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Hospital Gift Ideas

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Deciding on just the right gift for someone in the hospital can be a challenge. This is a guide about hospital gift ideas.


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August 16, 2012

We have had several family members in the hospital lately and I have learned a few things that are good to have on hand for visitors or if a person stays with the patient. Now, when I hear of someone in the hospital, I deliver a "goodie basket" to their room. The contents of the basket are often found more useful to family, especially if it is a serious situation where family is camped out at the hospital.


Many of the items can be found at the dollar store. Items in my basket sometimes are adjusted if I know of diet restrictions or younger children, but basically contain the following:

  1. boxes of granola or breakfast bars

  2. apples, oranges or bananas (3-4 of each or more if a large family)

  3. crossword puzzle book

  4. notebook and pen

  5. pre-made individually wrapped snacks

  6. couple of magazines or newspapers

  7. juiceboxes

  8. board game (checker, etc. can be found at the dollar store)

By April from MO

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August 28, 20120 found this helpful

Great idea!

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December 3, 2014

If you are visiting someone in hospital, freeze a litre bottle of water (mineral, filtered or plain old tap water according to taste) the night before, and take it in. Freezing may distort the shape of the base slightly, so consider taking in a jug or plant pot in which to stand the bottle, if it will not stand up without support. The water will thaw very gradually, and will provide a refreshingly cold drink over quite a long period of time. Provided that the patient is not nil by mouth, this is so much better than the tepid water jugs provided by the ward!

Source: A shop at Victoria Coach Station (London) had frozen bottles of water on sale to drink on long coach journeys

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July 12, 20000 found this helpful

Flowers are always welcomed, but sometimes you may have a person in the hospital with no relatives close by. A telephone calling card will be appreciated, since hospitals and rehabilitation centers will charge long distance calls to your hospital bill.

While you can call them, sometimes they want to call you with updated information, etc. This came in handy for my mom who was having elective surgery in another state.

Note: This is assuming the patient is not too ill and they can use the telephone.

By Ms. Syd from Dunkirk, MD

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February 11, 20070 found this helpful

I had a triple bypass in 2003 and my family gave me a heart cushion. I could cushion my chest when I had to cough or move around, plus all my family could sign it with well-wishing comments! I still have it and will always treasure the love of my family.

Inquiries. bowersroger AT

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

July 1, 20040 found this helpful

I need ideas for a patient who is 21 and had a head trauma case and is now in rehab and needs things to make his stay better


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July 2, 20040 found this helpful

What were this person's interests before the trauma? Magazines and / or books of any of these interests. Cd, commercial or custom made. Lots of visits, letters and cards from everyone. Get all his/her friends to send cards-even postcards on a rewgular basis. Maybe Friend A every Mon., Friend B every Tues, etc for as long as necessar4y. When your friend is up to it and back home, include him in activities, even tho it might be inconvenient to you. How about a meal from a fav restaurant or fast food place, if appropriate. ? If in a hospital, personalized toiletries are so muuch nicer than hospital issue.

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July 3, 20040 found this helpful

My sister-in-law suffered a head trauma injury many years ago. Depending on which side of the brain is injured (and how badly) will depend on what they are able to do. Many with head injuries have to be re-taught everything all over again and even now, many years later, my sister-in-law cannot keep focussed long enough to do a puzzle, read a book, etc. It is very hard to understand, especially when it appears on the outside that they are "normal".

The recent movie that just came out on DVD with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore called "50 First Dates" gives some humor to a head injury patient and some insight to how things can be for some of them. The movie went to some extreme, but not far from the truth.

Many head injury patients deal with circulation problems. They are cold a lot and like sweaters, blankets, socks, etc. Depending on the severity of the injury he may deal with aggression and anger and depression as well. If he has any paralization and is in the hospital bed for any length of time, he may like things like lotion (the deep moisturizing kind) and chapstick for dry lips. Or if he has a CD player in his room, he may enjoy nice relaxing music. Depending on how close you are to this person, more than likely they aren't able to shave any more. The head injury can affect motor skills and they tend to be shaky and unable to shave safely. An electric shaver may be ideal for him too.

