How Patients without Family Celebrate Holidays


When everyone is so concerned about being home for the holidays, many patients are stuck in a medical facility, and some of those people don’t have families to celebrate with. When members of the community realize this is the case, they volunteer to help spread the happiness to hospitals and nursing homes in wonderful, creative ways. Here’s a look at some of the most common and heart-warming actions.



This video shows staff from The Methodist Hospital in Houston caroling in the halls to brighten the patients’ days. Music has always been a way of lifting people’s spirits and putting smiles on faces, and this is especially true during the holidays. These hospital employees sing classics like “Feliz Navidad” and “White Christmas,” while Santa visits every patient.

It’s not only doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who hope to make the patients happier — many volunteers from the community will also contact the local hospitals and nursing homes to sing some of their favorite Hanukkah and Christmas songs. It’s a thoughtful way to put talent to use for a great cause.

If you like to sing, this could be the perfect opportunity to help someone. Volunteer tip: Talk to a local church choir to see if they’re already planning on volunteering. Then, ask if you can participate or if there’s any other way you can get involved.


Singing isn’t limited to typical Christmas caroling; any kind of musical performance can really make someone’s day. This video shows four kids who rock at their respective instruments performing “Have A Holly jolly Christmas” at a local nursing home. The kids sing, dance, wear matching outfits with Santa hats, and even harmonize. They receive an ovation from the delighted audience.

Many organizations and volunteer groups visit medical facilities to put on shows for the patients there. It allows the patients to mentally escape from their normal lives and experience the holiday festivities that may otherwise be difficult for them to reach.

If you’re part of a drama club, a band, or any sort of performance group, consider volunteering this holiday season. Volunteer tip: Prepare a simple but decorative show that would be easy to relocate to an unknown setting. Keep it fun and holiday themed, and don’t be afraid to incorporate your audience.

Gift Donations

If you watch this montage long enough, it may move you to tears. A group of volunteers, both kids and adults alike, visited a nursing home last year and handed out gifts to everyone. Children passed out stuffed snowmen and reindeer, and adults conversed with the patients. Handshakes, hugs, and anecdotes were shared, and it was all a very touching way to spread love to everyone at the nursing home.

Simply visiting and talking to patients can make a huge difference in their lives. Loneliness can be one of the hardest feelings to bear, so a hug and a conversation will mean the world to anyone who’s alone during the holidays.

This is one of the easiest ways to make a difference. You don’t need a group to head over to a medical facility and pay a patient a visit. Volunteer tip: It doesn’t take a lot of money to make someone happy, so don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of cash to spare. Pick up a festive stuffed animal, or write thoughtful holiday cards to give out.


This video shows a rather unique way of spreading Christmas flair to nursing homes. William Vanderslice created a traveling Christmas show that he literally drives to nursing homes. His 1984 Excalibur car is decked out in Christmas lights, and it pulls a trailer behind it that features a light-up polar bear and penguin… that tell holiday-themed jokes to each other.

While this is a great, original way to bring decorations to those who have none, there are simpler ways to make a facility festive. Most hospitals and nursing homes put up Christmas trees, menorahs, strings of lights, and a variety of typical decorations to fill the environment with holiday spirit.

Even if a facility decorates the area, there’s no reason you can’t add even more. Volunteer tip: Bring by Christmas ornaments, tinsel, a train set, or any other decoration that you can put in hospital lobbies or even in patients rooms.


Everyone’s busy throughout the year, but taking time out during the holidays to visit people in medical facilities would be a very thoughtful and rewarding way to spend a day. Anything from a hug to a song to a Christmas card can bring a smile to someone’s face, so if you want to spread happiness during the holiday season, find a great way to volunteer at a local hospital or nursing home.

Tera Rowland
Contributor Tera Rowland

Tera Rowland is the vice president of Soliant and has worked in the healthcare staffing industry for almost 20 years in public relations, social media, marketing and operations. In addition to Soliant, Tera worked at the Mayo Clinic as an internal communication manager and for the Children’s Miracle Network. She is a member of the American Marketing Association and the American Staffing Association. Also, Tera has served on the board of directors for the Jacksonville Women’s Leadership Forum as part of the communication committee. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations as well as a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of North Florida and has been published in the Huffington Post, Healthcare Finance News, Healthcare Traveler Magazine, and Scrubs Magazine. Make sure to read the rest of Tera's blogs!