And for children such as little Ayden McQuaid it can prey on their minds.
The six-year-old from Glasgow has cystic fibrosis and has spent two Christmases in the city's Yorkhill Hospital for Sick Children, though he hopes that this year he will be well enough to spend the big day at home.
But for Ayden, from Milton, and many other children, the Yorkhill Children's Foundation is determined to make their spell in hospital at this time of year extra-special.
YCF organises Christmas parties to make sure patients spending the festive season in the city hospital have the best time possible and don't miss out on the exciting build-up before the big day.
For three days, fun-filled parties have been doing the rounds of the wards at the Sick Kids' in a bid to ensure each child, whatever their illness, is distracted from treatments and operations for a while and experiences the joy of Christmas.
Each party involves music, dancing, and games, a magician, a balloon modeller, glitter tattooists and face painters.
Santa Claus himself also paid a visit from the North Pole to bring each child a gift and a give them the chance to write their letter to the big man.
And this year the Yorkhill Children's Foundation also organised for the party to travel to the children's ward at The Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, which is another facility the charity supports.
The entertainers travelled to the hospital in the Yorkhill Santa Sleigh Bus donated by the charity's Christmas Appeal sponsor, McGill's buses.
These events are just some of the many activities organised by the charity for young patients who are spending the festive season at hospital.
In the run-up to Christmas, Yorkhill Children's Foundation organised for Cairngorm Reindeer Herd to parade around the hospital, and more than 100 volunteers joined together to decorate the entire hospital and the Christmas tree lights were switched on by rugby players from Glasgow Warriors.
David Welch, director of fundraising at Yorkhill Children's Foundation, said: "The Christmas parties are a great way of bringing children, families and staff together to celebrate this special time of year.
"These activities help boost the children's morale, whether they are bed-bound, in isolation or are visiting the emergency department.
"We want to make sure everyone is touched by the excitement Christmas brings.
"We're very grateful to the staff at the hospitals for all their help and to McGill's buses for providing the fantastic Yorkhill Santa Sleigh Bus.
"We hope these parties set the children and their families up for the best possible Christmas and new year."
Ayden knows how important the festive parties on the wards can be in raising a smile at a difficult time for patients.
When he was born, Ayden had major surgery and spent the rest of the year at Yorkhill Hospital.
He has since had several operations and regularly visits Yorkhill for treatment and physiotherapy.
This year, Ayden hopes to spend Christmas at home with his family, but he hasn't forgotten the help he received from the team at Yorkhill.
In fact, he has been keeping himself busy by making and selling his own Christmas decorations and bookmarks for the charity.
He said: "Christmas is my favourite time of year as I get to make Christmas decorations for all the doctors and nurses at the hospital and I get to meet Santa."
His mum, Tracey Steel, 26, said: "The staff at Yorkhill are so good to Ayden, especially at Christmas.
"He is always welcomed with open arms and always feels comfortable.
"He gets lots of gifts and he has met lots of famous people including the Celtic and Rangers players, but it is also upsetting as you're not at home in your usual environment at Christmas."
To donate to Yorkhill Children's Foundation's Christmas Appeal please visit www.yorkhill.org/christmas or text CHRISTMAS to 70707.
Yorkhill Children's Foundation supports excellence in paediatric treatment and funds innovative medical equipment and groundbreaking paediatric research and training as well as improvements in child and family facilities.
They also fund patient and family support, entertainment and fun activities for children and other projects and service enhancements invaluable to the treatment, care, physical and mental wellbeing of sick children and babies, and their families, from throughout Scotland and beyond.
Yorkhill Children's Foundation was established in 2001 and is the only charity that supports the whole of Yorkhill Hospital as well as related paediatric and obstetric services and facilities throughout NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.