Some head injury patients come out as if nothing is wrong. They can live almost normal lives, except for memory loss. Like I said, just depending on the severity and which part of the brain was damaged will determine what you are looking at.

My heart goes out to you and the family of your friends. It is a long rough road ahead. But if anyone can be a testament to miracles, my sister-in-law was in a coma for six months and came out of it. The family was told she would be a vegetable and would never walk or talk again. She has since re-learned everything (up to the day of her accident, so mentally she is still 17) and at one time came very close to regaining her driver's license, she had her own apt., her own bank account, and was working on her GED. So please, please, please tell your friends family not to take to heart everything they are told as to what he will ever be able to do or not do again! With head injury, you never know!

She had several traumatic things happen to her that caused her to go in "reverse" and she never did accomplish her GED or driver's license and goes through times of struggling with memory more than others, but she is alive and well and that is what matters to us! Good luck!

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July 3, 20040 found this helpful

I was replying to say that we have two people close to us with head injury. My brothers father-in-law fell from a ladder while building a house and now is permanently brain damaged and then my sister-in-law my husbands sister) had also had a head injury when she was 17. Mentally, she is pretty much still 17. She was in a coma for 6 months and then came out of it like a vegetable. The family had been told that she would never walk or talk again and against every Dr.'s opinions, she has relearned everything. Her long-term memory is the same. She can remember her past up to the day of her accident. It is her short term memory that is affected.

You will find that with head injury so many things are determined by the severity of the injury and the location of which part of the brain had been injured. Some head injury appear as though nothing is wrong, but have memory problems. Others are more severe.

Many head injury patients have trouble with circulation. Even after all of these years, my sister-in-law has trouble with circulation. They are cold a lot and like to wear socks, sweaters and cuddle in blankets. If he is in rehab, he may like things like moisturizing lotion and chapstick. Depending on how close you are to this person, they may not be able to safely shave with a razor and may have to use an electric razor. If he has a CD player in his room he may like calm relaxing music to go to sleep with at night. Some head injury go through angry and depressed times and it is hard for them to grasp. Depending on his motor skills, he may need things like a bath mit to slide onto his hands verses a wash rag that may be hard for him to hold on to and grip, or a bath brush or scrubby on a stick verses one you have to hold. For some reason holding the item and making it move don't always connect in the brain, especially so soon after the accident. Head injury also tend to connect with sites, smells, etc of before their accident. You may find out if he had a favorit cologne and he may want to wear that while in the hospital to boost his esteem.

I hope that some of this helps. It is hard to think of getting into their minds and thinking things from their perspective. That new movie (just out on DVD) with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore gives a little insight into this world. It is called, "50 First Dates". They went to a little extremes, but not far from the truth either. At least someone could share some humor in this. WIth head injury, if you can't find humor in it somewhere, you have a very difficult time dealing with it all. My heart goes out to you and your friends family. Good luck!

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July 3, 20040 found this helpful

Hi Tawnda

We now moderate all feedback posted by guests so it may take a little while for your posts to show up. We had some people posting offensive material the last couple weeks so we decided not to chance it. I added a note that will appear after people post so that it's more clear that it is now moderated.

Thanks for posting!


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July 5, 20040 found this helpful

I don't know if this would be appropriate for your friend in the hospital, depending on the extent of their brain injury, but it worked for me. When I was in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant, my younger sister made me a basket full of small presents, about 14, and I got to open one up each day. You would be surprised at how much fun that is in the hospital when you have very little to look forward to. The presents were small, nail polish, clippers, little Bible cards, hair clips, etc. But the idea of a basket full of presents was pretty cool for me. Good Luck and God bless. susan from CT.

