60 Gifts for Someone in the Hospital

Gifts can help lift spirits and relieve the boredom of someone in the hospital, but it's important to bring something that is appropriate that neither gets in the way nor interferes with your loved one's recovery. Some of the more common gifts like flowers and food are not allowed in every part of the hospital. This can make it challenging to choose the right gift.

Here are 60 gift ideas for a family member or friend who has been hospitalized.

Young girl holding a card in a hospital bed - stock photo

Wavebreak Media / Getty Images

Personal Care Items

Instead of arriving with something you've picked up at the hospital gift shop (which others may have already bought), call your friend or their partner and ask if there is anything they need.

Often, people forget to bring certain personal care items with them or assume the hospital will have everything they need. A gift like this may not only be appreciated but also help overcome physical limitations your loved one may have after surgery or medical treatment.

Personal care items that may be appreciated include:

  • Dry shampoo
  • Skin moisturizer
  • Quality toilet paper
  • Quality tissues
  • Emery boards
  • Disposable dental flossers


There is only so much TV a person can watch while in the hospital. Finding the right book can help fill time and even help a person fall asleep.

These include:

  • Hardcover or softcover books
  • E-book gift vouchers
  • Audiobook subscriptions

Ask your loved one what type of book they like and browse a nearby bookstore. Or, purchase a gift certificate to let them to choose the e-book or audiobook titles that interest them most.


Wearing a hospital gown, robe, and slippers can feel uncomfortable and dehumanizing after several days. A great way to brighten a hospital stay—and make your loved one feel more like themselves—is with a gift of comfortable but practical clothes.

Before buying anything, remember that there may be intravenous (IV) drips, surgical drains, or electrocardiogram (ECG) cables that limit what your loved one can wear. At the same time, they need something that is washable and won't be ruined by bleeding or spills.

Clothing items that are great for hospital gifts include:

  • Comfortable socks
  • Slipper socks
  • Non-skid slippers
  • A comfy shoulder wrap
  • A high-quality robe
  • Pajamas
  • High-quality recovery robe (specialty designed to provide access to IV drips and cables)
  • A stylish beanie (to keep their head warm)
  • A headband or hairbands

Puzzles and Games

The right puzzles and games can brighten spirits if chosen correctly based on your loved one's age and interests. Unless your loved one enjoys crossword puzzles or Sudoku, bringing them a generic puzzle book may accentuate the tedium rather than relieve it.

To this end, find something new or novel that would spark their interest whether in the hospital or not.

Great puzzles and games for the hospital include:

  • Activity books with multiple games and puzzles
  • Trivia games
  • Color books (including adult coloring books)
  • Three-dimensional puzzles
  • Personalized puzzles using family photos
  • Magnetic travel-size games
  • Playing cards for solitaire or card games with others
  • Hobby kits, like origami or calligraphy kits

If they have a special interest, like backgammon or chess, the best gift may be to bring a board game and play with them.


Your loved one may or may not be allowed to eat and drink whatever they want while in the hospital. Before bringing their favorite snack it is best to confirm that there are no restrictions.

Don't assume that your loved one will want to indulge in a lavish treat. Choose foods that don't need to be eaten immediately and can either be stored away or brought home after discharge. Ideally, the food should not require refrigeration and shouldn't be crumbly or easily spilled.

Nice food gifts for the hospital include:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Crackers
  • Nut butter packets
  • Single-serve Nutella cups
  • Pita chips with hummus
  • Olives
  • Favorite candies

A person's appetite often changes during an illness, so you may want to ask in advance what they want before bringing a gift basket.


Many people bring laptops or tablets to the hospital to play games, stream movies, and listen to audiobooks.

If your loved one is a techie, there are certain gifts that may make their hospital stay more pleasant, including:

  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Extra-long phone chargers
  • Blue light computer glasses (to reduce eye strain)
  • Bone-conduction headphones (which may place less stress on the ears)
  • A white noise machine (with Bluetooth-connected earbuds)
  • A gift voucher for a video game

Comfort Items

Sometimes all a person in a hospital wants or needs is to be pampered. This doesn't mean bringing incense or scented candles that can bother other patients or trying to turn a hospital into a spa experience.

There are other small indulgences your loved one might appreciate just as much, including:

  • Sleep masks
  • Aromatherapy hand cream
  • Supportive pillows
  • High-quality earplugs
  • Foot cream
  • Lip balm
  • A fuzzy blanket

Helping Out

Some of the best gifts you can give are things you cannot buy. After all, a hospitalization can cause stress and upset a person's life. By pitching in and offering to pick up the slack, you can relieve some of your loved one's stress and allow them time to heal without distractions.

You can help a hospitalized friend (and their family) by:

  • Picking up the mail every day
  • Pet-sitting or walking the dog
  • Taking the kids to and from school
  • Watering the plants
  • Helping with housecleaning
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Grocery shopping
  • Preparing meals for the family
  • Preparing meals in advance of your loved one's return


Arguably, the greatest gift may be providing quality time to your loved one while they are in the hospital. If they are feeling distressed or anxious, simply sitting with them—not rushing in and out—shows that you care. It can also signal your willingness to listen if they want to share what they are feeling.

By being present, and leaning in to provide comfort and support when needed, you can be part of the healing process for a loved one in the hospital.


A thoughtful gift can help relieve boredom or cheer up someone who is in the hospital. When choosing a gift, it's important to be aware of what your loved one might need or want as well as what is permitted under hospital rules.

Personal care items, books, comfortable clothing, tech, and puzzles and games are some of the many things your loved one might appreciate. Check with the hospital before bringing food, since there may be restrictions on what the person can eat. You can also consider bringing comfort items like soft pillows or simply offering to help out while your loved one is in the hospital.

By Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN
Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine.