When someone you know has surgery, you want to support them however you can. But, you may not know exactly what to say or do to help them feel better. Sending them a sympathy card expressing your concern for their difficulties is thoughtful.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Post-Surgery Gifts for Her
- Post-Surgery Gifts for Him
- Post-Surgery Gifts for Children
- More Post-Surgery Gift Ideas
But sending a gift can give your loved one a great deal of comfort. It shows them how much they mean to you. A gift can also offer practical help to a recovering patient during a difficult time. Here are a few of our favorite sympathy gift ideas that will work for a variety of people.
Tip: Unfortunately, surgery and medical intervention can't always save a life. If you've recently lost someone, our post-loss checklist can help you work through the tasks and challenges you might face.
Post-Surgery Gifts for Her
When you have a friend or family member recovering from surgery, you may be tempted to send her flowers and call it a day. But while flowers are pretty, they aren’t practical or particularly entertaining. Try these suggestions for a more outside-of-the-box gift idea.
1. Super soft blanket
Spending several days in bed sounds great, right? It’s not as much fun when you’re in pain. Gifts that make people feel more comfortable when they’re confined to bed will be appreciated. Super soft and snuggly throw blankets are a great gift.
They’re so cozy, it’s the perfect gift for someone recovering from illness.
2. Swear word coloring book
Having limited mobility after surgery can be frustrating. You can’t get up and move around, you can’t work, you’re bored, you’re in pain—it’s not anyone’s idea of a good time. Help your loved one blow off some steam. Buy them a swear word coloring book and some nice markers or colored pencils to go with it.
This isn’t the right gift for everyone. Your best friend will probably appreciate it more than your grandma. But the right person will be cheered up by a silly gift like this. And as a bonus, they’ll have something to keep them entertained.
3. U-shaped body pillow
Sleeping and resting can be a challenge after you’ve had surgery. You may need to keep weight off of an incision area, or need to elevate parts of your body.
This pillow is excellent for helping people with post-surgical pain. With this pillow, your loved one can achieve the most comfortable position while they recuperate.
4. Mini spa basket
Someone who has just had major surgery may not be able to go for a massage or take a hot bath because of their incisions. But they can still indulge in some spa time at home. Put together a gift basket with relaxing indulgences that can be enjoyed in bed.
This can include things like:
- Scented candles
- Essential oils and diffuser
- Moisturizing hand cream
- Lip balm
- Fuzzy socks infused with aloe and lotion
- Gel eye mask
Post-Surgery Gifts for Him
Society sometimes expects men to push through their pain. But male patients need to rest and recover after surgery.
Give the men in your life gifts that will encourage them to take their time with the healing process.
5. Bathrobe or dressing gown
Women have a lot of sleepwear and loungewear options when they’re recovering from surgery. Men don’t always have as many choices in their closets.
If your male friend or family member has had abdominal surgery, their usual sleepwear might be uncomfortable. The waistband of pajama pants or basketball shorts can rub painfully against incisions. Gift your guy with a dressing gown or bathrobe that will enable them to heal in comfort.
6. Snack basket
After surgery, patients may not have a huge appetite. But they still need to eat to keep their strength up. Put together a basket of your loved one’s favorite snacks. Make sure they’re non-perishable so they can be kept right by the patient’s bed.
This is helpful for people with limited mobility who can’t make it to the kitchen. Things like nuts and dried fruit are filling and have some nutritional value. Popcorn is another good snack for people who can’t eat a heavy meal.
7. Neck pillow
After surgery, many people have to be on extended bed rest. This can get very uncomfortable after a few days. A neck pillow can help provide support so they can read or watch TV without straining themselves.
We like the MLVOC Travel Pillow from Amazon.
Resting and relaxing after surgery can get boring after a while. Man can’t live on binge-watching alone. Reading material is a great gift, but if a patient is on a lot of pain medication, they may not have the attention span for a book.
Magazines are excellent gifts—they’re an entertaining diversion that doesn’t require a ton of focus. And there are magazines for just about every specialty. So you can likely find at least one for anyone’s area of interest.