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November 22, 20070 found this helpful

My mother had a head injury about 14 years ago where she was in a ooma for 3 months and has the exact same symptoms as Tawnda sister in-law in the post above. I would recommend a nice notebook or planner where a patient can write things down so they it can help with short term memory items. Hope that helps.

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February 28, 20080 found this helpful

Hi! There is a website called that has adorable designer hospital gowns. I bought one for my neice after her back surgery and she loved it. They have 2 styles and they have lots of different prints to choose from. I bought one in a Lilly Pulitzer fabric and it was totally adorable. The link for the hospital gown website is The lady who took my order said that they will be making children's hospital gowns soon.

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0 found this helpful
January 13, 2005

What can you give a friend whose husband is in hospital. He is now paralized from waist down. His wife has stayed by his side for the past few weeks. What kind of gift can I give her to use/enjoy while staying in hospital with him and what can I give him that he may be able to use?


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January 13, 20050 found this helpful

People with paralysis tend to have circulation problems and dry skin. You can buy over-the-counter lotions, etc. for bad circulation in your pharmacy. Usually near the diabetic supplies.

Make a coupon book for your friends and give to them with a plate full of homemade cookies. Give coupons for doing things like dusting, cleaning, etc. at her home (if she is spending a lot of time at the hospital she may not have time to do minor cleaning or laundry, etc.) , making a meal(s) to bring to hospital in place of hospital food (I am sure they are both sick of those. Just make sure that they know you are bringing them a meal so that they do not eat before you arrive) or if you don't cook, you could make a gift bag or basket with fruit, snacks, etc. maybe a six-pack of their favorite soda or bottles of water so they won't have to buy the expensive snacks at the hospital machines.

A good book with short stories in it. If the husband is still on pain meds and is sleeping a lot, he may not be able to listen or read for long periods of time. The Chicken Soup for the Soul books are good. There are plenty of wide varieties of those out now or similar types of books with inspiring stories which may be what they need right now to lift them up. Or maybe a crossword puzzle book they could work on together.

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January 14, 20050 found this helpful

I agree with Lacey!

I was in a really bad car accident, broke both my legs,plus my 4 yr old daughters leg(Femer) got broken by seat belt.Full body cast for 6weeks.

And the NUMBER ONE THING THAT HELPED ME THRU IT WAS MY FRIENDS . Willing to do anything I needed. Stay up with me while my husband went to bed so he could get up and go to work.Help me get to DR appts. Change diapers on my daughter. JUST INSIST!!!!!!!!! Trust me she will refuse , just insist . She will finally agree . I was stubborn. Good luck. Just be there to support!!!

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January 14, 20050 found this helpful

Make a basket gift for the two of them. Put something homemade to eat, small pre packaged snack foods, lotions, magazines they would enjoy on sports, cooking, music or whatever their interests are, and a roll of quarters for the vending machines or phone calls. When I stayed in the hospital with a family member I was always needing change.

You could put some homemade coupons to do errands or other things when they get home in too.

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January 14, 20050 found this helpful

How about music-CD's of favorite artists or if appropriate, inspritational/religious or relaxing music. Target has these great CD's of music and nature sounds. Personal CD player and batteries, if needed. DVD's. Gift certificates for restaurants near the hospital. GC for the wife to get hair done, manicure, massage, etc. Gifts of your time-do chores or errands, laundry, take the wife out for lunch or dinner and LISTEN. If the wife needs help seeking services or equipment once the husband gets home, do the research. If you are handy, or know someone who is, their home will need some accomodations to handle a wheelchair-ramps, widen doorways, etc. Just remember that your frined is till the same guy he was before the accident, just now his legs don't work. He still has the same interests, and need to be with his friends as before.

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January 14, 20050 found this helpful

This just recently happened to a friend of mine also. I went to Starbucks and picked up some different kinds of chocolate. I gave it to her when I saw her at the hospital. It sounds silly, but it really seemed to cheer her.

