“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

At least that’s what the song says, but what should you do when you aren’t going to “be home for Christmas” and don’t want to end up crying over your store-bought eggnog as you croon along to Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas”?

Here, I’ve made you a list of things you can do to help get you through the season. Ultimately, the kind of holiday you experience as a travel nurse is up to you. As you read through this list see if you can find even one thing from it to give you a boost this holiday season.

1. Connect

You should be making efforts to connect with your community and coworkers at whatever destination you are assigned to, no matter the time of year. That being said, when you know your assignment will have you away from the place you call home during the holiday season, be particularly mindful of forging connections. Having people to spend time with and share meals with can help ease the loneliness that the holiday season can sometimes bring on.

2. Work

Working holiday shifts can be a profitable way to spend the holidays. Holiday shifts often pay time and a half or even double. Put that in your pocket and relax a bit with the (usually) slower-paced work environment. This can feel even a bit festive if you can do number four!

3. Holiday Scrubs

Keeping in mind that you should always comply with your facility’s dress code rules; if the freedom to wear patterned scrubs is allowed, lean into it! Wearing festive scrubs can bring a sense of whimsy not only to you, but your coworkers, and your patients as well. 

4. Decorate!

Just because your housing arrangements are temporary doesn’t mean you can’t display your holiday spirit. Decorating your dwelling can make it a warm and inviting place to come home to after work to lift your spirit. If your facility allows for it, do some decorating in your workspace. Maybe your coworkers would get on board with the idea and join in. Paper garland, stringing cranberries and popcorn, cutting snowflakes from coffee filters; these are all simple things that can bring the festivities into the place you spend most of your time.

5. Video Chat!

Use the internet to its full advantage by staying connected with your people during the holidays. You can actually call your family, friends, and other loved ones and see their faces in real-time. Plan times to chat with your loved ones. Sometimes it’s totally fine when you call and the other person is busy and can’t talk right then. But if the holidays come and go and all you’ve had are missed connections and short hurried chats, it won’t feel very merry. Planning these video chats will help ensure that the person on the other side of the video has planned to spend time engaging with you. Make these chats special by doing something together. Maybe you and the person you’ve called both bake the same holiday recipe. Or watch your favorite Christmas movie at the same time and have your side commentary and reactions double the entertainment.

6. Volunteer

No matter your assignment location, you should be able to find opportunities to volunteer, if you’re interested. Maybe this means ringing the bell in a Santa suit outside of a store. Maybe it means serving a meal at a community shelter or home. Maybe it means visiting the local pet shelter and reading to the animals or taking them on a walk. Maybe it means helping with a food drive for a food bank. Spending a holiday off from work in a way that has you giving of your time and energy to others can be an uplifting feeling.

7. Wanna-dos

Maybe you can’t go all the way home for Christmas, but you can plan to do something that’s been on your list of “wanna-dos.” Do that hike you’ve been wondering about. Or make a reservation at that restaurant that boasts the best oysters.  Go camping, spend the day at the beach, or hit the slopes with your snowboard. Go to the movie theater, buy the popcorn and soda combo even though it’s not a good deal and dive into a Hollywood hit (or miss, as sometimes can be the case).

8. Friendsgiving and Friendsmas

There’s a reason these two plays on the holiday names exist. People do this. They get together with friends to celebrate the holidays. Starting new traditions with friends is a great way to cultivate excitement, and who knows, maybe you’ll learn some new tricks in the kitchen along the way.

9. Bake

Dig out some of your favorite childhood family recipes for holiday treats, or browse around on Pinterest and get to baking! The actual baking is, of course, a lot of fun, but another important part of this holiday tradition is the sharing of it. Take some to your neighbors, take some to your friends, and take some into work.

10. Activities

Check out your city or town’s community website and look at their events calendar. Lots of towns and cities host various holiday activities to celebrate. Light shows that are set to the timing of Christmas music are hugely popular. Some restaurants and hotels put on Christmas brunches, lunches, and/or suppers and even parties. Go ice skating, or to a holiday production like the Nutcracker ballet, or the Symphony.

11. Before or After

When you know that you’ll be away during the holiday season, don’t just give up. Plan to celebrate with your loved ones either before or after! Christmas music can be played at any time of the year. Your reindeer sweater will be just as funny before or after. You can always eat. You can always give gifts and open gifts. Don’t let the fact that on a specific date you won’t be together, make it happen. Before, or after!

Missing family and loved ones who are far away from you during the holidays can be tough. These ideas will not erase those feelings of nostalgia or sadness, but they can help you to find joy and happiness in spite of them. If you are looking for a travel nursing assignment during the holidays, give us a call and one of our recruiters will discuss your options.

Written by Miranda Booher

As a twelve-year Registered Nurse with a healthy background in travel nursing and healthcare marketing, Miranda brings an interesting combination of stellar copywriting skills and first-hand nursing experience to the table. Miranda understands the industry and has a impeccable ability to write about it. And speaking of travel - Miranda currently lives in Uruguay, though she maintains an active Registered Nurse license in the state of Ohio and stays current on the latest healthcare news through her writing. When she is not creating killer copy, or serving others through her work as a nurse, you can find her hanging out on the beach with her loyal husband, three crazy kids, and their beautiful German Shepherd-Husky dog.

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