Whether you’re going to see new parents, convalescing patients, or kids having surgery, putting together a hospital basket is a sure way to show your love and support.
There are no rules to what you put in them. Just try to bring them things they need and can use, or something that will brighten their day.
Here are a few things to consider upfront:
- Make sure you’re aware of any dietary restrictions when bringing your loved one a home-cooked dinner or some snacks.
- With slippers and socks, sizing might be a question. Slippers minus the heel to allow for some give or take. Socks come in a size range, so take your best guess.
- Call a family member ahead of time to find out what the patient might need if you're a friend who is visiting the patient.
- Buy hypoallergenic and scent-free items, not just for the patient, but in case there’s a mix-up with whoever is sharing their room.
One last thing. It’s important to never go to a hospital when you are ill, especially if you are visiting someone with a compromised immune system. Just give them a ring through the hospital operator and send them your love over the phone instead. They’ll understand!
Here are some ideas for care packages based on different kinds of patients.
1. For Someone in Chemotherapy
It’s cold in the doctor’s office, even when you’re not sick. For chemotherapy patients, it’s especially cold. Not only that, they are dealing with dry mouth, dehydration, and a huge sense of boredom.
So, the best gifts for chemotherapy patients include a scarf and hat, warm socks and a blanket, hard candy, ice water, and a gift card for music on their phone. Include a phone charger if you know their manufacturer.
2. For New Moms
She’s not getting a lot of sleep, and once she gets home, she’s going to get even less. Taking a page out of the wellness retreat or spa package, that new mama might appreciate a pretty robe, cozy slippers or flip flops, and a soft hairbrush or hair pick.
Don’t forget to check the labels on hypoallergenic dry shampoo, body wash, lip balm, night cream, or rose water facial spray. She’s probably got more than her fair share of necessities, so a gift of luxuries goes a long way.
3. For a New Baby
Likely the new parents have decided on a theme, so that makes this both a fun and easy basket to put together. You can find onesies, bottles, plush toys, and blankets very easily in just about any theme considered.
If the theme is giraffes, add some yellow burp cloths. If the theme is nature, include some green feeding bibs. If the new mom and dad have chosen to be gender-neutral or just keep it all a secret, then any color in the crayon box will be just fine.
4. For a New Dads
Lucky new papas will appreciate some comfort as well! So, along with a few tips from the new mama list, you could also include coconut water, energy drinks, snack bars, dried fruit, and pretzels. He’s probably going to share his goodie basket, so make the things as neutral as possible.
Besides food and beverage, some awesome partner-to-the-rescue things could include a back scratcher, hair ties, first aid kit, medicated foot lotion, and some coconut oil.
5. For a Baby in the NICU
While the typical card to get a new mom offers congratulations, an inspirational card would be more appropriate in this situation. Additionally, include a journal, pen, lip balm, hand sanitizer, energy bars, or almonds.
Another thing to consider is the extra help they’ll need at home while they are visiting the new one at the hospital. You could hand-make some coupons for dog walking, babysitting older children, yard work, or other errands.
6. For a Convalescing Mom
If your mom is going to be convalescing for a while, you may want to include crossword and sudoku puzzles, magazines, a journal with devotional prompts, a favorite book, a prepaid phone card or phone, slippers, and comfortable clothing.
The most important thing is something you can’t put in a basket—your time. Having your loved ones around you is very important when you are convalescing, so make sure to visit as often as possible. And don’t forget, moms love flowers and cards, too.
7. For a Convalescing Dad
Convalescing is a lot of hurry up and wait. If you download dad’s favorite podcasts and include his favorite books and some joke books, hopefully, the time will go by a little bit more quickly.
If he’s in physical therapy, include some peppermint lotion to help cool those sore muscles. If your dad doesn’t have a prepaid phone card or phone, make sure you pick one up so the whole family can call and keep him company.
8. For Your Wife
Once you accomplish the card and flowers, pick a theme. For example, you could choose your wife’s favorite scent, like gardenia or lavender, and create a basket around both the color and the scent.
You’ll want to include cruelty-free, hypoallergenic hand and body lotion and shampoo to match the smell. Then find additional items like a face or eye mask and a notepad and pen to match the color. The basket will be pretty and also show a lot of thought on your part.
9. For a Child
Kids are champs at hospital stays, but they still need something to help them with the boredom. Start with a cheery color, like yellow or purple!
Then find all of the snacks and juices you think they’ll love in that color. Include coloring books, crayons, and small assembly toys to keep them busy. Don’t forget the balloons or a teddy bear to keep them company at night.
10. For Your Husband
Food and entertainment are the keys. Bring in his favorite meal—and hot. Supply him with more than enough snacks and his iPad if he has one. Make sure he has plenty of movies to watch. You can sign up for a temporary streaming account if you don’t already have one. He’s probably anti-hospital gown, so a comfortable pair of jammies and some socks will make amazing additions to his stay.
11. For Your Teenager
Solving the boredom issue with teenagers is no less tricky than with smaller kids. Consider games or toys that make them think a little more like a 3D puzzle or some puzzle magazines. Include a roll of quarters for the vending machine and some of their favorite organic snacks to combat the overindulgence of sugar or salt.
12. For a Best Friend
The hospital can be a pretty miserable place: nothing ever on TV, no good snacks, and there’s the feeling that even though you’re in a hospital—you’ve never felt less clean.
Why not bring your friend a basket that covers all the bases? Choose a few items from the list: toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, and deodorant; magazines with lots of beauty advice and advertisements, hand lotion, lip balm, a brush or comb, facial cleansing cloths, snack-sized pretzels, dried fruit, and protein bars.
