How to celebrate Thanksgiving with a loved one in the hospital

What do we do when a family member is in the hospital for Thanksgiving?
How to celebrate Thanksgiving with a loved one in the hospital

Thanksgiving is usually a time when the whole family comes together to celebrate. There is turkey and cranberries and, of course, pumkin pie, and everybody shares something that they are thankful for. But what do we do if a member of the family is laid up in the hospital and can’t be at the family gathering?

We think of how we would feel if we had to miss out on the family celebration, and what we would want done, and then we do our best to make it happen for our loved one.

A family Thanksgiving celebration can happen in the hospital just as it can in your home, if you follow a few basic steps.


Step 1

Talk to the family

Talk to all the members of the family. Find out how they would feel about spending at least part of Thanksgiving day in the hospital with the sick loved one.

Step 2

Talk to hospital staff

Talk to the nurse in charge of the unite your loved one is on. Ask if there is anywhere available where your family could have a little celebration together. Explain that you want the patient to be part of your Thanksgiving and ask what would be permissable.

The nurse will have to check with the doctor and will let you know how much the patient can handle, and if you will be allowed to bring food and have a meal together.

Step 3

Plan the menu for the meal

Plan a menu and divide up responsibilities. Think of it as packing for a picnic.

Step 4

Plan a program

If your family tradition involves music, make sure the musicians are willing to bring their instruments. If you normally talk about what you are thankful for, make sure everyone is thinking about what they will say. Check with the hospital staff to find out how much the patient will be able to handle before wearing out.

Step 5

If you can not have a meal together

If it is not possible to have a meal together with the patient, have your dinner early and plan on making up a plate to take to the patient. Bring the meal to the hospital room and let the patient eat before continuing to step 8

Step 6

Day of celebration

Prepare the food at home, and bring it just before the meal is to be served.

Someone should be at the hospital helping the patient get cleaned up, unless a nurse has promised to take on the responsibility. Another person should supervise setting out the meal.

Step 7

The dinner

Wheel the patient to the room when the meal is all set up.

Make sure the patient is served first.

Make the mealtime a joyful celebration, with plenty of laughter and reminiscing.

Step 8

After dinner

After the meal, either have someone take the patient back to bed for a short rest while the others clean up before continuing with the celebration, or, if the patient is feeling up to it, continue on in the same room.

Get out the musical instruments and sing, or go around the room listing things you are thankful for. Finish the celebration with hugs and a prayer to have the next celebration around the family table at home.

Things Needed
• Turkey dinner
• coolers
• paper plates
• cups
• cutlery
• serving dishes
• napkins
• table cloth or place mats
• family
• guitars or other instruments if you have them

Tips & Warnings
• Nurses love celebrations, too, and will be as accommodating as possible. Be flexible and book a time when they will have a room free.
• You will need one hundred percent support to make it a memorable day.
• Be sure to delegate the responsibility of bringing plates cutlery, a table cloth, napkins, and anything else that might not be available at the hospital.
• If you need coffee, you can usually buy it right in the hospital, and if you want water, the hospital will most likely be willing to supply you with that, especially if you have brought your own cups.
• Keep your hot foods in their pots, and wrap the pots in towels to keep them warm. Pack hot foods in one picnic cooler and cold foods in another. Pack serving dishes if you want to be fancy.
• If you have small children, practice hospital manners with them before taking them.
• Keep a close watch on the patient and don’t hesitate to cut the celebration short if necessary
• Ask the hospital staff to fill you in on any rules that should be observed, such as no lighting matches, etc.


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