CaringBridge Staff | 12.15.21
When a friend or family member is in the hospital, you want to do anything you can to help out and show support. While flowers make a lovely sentiment, it’s sometimes the more functional gifts that can make the biggest difference.
Gifting a care package of useful or thoughtful items is an excellent way to show support to a loved one during a hospital stay. We share ideas for what to include in your gift bag:
When you’re missing the comfort of home, putting on your softest clothes can bring a bit of that comfort back.
Gift your friend or family member a set of fleece sweatpants, a soft-knit sweater or a ridiculously fuzzy pair of socks. The feeling of being warm and cozy is a simple joy everyone should have, whether at home or in the hospital.
Personal Care Items
Stock your package with practical items, because they’re more needed than you’d think. Common products to give can include:
- Feminine hygiene products
- Good toilet paper
- Hair products
While seemingly not the most “glamorous” gifts, these can make a world of difference. Note: For items like this, consider calling your loved one or a family member to see if there’s anything specific they could use. For more useful tips, check out 13 Helpful Things to Bring Someone in the Hospital.
A common symptom of long hospital stays is parched skin due to the dry hospital air. CaringBridge community member Carol A. notes, “Lotion and Chapstick are the most used when we’ve gotten them.”
Consider gifting a lightly scented (or unscented) lotion and lip balm to keep their skin feeling smooth and healthy.
Staying hydrated becomes easier when a drink of water is just an arm’s reach away. Water bottles make a practical gift that your loved one can continue to use once they leave the hospital.
Items for Sleep
Some patients experience challenges falling or staying asleep while at the hospital. The lighting may be too bright, their roommate too noisy or they may be on medications that interfere with sleep.
Help your loved one get those much-needed ZZZ’s by stocking your care package with earplugs, an eye mask, and cozy pajamas. You can also see if you can bring their pillows or blankets from home to give them something familiar. Sometimes a piece of home is just what they need.
Charging Cables + Power Strips
Staying in a hospital bed for long periods means your loved one will likely be spending a fair chunk of time using technology. Bring them items like an extra-long charging cable, portable charger, or power strip so all of their tech can stay charged and within reach.
A Handwritten Card
There’s just something about receiving a card that’s been written by hand. It’s thoughtful, and it makes a great keepsake to look back on when you need a pick-me-up.
You can choose a card that’s humorous, religious or sincere depending on what your loved one would like. And if you’re not sure what to write in the card, try one of these quotes about hope and healing to spark some inspiration.
On the flip side, you can also gift empty cards so that your loved one can write to friends and family. “I gave my sister Christmas cards she can send to loved ones or keep to remind her of Christmas.” suggests Caroline B. Part of the gift could be suggesting you become pen pals. That can be a fun and unique way to stay in touch.
For more ideas on how to show your loved one you care, read the CaringBridge guide on the 8 Best Ways to Support a Friend in the Hospital.
Books & Magazines
Provide your loved one with some entertainment during treatment or long hospital stays. Choose a Sudoku book for puzzle-lovers or a mystery for fiction fans. If you’re unsure what to get, ask a loved one of theirs what they like.
Another idea is to offer gift cards to audiobooks or an e-reader platform so they can get their stories in whatever way they choose.
Hospital food can get old real quick. Consider packing your gift basket full of healthy snacks your loved one enjoys. Nonperishables like granola bars, nuts, and fruit snacks would work best in a hospital setting. When gifting food, just make sure to check with your loved one or a family member to see what kind of foods are OK to bring.
What Gifts Have You Given/Received During a Hospital Stay?
Finally, one gift that can’t be wrapped is the simple act of showing up. Hospital visits can feel long, and sometimes lonely. Keeping your loved one company—whether in person or with a phone call—can ease that feeling and give them something to look forward to.
If you or someone you know has experienced a lengthy hospital stay, what were the most helpful gifts you’ve given or received? Please share your ideas and stories in the comments below.
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