13. For Someone Struggling with Depression
It’s always important in these situations to check ahead with the hospital to see what the doctor recommends. But you can’t go wrong with cards, letters of encouragement, relaxation or stress-relief teas, a stack of magazines or a favorite book, as well as some basic toiletries.
If you’re going with hand or body lotion, find a suitable smell—if they’re allowed. Eucalyptus is great for wake-up energy, lavender is key for relaxation, and citrus works for focus and concentration.
14. For Someone with Breast Cancer
Gift baskets for cancer patients usually start with the color pink. But don't feel pressured to buy something pink for your loved one. Where you go from there is up to you! Include all of the things that will make them feel special.
Warm socks, a soft blanket, a comfy robe, and new cotton jammies will make them feel comfortable in bed. Sweet-smelling lotion, lip balm, and facial products will add some indulgence. Finally, some healthy snacks will show how much you love them, so don’t skimp on the nuts and fruits.
You can read our guide on gift for cancer patients for more ideas.
15. For Anyone Having Surgery
Think warm, comfortable, and anything to shoo away the dread of a hospital stay to start your thoughts on this gift basket. If your loved one is not a socks-in-bed kind of person, there are a number of great warm slipper options available.
16. For a Whole Family with a Loved One in the Hospital
Food is the best way to support an entire family when they’re going through a challenging time. Choose from ready and prepared food or good, wholesome food that you can make with little time and effort.
- Gourmet Pasta Baskets. Bring the comfort of steaming hot pasta and sauce to a whole family, complete with an enamel colander, sauce whisk, artisan pasta, gourmet red sauce, hazelnut biscotti, Italian breadsticks, olive oil, and more.
- Vegan Butcher Box. This box is a great gift to give any family who prefers to eat a plant-based diet. Choose from smoky house, Huli Huli, or Korean BBQ ribs, hickory or maple glazed bacon, gluten-free meatloaf, shredded chicken, and about a dozen cheeses including dill Havarti. All foods are 100% vegan and shipped fresh to their door.
Besides these, look for gourmet cookies, coated pretzels, and dried fruit that you can send when just about any food will hit the right spot and when planning meals is too much to manage.
17. For a Caregiver
Being a caregiver 24/7 often means many important things get overlooked. Personal time, self-care, and even household chores usually take second place. Even the luxury of a hot homemade meal can be absent from daily experiences.
So, put together a care package for that exceptional caregiver, but don’t forget to include some of the day-to-day needs or luxuries often lost in the daily mix. Here are some ideas:
- Time off can be such an extravagance for anyone who spends their day caring for a loved one. But, more than just some time off, opportunities for self-care are essential as well.
- Pajamas, cozy socks, and great-smelling bath items work well for a gift basket. Just take note of their favorite scents and if there are any allergies to consider.
- Money can be tight for full-time caregivers, especially those who’ve moved back home to care for aging parents. So, a few extra dollars can go a long way.
- Hot meals may seem commonplace to you and me, but they can be indulgent for anyone managing the double duty of caregiver and parent.
- Offering some home support can relieve anxiety and help people de-stress. But, of course, even if you’re not cleaning that oven or mowing the lawn, you could always hire someone.
Pro-tip: Homemade coupons work for gifts that can’t be purchased.
18. For Someone in the Hospital During COVID-19
Unfortunately, hospital stays during COVID-19 are even lonelier than before. Lockdowns and protocols keep both family and visitors away. That, and things like food, flowers, and cards may not be permitted.
Even so, you can stay connected and engaged. Here’s how:
- Digital scrapbooking is a paper-free alternative to cutouts, photos, glue, and paper. Sign up for a site with any loved one and begin sharing memories.
- Having visitors might not be an option right now, but you can stay in contact via your phone or laptop. But how do you make this into a gift? Schedule video chats via an online planner!
- In addition to Facetime and Zoom, digital journals can help people feel connected to the goings-on of daily life outside of the hospital. Friends and family members alike can log on to write and share.
Pro-tip: While there’s no such thing as a digital gift basket just yet, an email with links to the digital gifts will do the trick.
19. For a Teenager in the Hospital
Being hospitalized is no fun, especially when they’d rather hang out with their friends and doing usual teenager stuff. So, what’s going to perk up your teenager? Movie nights!
Most people have access to an online movie service, so that part is covered. All you need to put together is the edible stuff that goes along with movie watching, like:
- Popcorn or pretzels
- Classic candies
- Sugary energy drinks
- Cocoa mix
A plain old basket might be a little too dull for this idea, so get out your construction paper and some white markers. Adhere black paper to the box and then write “action,” or draw “admit one” tickets, movie reels, or even a scene board on the box. Get creative!
Pro-tip: It is a hospital, and the staff may frown on all of the sugary and salty foods, so try to include a few healthy ones on top.
20. Hospital Care Package Ideas You Can Get Delivered
There’s probably a gift basket that has precisely or almost exactly what you’re looking for.
- Savory and salty for that personality with two sides. Choose a gift basket that will suit any craving, from nuts, chips, popcorn, trail mix to dark sodas and candy bars.
- Look for non-food boxes to kick the boredom. When food isn’t the right choice, try coloring books, pens, and pencils, along with crossword puzzle books and playing cards.
- When life gives you lemons, opt for self-care with a color theme that won’t make you frown. Included is a lemon face mask, lemon tea, lemon lip balm, lemon make-up bags, lemon cards, and more.
- Valentine’s Day is every day. Complete with a teddy bear, moisturizing hand cream, lollipops, eye pads, and more is a pink and red package that says, “You are loved!”
Little Baskets of Sunshine for Loved Ones
If nothing else, showing your love when others need it most is the most important gift that you’ll give anyone. Just make sure you bring your smile and a warm heart to their bedside.