For people with atypical schedules like nursing, celebrating Halloween at home is not guaranteed. A new nurse may have a hard time adjusting to working Halloween night, as most people celebrate the holidays with their families. Although seasoned nurses know that working holidays is often part of the job.

If you know you will be working on Halloween night, find ways to enjoy the festivities despite being at work. I’m sure your coworkers would rather be home, but what about the patients that are stuck there as well. They all want to have the best Halloween possible, even in a hospital.

Hospitals are a bit spooky on their own, so it will be easy to add some cobwebs, jack-o-lanterns, and string lights. A favorite of mine is adding purple and orange string lights around desks and windows if possible. When it comes to celebrating Halloween at work, your attitude is everything. If you are positive and smiling, the day will be more enjoyable.

1. Wear a Costume

Halloween is pretty much the only day of work you can show up with a witch hat or dressed up as a coffee cup. The majority of adults love the holiday just as much as children, if not more. Whether you have children or not, you can still project that youthful spirit around the hospital. 

The people who would really benefit from all the happiness and creative costumes are your patients. They see you in your scrubs every day and would surely be entertained by seeing you wear a vampire costume. It makes the day more interesting and fun for everyone. It also distracts the patients from the fact that they’re sick or injured. 

Costume ideas:

  • Old-fashioned nursing uniform – this can include the white gown with the hat.
  • Operation game – remember that silly game, dress up like it.
  • Witch hat – for people who don’t have time or want a full costume. 
  • Dorothy Wizard of Oz – you need blue ribbons for your hair and a blue checkered dress. 
  • Vampire – slick back your hair and darken your eyebrows, maybe add fake blood too. 
  • Coffee cup – we all run on coffee, so dress up like it.

2. Decorate the Hospital

If you and other nurses are able to take a break, plan ahead to bring in decorations to the floor you work on. And have other nurses decorate other floors as well. You can even choose different themes for each one. Bringing in a few carved pumpkins and some string lights can turn the hospital from a dreary place into a spooky lair. Since the children cannot see their home decorated, seeing the hospital decorated is the next best thing. 

What makes the holiday so special is the extra cheeriness that is spread around. This kind of excitement is so important, especially in a place where feelings of sadness are common. 

3. Halloween Parade & Costume Contest

For all the children in the hospital that night, throwing a small Halloween parade would take their minds off not celebrating with their friends. Plan ahead with other nurses to make time for a Halloween parade. Get the parents excited and have them bring in a costume for their child or children. Then play music (I suggest The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack) and have the kids walk or be pushed in a wheelchair around the floor. 

Another idea is to have a costume contest with the children, schools often do this on Halloween, so this would add to the normalcy. Halloween is especially important for young children and keeping their child-like sense of wonder.

4. Trick-or-Treating

For pediatric patients, they will miss being able to trick-or-treat and go knocking on people’s doors. Team up with other hospital staff members to find an hour to have the children go trick-or-treating around the hospital. Make each department a different type of candy/theme and have the children say trick-or-treat. This will give them a fairly authentic Halloween night experience. The adult patients and parents are sure to enjoy it too.

5. Have a Photo Shoot

Remember to take pictures of this fun event for you and everyone else to look back on. Memories like this give optimism that life can still be joyful even in the present situation. Also, they would be great to hang in the patient’s room. Having a photoshoot with the doctors, nurses, and patients will bring everyone together over this fun event. 

Photoshoot props:

  • Pumpkins.
  • Operation game.
  • Fake stethoscope.
  • Old-fashioned doctor head mirror.
  • Old-fashioned nursing hat.
  • Small scarecrow

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