Being in the hospital over Christmas is never easy for anyone. I had a friend who was in the hospital over Christmas a couple of years ago. She’s in remission now but she said it was the most depressing place to be at Christmas time. Why not start a new Christmas tradition and have your family help out with the kids who have to be there for Christmas? Here are some ways you and your family can help.

1) Spend time:

6A favorite for most patients and their families is to have those they cherish come for a visit. Spend time with your loved one when they are in the hospital. Your presence will serve to help the time go by more quickly, ease their fears and may even reduce their pain. If you can get them laughing (and it’s not too painful), that’s even better. Laughter speeds the healing process, reduces stress and improves sleep.

2) Remember to be a good listener:

Don’t cloud the air with too many of your own stories when you’re at someone’s bedside. Most patients and their families have a lot they want to talk about when they’re in the hospital. It’s a whole new world for most people who become admitted. People often feel better if they can share about their experience of being a patient. Make eye contact with them while they talk, nod and ask questions about their experience. Your hospitalized friend will feel loved if they know someone has been listening to what they have been going through.

3) Gifts for patients:6

Remember to give gifts that someone in the hospital can use right now. An iPad, bluetooth speaker for a cell phone or an e-book reader like a Kindle are ideal gifts for someone in the hospital. This way they can watch movies, read a book in a variety of font sizes or listen to their favourite music when they feel up to it.

4) Gifts for families of patients:

Whether it’s missing work to stay with their loved one, paying for lodging or constantly having to eat in the cafeteria, people with a close relative in the hospital for days or weeks on end can spend a small fortune. Here’s how you can lend a hand and offset their financial burden:
Pay for a few nights at a nearby motel so the family can shower and rest.
Give them gift certificates to local restaurants that deliver.
Gift them with gas cards if they travel back and forth every day from home.
Stay and visit with the patient so they can rest and recharge their own energy. Care giving is as taxing as being a patient.

5) Help with things back at home:

If a friend of yours lands in the hospital during the holidays, it is probably unexpected, and they may have lots of things left undone back at home. Offer to help manage these things for them during their stay. Take out their trash, feed their pets or watch their kids to take a load off their mind. If a child is hospitalized, it’s likely their parents need the same sort of help as well. Parents of a hospitalized child might need help with Christmas shopping, house cleaning, meal preparation or taking their other kids to lessons, school or seasonal parties. Don’t hesitate to offer this type of specific help. Your willingness to jump in and be a part of the family will help this hospital stay land softer on your friend.

6) Bring in a mini Christmas tree with LED lights:1

Popular and colourful, this idea can set a warm and festive tone for almost anyone during the holidays. If live plants are not allowed, try finding a faux variety.

7) String colorful lights around the room and in the window.

8) Have a Christmas movie marathon:

Have a movie marathon with a friend in the hospital. I recommend these three to get you started: Elf, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

9) Download seasonal or inspirational music and keep it on repeat: 

Music has its own magic and can often heal things that medicine cannot.

10) Bring in scents of Christmas:

If allowed, bring in an air freshener that smells like apple or pumpkin pie.

11) Try to make things a little easier: 

Ask your friend if they want to be moved to a room where it’s easy to see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve. If so, hospital staff may be able to accommodate. Then, at midnight, share a toast of sparkling cider or Perrier.

12) Make some Christmas treats:1

Homemade treats like holiday cookies and cakes are fun and familiar.

13) Create a poster board with family pictures displayed for all to see.

14) Bring in Some Family Cheer:

Arrange for your friend to have a Skype visit with far-away family and friends who couldn’t visit during the holidays.

15) Share read-aloud stories of the season with children who are hospitalized.

Written by Cleo Neufeld

Cleo Neufeld

Before meeting the love of her life, Cleo was a single mother to a beautiful little girl for many years. She shares her expertise in single parenting, building a relationship, living on a budget and more.