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Friday, August 16, 2013

Awesome Things to Bring to Someone in the Hospital

Recently, I was in the hospital for four nights, quite unexpectedly.  I'm fine now, thank you, but it was quite an ordeal at the time, especially because we were trying to get everything together for us and for Cricket, who stayed with wonderful family members while I was away.

We had several friends and family who helped us during those days, and they brought us wonderful supplies that really truly helped us get through that time.  Just having someone bring a bag of goodies to open is itself a big mood-lifter when your life becomes so routine and predictable on a hospital schedule.

This post is a collaboration between me and all the people who brought me awesome stuff.  I especially got tons of ideas from my friend Michelle Glenn, who literally came up with most of the stuff in this list.  She's awesome.

Fresh Fruit

Hospital food is gross.  Everyone knows this.  It's like the food from your middle school cafeteria, if it were put on a tray and driven around a building full of people with contagious diseases for an hour.  It's gross.

One of the things I noticed most was the lack of fresh food available.  A fruit basket or even just a container of fresh cut fruit from Publix is a welcome change from the cube steak and gravy that they serve at every other meal.  Of course, if someone is in the hospital, they might be on dietary restrictions, so check that out first, but it would at least be a welcome gift for family members staying with them.


Small things like ChapStick and lotion can mean a world of difference when you have tubes in your arm and a nurse waking you up every two hours to check your blood pressure.  Facial cleansing cloths would also be awesome for a girl.  Guys probably wouldn't care.  Also check to see if they need baby wipes and dry shampoo if they can't take a shower,  or toothbrushes, etc.

Comfort Items

Try adding earplugs, an eye mask, and warm fuzzy socks to make sleeping in a hospital much more bearable.  House shoes are great too, because no one ever wants to walk barefoot in a room where someone probably died.  Snuggies are a great way to stay comfy and warm while still having access to IV's.  If they're allowed to wear real clothes and not just the half-yard of fabric and twine that they call a "gown," an extra large t-shirt is comfortable and makes you feel more like a human being.


If you know what kind of books they like, you can't go wrong.  One important thing to remember about bringing people things in the hospital is that usually the recovery doesn't end when they go home.  They will probably not be back to 100% for a while, so a book will come in handy, if not at the hospital, then down the road.  It's not like they go bad.


Entertainment is hard to come by in hospitals.  Usually, once you feel good enough to be aware of your surroundings, you start to realize how crappy it is to be cooped up in a tiny room with nothing but basic cable to entertain you.  Magazines and crossword/sudoku/puzzle books are awesome.  Cards, Bananagrams, or other simple games work, too.  Make sure to bring pencils, if needed!

Coloring Books and Crayons

Again, probably most guys, and maybe most girls, wouldn't like this, but I think that coloring books are a great anti-stress activity.  It's mindless enough that you don't really have to concentrate to do it, but you get to use pretty colors and you have something you can show off when you finish.  I colored like, five pages in one day when I was there.

Food for Significant Others

This is a huge one.  Hospitals have to provide food for the patient, but not for anyone else.  That means spouses, parents, or whoever is staying with them has to fend for themselves, either by leaving the hospital, which they probably don't want to do for fear of leaving their loved one, or by eating at the hospital cafeteria which is, as I mentioned above, gross and also ridiculously expensive.  Home-cooked meals are of course awesome, but even just getting fast food or takeout is a blessing for someone who needs to keep their focus on the patient.  Also, things like muffins, drinks, trail mix, and other snacks that can be eaten any time of day are a great idea.

Snacks for the Patient

Again, you have to check what kind of dietary restrictions they are on, but if they are on a regular diet, bring on the snacks!  Cupcakes make everyone happy, and salty snacks like crackers or pretzels are a good balance to that.  Peanut butter crackers and granola bars are great because they can substitute for a meal in a pinch or a snack when you need it.  (Check about allergies.)  Also, the only drinks they serve, at least at my hospital, are Coke, Sprite, and Diet Coke, so Gatorade, Dr. Pepper, Lemonade or whatever else you think they like would probably be welcome.


I know cut flowers are everyone's first thought, and they are awesome, especially to brighten up a dreary day, but one of my friends brought me a small potted plant with some cool purple flowers, and I loved it.  I didn't have to clean it up when it died, or figure out how to transport a vase full of water home.  My potted plant sat in the floorboard, and now it has a lovely home in my kitchen.

Gift Cards

I had several friends give us gift cards, and it was so awesome.  For one, being in the hospital is expensive, and since the spouse has to eat out at every meal, gift cards are a welcome relief.  Plus, remember that even after they go home, they will still probably not feel like cooking right away.  I even had one friend email a gift card for pizza from across the country!  How sweet is that?!  Another friend asked if I wanted a gift card for my Kindle or iTunes, which I thought was a great idea.   A new book or some new music is guaranteed to cheer anyone up!

Portable Electronics

One of my saving graces in the hospital was having my e-reader that could access the Internet, so I could still feel connected to my friends and family.  After a day or so, I borrowed an iPad, and that was even better, because I could also Skype with Cricket, whom I was missing so dearly, and watch Netflix when I gave up yet again trying to find something to watch on television.  If you know your friend doesn't have a laptop or iPad, that would be an awesome thing to let them borrow while they're there.  An iPod with music is cool, too.  Even just a portable DVD player and some DVD's would be much appreciated.

I hope that you never need this list and that all of your loved ones stay happy and healthy, but if you do need to make a goody bag for someone, I hope this helps you think of some unusual and helpful things to give them.


  1. Great list, these are really useful ideas. Thanks.

  2. Coloring books! What a brilliant idea.

  3. Terrific list, and I'm very glad you're doing okay now :)

  4. Great list! Although the hospital food I've had wasn't nearly as bad as what you got, apparently. :) But the snacks they had available got old really fast, so I always try to bring snacks to friends in the hospital now. I would also add, and this is implied in your article, bring yourself if they're up for gets really lonely with no-one but nurses to talk to all day!

  5. I make a pack for friends that have family/loved ones undergoing surgury or in ICU with limited visiting hours. I put a puzzel (set up in the waithing room for the times you are stuck out there and let others help), a small fleece blanket (always cold in hospitals). small pillow (just incase you get to lay down somewhere). I always add gum, toothbrush and toothpaste (small) and a wash cloth in a baggy. Magazines are great if you know their intrests. Of course power bars and protein bars are great.