30+ Cheap Items to Put in a Care Package for a Sick Loved One

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Curating a thoughtful get well gift or care package doesn’t have to cost a ton of money. Your loved one will likely value the effort and the time put into the care package way more than its contents. That being said, including handwritten notes or joke items will also likely mean the world.  

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Whether your loved one is dealing with a physical or emotional illness, care packages from someone they love can work wonders in their recovery. Being stuck at home or in the hospital can take a toll on just about anyone. Below, we’ve provided ideas for care packages for a sick partner or spouse, a friend, a child, a college student, or the parents of a sick child.

What to Put in a Care Package for a Sick Partner or Spouse

When your partner or spouse is sick, it may be hard to pinpoint what they need. Being there for them is important, but if you’re forced to go to work or fulfill other obligations, creating a care package to entertain them is a great idea.

1. Something handmade

Nothing can show you care quite as much as something you made with your own two hands. It can be cookies or baked goods, a piece of art, or something similar. It likely won’t cost much either. You also shouldn’t worry about how “good” it is — it’s the effort that counts. 

2. Flowers or a plant

Flowers and plants can add much-needed brightness and life to any space. You shouldn’t subscribe to the idea that flowers or plants are just for special occasions. They’ve long been a simple, yet effective way of showing you care.  

3. A new pair of headphones

Sitting and vegging out while listening to music, audiobooks, or movies may become a big part of your loved one’s routine as they heal. Give them an upgraded way of doing so privately or quietly, especially if they have to go elsewhere for treatment. 

4. A yoga mat or resistance bands

If your partner or spouse is sick (but not so sick that they aren’t moving around), helping them incorporate some stretching or light workouts from home could work wonders for mood and recovery. 

5. Skincare or spa items

Skincare and spa items aren’t exclusive to men or women. Everyone deserves the best in self-care — and should practice it often. Being stuck at home is the perfect time to get into a good routine that works for them. 

6. Letters or messages 

It may be hard to know exactly what to say when someone is sick, even when it’s someone you love as much as your partner or spouse. Creating a collection of letters, messages, or funny quotes and inside jokes from between the two of you can provide hours of conversation and entertainment. 

7. A framed picture of the two of you

If you’ve taken a trip recently — or even a while ago — but never printed any photos from it, this would be a great time to do so. It will help your spouse or partner remember a fun time with you and look forward to the next opportunity. 

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What to Put in a Care Package for a Sick Friend

It may be hard to know how to care for a friend, especially if they live far away. Caring for someone from afar isn’t impossible, however. You can easily share the love with them with the following care package item ideas. Of course, you know your friend best. Try to spark an old joke or memory with a random or funny item as well. 

8. Records, tapes, or books

Though millions, if not billions of hours of music and books are widely available through streaming services, records, tapes, or regular paperback books. Some record and book companies also offer bundles in different genres to help your friend build his or her collection or find a new favorite.   

9. Gourmet popcorn or toppings

Any movie marathon wouldn’t be complete without snacks. Step up your friend’s popcorn game with a gourmet flavor or set of seasonings or toppings so they can customize a flavor themself.

10. Candles or incense

If your friend isn’t already into aromatherapy, consider pulling together some scents they may enjoy. If you’re unsure if they’ll like something woody, floral, citrus, or sweet, consider buying a few smaller options and let them find her favorite. 

11. Hair accessories

The hair accessories you pick out may differ for your friend’s hair type or style, but everyone should feel free to experiment from time to time. Being sick is a great excuse to get creative. Include wraps, clips, scrunchies, or headbands to help keep wild hair at bay while recovering at home or running quick errands. 

12. Sweats

By no means do you have to splurge on a designer pair of sweats for your friend. You can likely find a fun option that will help them ride out their sickness at a low-cost store. You can even consider customizing them with tie-dye or a silly appliqué prior to sending them.

13. A journal

If your friend has never journaled before, consider getting one that comes pre-filled with prompts, such as a gratitude journal. Or, you can always write in your own prompts for them to fill out. Including custom messages or notes inside would also be a nice touch. 

14. Basic care items

If your friend is spending time in the hospital, they may not have easy access to some of the most basic care items. This includes things like cleansing wipes, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant or body spray, hair care, and more. Here are some other ideas for care packages for hospital stays.

What to Put in a Care Package for a Sick Child

When a child is sick, they may not have a good idea of what’s going on. It’s important to include items to comfort them as well as entertain them. Think back to your own childhood and what items you loved most. 

15. Stuffed animal

Stuffed animals are comforting for people of all ages. However, giving a new animal for your loved one to add to his or her collection is a great idea as they heal. Consider getting one that their parents can easily wash, or that’s meant to be more durable. 

16. Stickers or temporary tattoos

Stickers and temporary tattoos can provide hours of entertainment. They’re often affordable, too, and you can likely find a wide variety to throw into a care package without taking up too much space.

