Texas Hospitals Spread Seasonal Cheer with Holiday Traditions

Hospitals across Texas host celebrations to boost patient and staff morale.


The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio


A NICU patient dressed as a ladybug, courtesy of The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Because of the pandemic, the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio implemented reverse trick-or-treating. The event started last year and will continue this year. With reverse trick-or-treating, the children stay in their hospital rooms and stand or sit in the doorway and small groups of associates in costumes go by and fill up the children’s bags with goodies and pose for photos. Before the pandemic, the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio hosted a Halloween parade in which associates from each department stood along the parade route through the hospital’s lobby and the children walked along and had their bags filled with treats.

In addition, the nurses and child life specialists create tiny – sometimes elaborate – costumes for their littlest patients in the neonatal intensive care unit. The costumes are precious, becoming a treasured keepsake, and the parents are grateful for the chance to see their babies participate in their first Halloween.


One of 2020’s Christmas trees, courtesy of The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

For the past five years, the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio has hosted a Christmas tree decorating contest among their hospital units and departments. The hospital purchases 50 trees and distributes them to groups of associates who wish to participate. They decorate the trees and place in the hospital lobby by early December, transforming the space into a winter wonderland. Each tree has a special theme from Disney movies and superheroes to angels and gingerbread people. The trees are judged, and trophies are awarded in various categories.

In mid-December, the hospital donates the trees to a local Catholic charities organization that selects families they are already helping with food, clothing or shelter – families who would not otherwise have a Christmas tree.

The Hospitals of Providence


Frontline staff celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020, courtesy of The Hospitals of Providence

The Hospitals of Providence in El Paso hold a Fall Festival each year for their employees. The festival includes pumpkin decorating and costume contests. They also hold reverse trick-or-treating for their pediatric patients. In addition, they serve warm meals and pumpkin pie to employees who are working on Thanksgiving.


Staff dressed for Christmas celebrations, courtesy of The Hospitals of Providence


Families enjoying a day of fun at 2019’s Winterfest, courtesy of The Hospitals of Providence

During the holidays at the Hospitals of Providence, a week of fun events is held for employees. This includes an employee appreciation breakfast, a door decorating contest, an ugly sweater contest and, in previous years, a family Winterfest day with ice skating and fun activities. They also serve warm meals to employees working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Medical City


Medical City Denton Staff volunteering with the Salvation Army, courtesy of Medical City Denton

In North Texas, Medical City hospitals ring in the holidays by giving back to their communities. Medical City Denton celebrates by volunteering to ring the red kettle bell for the Salvation Army at Christmas.


Medical City McKinney staff presenting a check to the McKinney Education Foundation, courtesy of Medical City McKinney

Medical City McKinney colleagues have a tradition of supporting local charities during the holiday season. Last year, they raised a total of $30,000 for the Community Food Pantry of McKinney, the McKinney Education Foundation, the Samaritan Inn and the Community Lifeline Center.


Staff members preparing to hand out turkeys to colleagues, courtesy of Medical City Dallas

For Thanksgiving, Medical City Dallas leaders host the annual Medical City Dallas Turkey Toss where they hand out free turkeys to colleagues. It’s a time for their leaders to show their appreciation and thanks for the exceptional caregivers who provide quality, patient-centered care each day.

St. David’s HealthCare


A NICU patient dressed up as Baby Yoda in 2020, courtesy of St. David’s HealthCare

St. David’s HealthCare kicks off the holiday season with a Halloween costume contest at the St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas. Nurses, parents and volunteers help dress up the tiniest patients in the neonatal intensive care unit. Every baby is a winner and receives a “Cutest Pumpkin in the Patch” certificate and photo.


A therapy dog greets a patient, courtesy of St. David’s HealthCare

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, therapy dogs from Divine Canines — a non-profit located in Austin — dressed in festive, holiday attire in a holiday therapy dog parade at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital to spread holiday cheer to patients and employees.


Santa, Mrs. Claus and elves taking a photo with a patient in 2019, courtesy of St. David’s HealthCare


Santa paying a virtual visit to 2-year-old Arabella Rose and her mom, Carolyn in 2020, courtesy of St. David’s HealthCare

Also, to spread Christmas cheer, Santa makes an appearance in the pediatric wards each year. Last year, Santa couldn’t come in-person due to COVID-19, so he video called in to make sure that the patients were able to share their Christmas wishes. Prior to the pandemic, Santa and Mrs. Claus would also visit the NICU so that new parents could have a photo with Santa for their baby’s first Christmas.