN , a Quality Nurse Coordinator—Transplant at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, contributed a lot of ideas for how you can make this happen.

Remember, though—the most important aspect to remember is that you have to become involved to make the holidays fun as well.


Wilson suggests that you hold a holiday party for your staff. Most staff won’t mind pitching in with money or food, she says. But you have to head this up. It will mean more if you organize it all yourself, as opposed to dumping it on a staff member.

“Health care staff work hard all year, and a little incentive goes a long way,” she says. “Raise some funds, cook some food, and give the staff a good time!”

Food—and lots of it!

During the holiday season, treat your staff to some surprises. Have a catered lunch or dinner or even organize a potluck.

Cookie Exchange

Most people love cookies—and those who bake like to share their wares. Wilson says, “Cookie Exchanges are wonderful ways to let those staff members who love to cook and share their love of food with everyone else. Then you can exchange the different types of cookies. This is also a team-building exercise.”

Gift Cards

Even giving your nurses a $5 gift card for coffee will make a huge difference. It will give them a boost. Wilson stresses to be sure not to forget anyone or it could backfire.


Wilson suggests that you hone in on everyone’s competitive side and have some fun contests. Some ideas are: ugliest sweater, best cookie, best-decorated med car, or best holiday scrubs. “It’s a fun way to engage staff during the holidays,” she says.

One thing to keep in mind: “The manager has to be supportive and really the key person to organize. Even if they delegate to a party council or groups within the unit, they must engage in some way to truly show their appreciation and support,” says Wilson.

Various Faiths

Wilson says that if staff are of various faiths, encourage them to bring in a traditional dish that they make when celebrating with their family or friends. But there’s more: “Using a menorah or other decorative items according to their tradition is a great way to include everyone as well,” she says. Acknowledging everyone and their personal traditions is a great way to be inclusive.

“Give back to your nurses/health care staff who work so hard,” says Wilson.