17. A coloring book

Some children love coloring books, while others don’t. However, being stuck in bed may be the perfect time to inspire anyone’s inner artist. Consider including some washable markers or colored pencils as well. 

18. I Spy or hidden image books

These types of books are affordable and can provide entertainment beyond screen time. You can likely find different themes or versions that your loved one will like best. 

19. A (small) scooter or tricycle

If the child you’re creating a care package for is younger, including a small scooter or tricycle to ride around the house or driveway and expend (just a little) energy could be a lifesaver. Of course, you should check whether or not their home has enough room for something like this. 

20. Legos or blocks

Any type of new toy is bound to make your loved one smile. Consider buying legos or blocks that can be washed or disinfected easily.

21. Playdoh or modeling clay

Playdoh and modeling clay are relatively inexpensive, non-messy options that can help a sick child pass the time. 

What to Put in a Care Package for a Sick College Student

Putting together a care package for a college student shouldn’t be difficult. If they is saying in a dorm or even an apartment, treks off-site to stores will probably be less than favorable. they will likely be grateful for just about anything you come up with. 

22. Custom ice cream

As long as your student isn’t having trouble eating, sending them a custom ice cream flavor could be a great treat. There are many producers across the U.S. — both family-owned and larger — that offer convenient shipping of unique flavors or even curated samples. 

23. A beanbag chair or ergonomic pillow

Though a beanbag chair or pillow may sound like an odd suggestion, it’s important to help your student be motivated to get out of bed (or at least sit upright) if they can.

After all, riding out a sickness all day in bed may make it harder to sleep through the night. Sitting completely straight in a desk chair can be difficult if they’re unwell, so a beanbag or back pillow could serve as a happy medium. 

24. Restaurant gift cards

Ordering in and takeout can get expensive, especially for college students. Even if you’re unable to send a huge gift card, every little bit helps. Try to pick somewhere that offers delivery or at least a drive-thru.

25. Tea

You're loved one may prefer coffee over tea. But, being sick can be the perfect time to gain an appreciation for something new. Tea is also great for providing relief from a lot of illnesses.

26. Blue-blocking glasses

If your loved one doesn’t have a prescription, they may still benefit from some blue-light-blocking glasses. Many styles are affordable and attractive and can help with eye strain and fatigue. Plus, blue light is believed to contribute to poor sleep. Your student can then be freer to catch up on schoolwork (or streaming) before bed.

27. Fuzzy socks

While your loved one is sick, his or her wardrobe will likely consist of whatever is most comfortable. Add to their outfit with a pair of fuzzy socks. 

28. Magazines

Textbooks can get tiring. Help your loved one feel inspired with a wellness or fashion magazine as they recovers.

What to Put in a Care Package for Parents of a Sick Child

For many people, dealing with a sick child is far worse than them being sick themselves. You can help your loved ones out while their child is sick by including items to not only pamper them but also serve a practical purpose as well. 

29. A card or board game

A bit of waiting around is probably expected with a sick child. Consider sending a board or card game that’s distracting in a good way. 

30. Assorted coffee

Long nights and early mornings are common with a sick child. It’s not always economical to visit a local coffee shop every time caffeine is required. Consider sending your loved ones some gourmet coffee they can brew at home. 

31. A new blanket or throw

You can decide how luxe you want to get or what would make the most sense for the climate your loved ones live in. Or, perhaps you think a more practical or casual blanket would get more use by your loved ones. 

32. Wine or cocktail glasses 

There shouldn’t be shame in unwinding after a long day with a glass of wine or a cocktail. Consider finding something custom that can be used for special occasions — such as a celebration — after your loved ones’ child recovers. 

33. A meal or cooking kit

Parents likely have more space — and more of a desire — to make a meal from scratch. For example, you can include a recipe or two, a few utensils, a spice blend, or something similar to keep it cost-effective if you don’t want to splurge on an official subscription.

34. Seeds or a garden kit

Growing your own herbs or produce at home is possible with user-friendly kits — even ones that work in small spaces. Both indoor and outdoor gardens are a great family activity, too. They can likely help everyone become inspired to eat a bit healthier and get some vitamin D.  

35. Cleaning wipes

Though not the most exciting item to include in a care package, cleaning wipes are crucial nonetheless. Consider buying a variety with a pleasant scent or that’s made with natural ingredients.

Any Item Can Express Care 

You don’t have to spend a ton or put in a lot of effort to create a care package that shows how you feel about your sick loved one. In fact, it’s probably easy enough for you to double-up the next time you go on your own grocery or supply haul and treat your loved one to the same items.

No matter what items you choose to include, including a message or card that expresses some get-well wishes will likely mean a lot, too.

If you're looking for more ways to show you care, read our guide on care packages for families with COVID-19 and surgery care packages for him.

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