December 13, 2021

How to Decorate a Hospital Room for the Holidays

Katie Taylor, CCLS Child Life On Call for SmileMakers Inc. This blog was originally posted for SmileMakers here. I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own. “Tis the season to be Jolly!” But what makes the season jolly? Is it trimming a Christmas tree or lighting a Menorah? Maybe it’s decorating […]

Katie Taylor, CCLS Child Life On Call for SmileMakers Inc.

This blog was originally posted for SmileMakers here. I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own.

“Tis the season to be Jolly!” But what makes the season jolly?

Is it trimming a Christmas tree or lighting a Menorah?

Maybe it’s decorating the house or buying presents for those that matter most.

No matter what it is, most people have some sort of tradition that makes this time of year feel special. So what happens when you are a child in the hospital or a family dealing with illness? Things that matter tend to shift… and not just for the child who is sick, but for the whole family.

As a Child Life Specialist, I find such joy in helping those children and families create an atmosphere that will help them make their hospital stay during a holiday as special as possible. One thing I have found helpful is to sit down with the child and their family and discuss the feelings they have regarding being in the hospital during the holiday season. What normal traditions do they have at home that we can do here in the hospital? Which traditions should be postponed for after discharge? Assessing what is most disappointing and recognizing that things are different, is just as important as thinking about some of the most joyous parts of the season.

Decorating a Hospital Room for the Holidays

From there, we work together to create a plan and figure out what we can do to make this moment, this room, this day fit our desires. It’s time to be creative!

Here are a few simple ideas to help the children and their families create a holiday atmosphere within their hospital room. These are great ways that allow children to take control of decorating while being creative. This is also a good way to get their siblings, parents, grandparents, or anyone else involved!

Decorating a Hospital Room for the Holidays

Sticker scenes are a great way to assess the patient’s developmental level and observe the fine-motor skills tasks they are able to complete. Ask the parents if they think the hospitalization has affected their normal development.

A simple paper garland or paper stockings give children an opportunity to work on making choices (which pattern do they want for their garland) and fine motor skills (tracing patterns, coloring/drawing/writing, cutting out the patterns). Both of these projects could also be used as gifts as well (hint hint, I bet your care team would LOVE to feature your work at the nurses’ station!). Let us know how you plan on spreading cheer!

Decorating a Hospital Room for the Holidays

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