Holiday Traditions Contribute to a Positive Workplace Culture

December 15, 2023

The winter holidays are marked with traditions. Although we may most often think about them in terms of family or community, celebrating traditions with our colleagues helps build feelings of community and may contribute to a positive work culture, both essential to our well-being as oncology nurse. 

What the Research Tells Us 

The solidarity that comes from celebrating traditions together can help ( “foster respect, avoid discrimination, promote cohesion, increase individual responsibility and spirit of service, motivate, improve communication, engage with work, and develop leadership.” Facilitating teamwork through by engaging in seasonal traditions “increases ( job satisfaction [and] may prevent turnover and shortage of nurses. . . . Facilitating good teamwork should be one of the priorities of every nurse leader.” Additionally, simply “including creative activities during a break”—such as celebrating a tradition—“can lift mood and promote oncology nurse self-care (” Finally, building a teamwork environment has been associated ( with a significant increase in patient-centered care.  

How ONS Members Celebrate Holiday Traditions in the Workplace 

ONS member Addi Georgantzis, MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC, OCN®, BMTCN®, shared a story from Samantha Sagun, BSN, RN, who works on the inpatient blood and marrow transplant unit at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey. For Sagun and her patients, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season of celebration. 

“Going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was one of my childhood dreams, and I wanted to somehow bring the parade to our patients. So on Thanksgiving Day 2022, I hauled a helium tank, more than a dozen balloons, some streamers, and sparkling cider onto my unit. I got a stretcher delivered to the unit, and we got to work. When anyone would have a few minutes to spare throughout the day, they would help decorate the ‘float.’ Patients, family members, and even different employees visited our work and took pictures. Everyone was excited!  

“Finally, the float was ready and the parade began. The float featured balloons that mimicked characters from the real Macy’s parade, and another cart followed with sparkling cider. Patients and their families lined the hallways, and many of them even joined in on the parade, sparkling cider in hand, smiles on their faces, wishing each other a happy Thanksgiving. It was truly beautiful seeing the patients actually enjoying their holiday spent in the hospital with us. 

“Since that first parade, we have made it our unit’s goal to find any reason to have a celebration. We feel like the patients need something that can make them forget that they’re in the hospital, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This year we had our second annual 8PE Thanksgiving Day Parade—we added even more characters to the float and served hot pretzels along with the sparkling cider for a true NYC experience. We also had a ‘Stem Cell Square’ instead of Herald Square, and a giant inflatable turkey greeted patients and families as they came on the unit. I am not joking when I say I love working the holiday because the patients need us to be the ones they celebrate with.” 

Holiday Traditions Contribute to a Positive Workplace Culture
Christmas tag tree in the break room at the Ballad Health Cancer Care in Tennessee

ONS member Stacie Davis, RN, MSN, OCN®, and her team at the Ballad Health Cancer Care in Tennessee recognize the season by delivering a little childhood wonder: 

“Many of our patients are raising their grandchildren. Our team collects the children’s names and others who we feel need a little love during the Christmas season and hangs them on tags featuring their age and gift suggestions on a tree in our break room. Typically, small groups will get together to secure a gift, then one special member of our team volunteers to wrap them. Her office explodes with boxes, ribbons, and wrapping paper each December,” Davis said.  

Holiday Traditions Contribute to a Positive Workplace Culture
Ballad Health Cancer Care team member's office "exploding" with gifts

She said that the gifts are given anonymously, and the families “are incredibly grateful. We want to make this the best holiday for them. One of my greatest joys from last year was a little lady showing everyone her ‘very cool’ new rainbow sneakers. She loved them so much that she glowed! We often cannot cure patients, but we can try to bring some joy.” 

ONS member Lorraine Le Stephens, RN, MSN, OCN®, celebrates a tradition of giving back with the Orange County ONS Chapter in California: 

“We support Chef Bruno through the pasta donation. Chef Bruno is the owner of the Anaheim White House restaurant and the founder of Caterina’s Club, a nonprofit that provides access to nutritional food, stable housing, and job training for youth in the community. During the holiday season, Caterina’s Club collects pasta and pasta sauce, and Chef Bruno whips up more than 100,000 pounds of pasta.  The Orange County ONS Chapter members participate in collecting pasta and pasta sauce, and with our donations, Caterina’s Club can continue their mission to fulfill their tradition of feeding hungry children and families in our community.” 

How do you celebrate traditions—holiday or otherwise—with your colleagues? Share your stories on our ONS Communities thread (

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