We like National Geographic magazine. You can order National Geographic subscription and browse other magazine titles on Amazon.
Post-Surgery Gifts for Children
It can be especially hard for children to rest and heal after surgery. Kids have a lot of energy and may not understand the importance of taking it easy. Get them some gifts that will encourage them to take the time to recuperate.
9. Stuffed animals
Stuffed animals are comforting for kids of all ages. Get a small squishy toy for them to hug or a giant teddy bear for them to snuggle with.
It will help them feel like they have some companionship during their enforced downtime.
10. Activity books and lap desk
Kids can get bored and restless when they have to be still. A little lap desk and a stack of activity books can help assuage their boredom. Little kids may like coloring books with their favorite characters on them.
Pre-teens may enjoy more intricate coloring books. Mandalas are currently a very popular coloring book subject. You can also get word search books or sudoku geared towards kids. Busy hands and a busy mind may help keep their bodies still while they recover.
We like the 365 Jumbo Activity Book for Kids Ages 4-8 on Amazon.
11. Fun pajamas
Sometimes when we’re under the weather, a little silliness can help brighten our day. Luckily fun pajamas are on-trend right now.
Cozy onesies are available featuring a wide variety of characters and in a range of sizes. Get them for any little kid - or big kid - who needs a little cheering up after surgery.
We like these Footless Micro Fleece Onesie Pajamas with Character Hood.
The best part of being sick when you’re a kid is getting to snuggle up and watch TV and movies. Ask the patient’s parents if there are any movies their kid has been wanting to see, and offer to bring them a copy.
You could also bring movies you loved when you were a kid. If the parents don’t have a DVD player, offer to pay for a month of Disney+ or another streaming service.
More Post-Surgery Gift Ideas
Some gifts are perfect for everyone. There are basic things everyone needs. But recovering from illness or surgery might make it difficult to get these things. These gift ideas will be helpful no matter who you’re giving them to.
13. Grocery and meal delivery
When someone is recovering from surgery, they need to eat to keep up their strength. But they might not be well enough to go to the grocery store or even cook themselves a meal. You can help out in a few ways.
Many major grocery stores are now offering grocery delivery services. Even if you’re across the country, you can place an order for delivery and pay for it. Just ask your friend ahead of time what they need. If you live closer, you can cook some meals that freeze and reheat well and drop them off. Both of these gifts can offer comfort and nourishment to your loved one.
You might also consider taking a homemade post-surgery meal to your loved one, too.
14. Cleaning service
Keeping your household clean and organized can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. It becomes much more difficult when you’re recovering from surgery.
Your loved one likely has a lot of physical limitations. They’re probably not supposed to bend, twist, or lift anything heavy. Hiring a cleaning crew to come by and help with laundry, dishes, and other household tasks is a great service. This is a great gift for cancer patients in particular.
A cancer patient may be immunocompromised. They’ll need to come home to a home that has been deep-cleaned and sanitized. A professional cleaning crew can help make your loved one’s home a safe environment.
15. Books or an e-book reader
When someone is recovering from surgery, there’s a lot of downtime. Boredom can be a very bad thing for patients, because they may try to rush their recovery. Make sure your loved one has plenty to keep them occupied. Some good reading material is a great distraction. You can buy books they might be interested in, or invest in an e-book reader.
E-book readers are relatively inexpensive these days. And you can check out e-books for free from most local libraries. Your loved one won't have to spend a lot of money to fill up their e-reader. That option is especially great for people who may lack the muscle or dexterity to hold a heavy hardcover book.
We like the Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon.
16. Bedside storage organizer
When someone has major surgery, they often have to stay in bed for extended periods. This means they may need to keep a lot of things within arms reach. You can get bedside organizers that hang off the side of your bed and have storage pockets.
You can keep all kinds of things in there including the following:
- Cell phone
- Portable charger
- Remote control
Helping Your Loved One Recover With a Gift
Recovering from surgery is never fun, no matter how old you are. Thoughtful gifts can provide a great deal of relief.
Gifts will be appreciated whether they reduce boredom or provide comfort. Mostly they will be appreciated because it shows you care enough to put thought into selecting the perfect present.