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January 14, 20050 found this helpful

Hello All!

Try cards, magnetic checkers, yahtzee, or "funny" books to read each other, add a little snack & You have a nice present!

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January 20, 20050 found this helpful

If they have friends and family that are long-distance phone calls, give a pre-paid phone card so they can keep in touch (most hospitals won't let you make long-distance calls). If he's unable to hold books for long, how about books on tape? These don't even have to be purchased -- you can check them out from the public library, let your friend know when they are due back, and YOU pick them up and return them for her. Mow her yard/shovel her walk/ run errands for her. Pre-paid gasoline cards are also a blessing. Do they have pets? Care for the pets, or even take them home with you if that's workable (be the pets' foster parents!) Remember that your friend could probably also use something to do while she's sitting with her husband, who may be sleeping off and on. Suggestions include the usual -- something to read, crossword puzzles -- but what about crafts? Maybe she would find it soothing to do some needlework or knitting. Small cross-stitch kits can be picked up for just a few dollars. She will need your friendship more than ever now and in the future -- just keeping in touch is the best gift you can give!

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0 found this helpful
December 8, 2004

I am taking my children to visit children in the hospital. I would like suggestions of FRUGAL ideas for goodie bags that my children may hand out to those in the hospital. I am on a very tight budget but believe in teaching my children the importance of thinking of others-- this time of year kids often want, want, want! And I want them to realize the needs of others.
Any suggestion would be very welcomed. -Lisa

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December 8, 20040 found this helpful

How about printing out a coloring book page or two(holiday or winter theme) from the internet and making copies at your local copy shop. Add some dollar store crayons and a candy cane and you have gifts on the cheap!

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December 9, 20040 found this helpful

Try checking area thrift stores, some have cheap unused cards for inexpensive. Ine book of stamps could be used to stamp envelopes for handouts. Dollar Stores are great for finding quantity of inexpensive items. Some of the "super stores" have travel-size items that may work as gifts.

Candy or food items would not be a good idea, as some patients may have diet restrictions.

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December 9, 20040 found this helpful

Please don't give hospitalized children food with out checking with staff as to special diets, allergies, etc. How about making cards for the children, or zeroxed mazes, puzzles, work searches, etc. and a fancy pencil. Small toys ( as long as they are not a choke risk) can be ordered from Oriental Trading or KIPP Bros catalogs very cheaply, too.

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December 9, 20040 found this helpful


I was going to mention the dollar stores, too. They have packages of toys which commonly have several items inside, and you could put, say, a plastic dinosaur in a boy's bag, play make-up in a girl's bag, etc. Little pads of paper and pencils or markers could also go inside. That's a great idea. Blessings to your family as you give to others in this way.

Trudy Powell

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December 11, 20040 found this helpful

I save all of the samples that I receive throughout the year, plus small items that I get on sale and take them to the hospital for distribution. Walgreen's, especially, has great $.39 sales often on small toys, coloring books and crayons, etc. You could also do a web search for coloring pages and print them out (check for copyright laws).

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December 12, 20040 found this helpful

You and your children can bake cookies together. Homemade cookies are nearly always a welcome treat.

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December 15, 20040 found this helpful

If you are making bags for adults, I suggest:

a pocket pack of tissues


memo pad


small lotion

deck of cards

I agree that you should NOT include any kind of food without checking first -- it's even worse if you give them something they are not allowed, and then it has to be taken away.

I make up "goodie bags" each year for Santa to distribute at our County Home (called the Poor Farm in less politically-correct times!) and these are popular items. I pick things up all year long on sale and stash them away. My goodie bags also include a new pair of stretch gloves (less than $1 each), which of course hospitalized patients would not need -- plus I include sample sizes of shampoo and soap donated by the local Holiday Inn, and toothbrushes and sample size toothpaste donated by local dentists.

Merry Christmas!

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