Ways to Brighten the Holidays for Hospital-Bound Kids

Unfortunately, you can’t time if and when kids will get ill – and occasionally, the illness can be serious enough to land them in hospital for a night, or longer. Also, sickness doesn’t care if it’s Christmas.

Whatever reason a little one ends up in medical care when they should just be looking forward to their visit from Santa, here are six ways to make kids (including your own) feel the holiday cheer… even in a hospital room. (Some of these suggestions can also be used if you’re trying to cheer up an adult in hospital.)

1. Decorate Their Room

Hospital rooms aren’t going to be featured in any decor magazines any time soon. They’re pretty drab, to say the least. However, with the permission of hospital staff, you can bring some holiday cheer to a kid who can’t get out to see Christmas lights.

The solution? Brings the lights to them! The Huffington Post suggests stringing up colorful lights around their room and in the window, and even bringing in a mini-Christmas tree with LED lights around it. If natural plants aren’t allowed because of allergies or other reasons, buy a faux tree, adds the source.

2. Give Them Games

City of Hope explains that one of the priorities of hospital workers is to keep patients busy and distracted, presumably so they don’t get down about their temporary holiday home.

With that in mind, ideal gifts to give patients in hospitals include arts and crafts activities, as well as puzzles or games. Hand-held video games can also work. Of course, if you have time, then playing one of those games with a young person can make the moment even more meaningful.

3. Organize a Visit From a Local Celebrity

Okay, this one admittedly may be a long shot. However, a celebrity visit doesn’t have to be Selena Gomez (who, by the way, has visited kids in the hospital during the holidays). You can find someone who is a local hero or has some celebrity status, even if they don’t have any music awards to their name.

Think about asking a local minor league hockey team drop by to spread cheer to kids, while signing jerseys or pucks (some local sports organizations do this on their own already). A local firefighter or police officer can also be a hit.


4. Arrange Live Entertainment

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (with a main campus in Boston) organizes its own Winter Wonderland Party to spread cheer to its residents during the festive season. The weeklong celebration has daily entertainment to get pediatric patients smiling.

However, not every health institute will have its own holiday entertainment schedule lined up. You can take a page from the Dana-Farber Institute and arrange for singers, magicians, storytellers or jugglers to pay a visit (with the blessing or even the help of the hospital staff). The entertainment can take place in a common area, a hospital hallway, or in individual rooms if possible.

5. Go Caroling Indoors

If you’re in a choir, or just have some friends who like to sing, gather them together and ask your local hospital if you can go room-to-room and sing some holiday classics. Think of the more popular songs if you’re visiting young kids, so they can sing along (like Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Frosty the Snowman, as examples).

Having a trio of singers or a larger group show up to a hospital room can put a smile on a kid’s face – or any aged patient, for that matter. Some kids may not be well enough to sing along, but if they want to join in – by all means, encourage it!

6. Bring Santa Himself

There’s nothing quite like the magic and wonder of Jolly old Saint Nick himself to make a kid beam from ear to ear. A visit prior to Christmas from Santa can go a long way, but imagine how great it could be if you got him to come to a local hospital on Christmas Day!

Many hospitals around the world have made this happen, so it’s not far-fetched. If you can’t find a “Santa” who’s up to the job that day, consider strapping on the beard and suit and doing the job yourself. Of course, have a sack of age-appropriate toys to hand out.

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Jeff Hayward

Jeff Hayward

Jeff has more than 15 years of experience writing professionally about health, travel and the arts among other subjects. He continuously looks to improve his own overall health through exercise, diet and mindfulness. He is also a proud stay-at-home dad that loves taking photographs both professionally and as a hobby.