9 Gift Ideas That Are Perfect for Someone in the Hospital

gifts wrapped in paper

If your friend or family member is in the hospital, it’s natural to want to bring them something when you visit. However, how do you know what gift will be appropriate and appreciated?

To help you out, here are some hospital gift ideas (that aren’t flowers!) that are perfect for older adults.

What to Bring Someone in the Hospital After Surgery

Books and magazines

Boredom often runs rampant when a patient is stuck in bed. Bring your loved one a new book or the latest issue of their favorite magazine to help them pass the time.

Also, don’t forget about digital formats. If the person has a smartphone or tablet, get them a subscription to an online audiobook service like Audible, or help them download an eBook app if their library offers one. Podcasts are also a great idea—there are tons of options out there to suit everyone’s interests.

Food and Drink

Normally candy or a bottle of your friend’s drink of choice is a quick, easy and appreciated gift idea. However, you’ll likely want to steer clear of food and drink for someone in the hospital. They may be on a special diet that prohibits them from eating their favorite food or drinking their favorite beverage.

If they aren’t on a special diet, food and drink is always an option. During the holidays, consider bringing a seasonal treat or an old family recipe that brings back warm memories.

Games and Puzzles

Along those same lines, bring crossword puzzles or a deck of cards. You won’t want to bring anything that takes up too much space, such as a large board game, but there are plenty of compact options out there that would make great hospital gifts.


There’s nothing wrong with this classic. It doesn’t take up much space but still conveys your warm wishes. Besides, keep in mind that most people simply appreciate the gift of your time when you visit them in the hospital. A card is a nice keepsake if you don’t want to come empty-handed, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to come with the perfect gift.

Personal Care Items

Your loved one likely has the necessities already, either from the hospital or from home, but sometimes the little things get forgotten. Bring them some calming lotion or soothing lip balm. Even if they already have some, it’s always nice to enjoy a new scent.

You could also bring them some items to add to their comfort, such as a nice blanket or pillow. Fuzzy, warm socks are also a good gift—just be sure they have grips on the bottom.

Reusable Shopping Bags

You know how you pack for a vacation and leave space in your suitcase for gifts and souvenirs? People don’t usually think to do that for hospital stays—especially when the stay is unexpected. A very practical and useful gift is a reusable shopping bag or two for them to tote their other gifts home in.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving, as people who have had a long stay often need post-hospital rehabilitation. As they go back and forth for treatment, the bags will come in handy again.

Organizational Supplies

In the coming days and weeks, your loved one is going to be receiving a mountain of important paperwork, both from the hospital and any follow-up care during their recovery. Give them or their caregiver an easy way to organize everything by bringing a binder or expanding file.

Creative Hospital Gift Ideas

Looking for something that’s a bit more unique? Try these creative gift ideas.

Make a Comfort Box with Your Loved One

The experts at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recommend “comfort boxes” to help anyone feeling stressed out or anxious.

What’s a comfort box?

“It’s an emotional first aid kit,” licensed psychiatric social worker Marybeth McDonald writes. “The idea is to fill the comfort box with things that you can use when you’re struggling that will help you feel and stay safe.”

If your loved one is struggling with the emotional aftermath of their surgery or hospital stay, a comfort box could help. On your next visit, you could bring an empty shoebox and supplies to decorate it together, then discuss what they would like to put in it. Some ideas include family pictures, favorite quotes, playlists and chocolate.

You can read more about how to create a comfort box on the Wexner medical center blog.

Post-Hospital Care Package

Sometimes the best gift for someone in the hospital is the one that comes after they’ve gone home or to a rehabilitation center. Make a post-hospital care package for your friend or family member and drop it off when they’ve arrived.

Include common, everyday things to save them or their caregiver a trip to the store when they get home. It’s also a good idea to include germ-killing hygiene items for visitors to use. Some ideas include:

  • Visitor-friendly snacks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Freezer bags
  • Trash bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Tissues