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4 Fun Ways for Nurses to Celebrate the Holidays at Work

When you become a nurse, you realize you’re pretty much never getting any traditional holidays off. In fact, it’s a sad truth that cooking, drinking and travel accidents during the winter holidays often cause a hospital to be busier than ever.

Creating some fun celebrations at work not only can ease the stress of working during the holidays but can compensate, to a small degree, for nurses missing out on holiday gatherings at home. Promoting departmental holiday activities also can help cultivate teamwork and camaraderie among your nursing staff.

Your first step should be to create a group or committee to handle planning for next year’s holiday activities. Your holiday committee can develop and implement events for holidays throughout the year, and creating a volunteer group for this purpose helps cement a new institutional tradition that will provide continuity and honor institutional memory going forward while allowing for fresh ideas to bubble up periodically as membership in the group changes.

But don’t wait until next year to celebrate the winter holidays. Try these fun ideas – and feel free to adapt them to meet the unique needs of your department.

  1. Hold a “beach holiday” celebration. Wintertime. Sigh. It’s cold. It’s dark early. So why not throw a beach-themed celebration to relive the sunshine of summer? Offer a prize for best costume, decorate the break room with Caribbean blue streamers and inflatable palm trees, and encourage a potluck with beachy foods like cupcakes decorated with paper umbrellas.
  2. Promote an “ugly scrubs” contest. This twist on the “ugly sweater” contest can offer prizes for various categories of “ugly scrubs,” including “ugliest Christmas scrubs,” “ugliest 80s scrubs,” and so on. Have everyone wear their ugly scrubs on the same day – and be sure to take pictures!
  3. Hold a “Yankee swap” of gag gift cards. This idea works best for administrative departments. In a Yankee swap, each person brings a wrapped gag gift (in this case, a gift card in an unmarked envelope) and places it into the pool. They, in turn, receive a number (you can let each person draw a number from a hat) that represents their “picking order.” At the time of the swap, the person with #1 chooses a gift card, opens it and displays it for all to see. As each subsequent person picks and unwraps their gift card, they have the option of keeping it or swapping it for an already opened card. After everyone has picked, the first person gets to make the final choice to keep what she has or swap for someone else’s gift card. To promote hilarity, encourage people to bring “white elephant” type gift cards – ones that might be old and already used up, for example (surprise!), or cards for wacky gifts, like one for bacon toothpaste or for a nurse or doctor bobblehead. For real gift cards, limit the value to no more than $25. Provide refreshments or have participants bring potluck to promote a real party atmosphere.
  4. Collect non-perishable foods for a local food pantry during a designated “giving” week. Forget the boring and ubiquitous “door decorating” contest. In this version, volunteers decorate large collection boxes to hold donations, and they can win awards for best decorations, most food donated by weight or volume – or whatever your imagination comes up with. You can have fun, promote teamwork and do something good for the community all at the same time.

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