Clinicians, especially nurses, love a good potluck to celebrate a holiday when it falls on a workday. But food is just one way to make Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond more fun when all you’d rather be doing is relaxing with family.
Here, nurses and other health pros share the traditions at their facility, as well as their own personal strategies, that help them embrace working holidays.
Bring extra food to work
Okay, so this is an extension of the potluck idea, but you don’t need to plan it ahead of time. Especially if you’re working the night shift, which starts as the holiday is winding down, bring in some leftovers for your coworkers. If no one is expecting to snack on some turkey between patients, you’ll be that much more popular.
A1: the trauma nurse in me loves holidays that involve fireworks and lunacy. 🤷🏼♀️
My parents always sent me to work with tons of food to share with my coworkers, no matter what holiday it was, just so we knew someone was thinking of us while we were busy working. #tweetrn
— Danielle, RN 🐱 (@DaniRN89) November 19, 2019
Decorations and costumes
Making your workplace look like your home can bring a smile to your face. You can ask your coworkers to bring one type of decoration they would’ve used at home or you can bring a few yourself and hand them out to people to put up in the way they think looks best. You might even be able to take your favorites home!
#tweetRN A4: some nurses bring in stockings to hang and we put gifts in them. potlucks. dressing up in costumes.
— Only in the ICU (@OnlyintheICU) November 19, 2019
If you plan enough in advance, you can coordinate a gift exchange. If you don’t, you can get in the holiday spirit by giving and not expecting anything in return. If you go the decoration route, put them in the stockings! (Need a gift idea? These hilarious pens are sure to lighten the mood.)
Get to know your patients
Many nurses and APPs say that holidays can be slow (depending on your unit) so you get more one-on-one time with patients. This can definitely make your shift more satisfying. Just don’t forget the holidays are a challenging time for people — keep an eye out for symptoms of depression.
Use your breaks to talk to loved ones
Breaks may be few and far between so make the most of them. Try to FaceTime with friends or family, and check their social media activity, if it won’t make you feel too sad. Some nurses have sweet stories of their families visiting them at work, so you can request that, too, if you like!
A1: my favorite was when I had to work one Christmas and my husband and kids surprised me by coming at lunchtime ❤️❤️❤️ #tweetrn
— reepRN (@reepRN) November 19, 2019
Don’t overburden yourself at home
One pro of working during the holidays is that you’ve got a great excuse not to take on the tiring tasks of cooking, entertaining visitors and cleaning up. After all, you weren’t even there for most of it!
Be prepared, if you have to contact leadership
You never know what will happen during a holiday shift, and not everyone you need will be at work that day. Make sure you have the contact information for anyone you’d need to get in touch with, should something go wrong.
What do you wish someone told you about working major holidays before your first one? Share your best tips in the comments below.