The Hospital Gifts That People Actually Want To Receive (Updated 2023)
When a loved one or a friend isn’t well, of course you want to send them a hospital care package. But what makes thoughtful or useful hospital gifts that will be gratefully received? Well stop scrolling, because we’re here with the inspiration!
Based on our knowledge of working on wards and speaking with people who have been in hospital for extended stays, here are the get well soon gifts that people actually want to receive.
Can I Send Flowers To Hospital?
Flowers and fruit baskets may be your go-to gifts, but most acute hospital wards don’t accept them (or other fresh food). They’re perishable, can take up much needed space around the hospital bed and infections can even be spread through the flower water.
Don’t worry though, as you can buy plenty of other gifts for someone in hospital.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means we may get a small commission if you click and buy (at no cost to you). We chose the products as we think they make great hospital gifts and hope you do too.
Best Tech Gifts
Long Charging Cable
You might not think this is the most exciting or beautiful present, but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in use.
Before I went into hospital recently to have my baby (a beautiful boy!), my sister kept telling me to get a two-metre long charger so it would stretch from the wall to my bed and mean I could take the countless photos I wanted to. While I wasn’t sure if I needed it (I have a perfectly good 1m charger), I was so relieved that I listened to her – being in hospital can be overwhelming and confusing and having access to the outside world at your fingertips via an extra long charging cable really helps.
I was on a busy ward, the plug socket was all the way behind my bed and I couldn’t easily get up and about! I even lent it to another new mum who hadn’t got the ‘long charging cable memo’.
One thing I would say is that now back home, I prefer a shorter cable as the socket is close to my bed, but it’s good to have the option for when you need it!
A power bank is so useful, and will definitely get used outside of hospital too – whether that’s to give extra battery life on a day out, long journey or those days when you need to make lots of phone calls!
This portable battery charger plugs easily into their phone or tablet and gives the gift of extra juice. It can even work well if they have a long charger and two devices – so one is charging and the other can still be used. It means countless more hours of entertainment day or night when they’re alone without having to worry about charging. Options are available for iPhone and Android – just make sure you know what your giftee has!
Noise Cancelling Headphones
The beauty of these technology gifts is that they would have use outside of hospital too (or would even keep their resale value).
Hospitals are noisy places – the amazing staff coming to see you 24/7, the ongoing chatter of other people on the ward (someone always seems to make a video call during the night), meaning it can be hard for patients to switch off. That’s where noise cancelling headphones come in.
I’m not uber-techy, and find choosing headphones a bit overwhelming – there’s so many choices at various price points. I recently (in anticipation of my own hospital stay) put my old cabelled iPhone headphones away and replaced them with wireless earbuds.
I chose the Anker Soundcore Liberty Pro on a recommendation from a friend – plus they were cheaper than Air Pods. The noise cancelling function is amazing – I usually actually just put one in as both would make me really oblivious to my surroundings! If you get these for your loved one, it’s worth charging them up for them before giving, and helping them to pair the headphones with their device(s). This way, they’re good to go from the start.
Headphones come in different styles and some people prefer over ear vs in ear headphones. Over ear headphones look more like the classic headphone, fitting over the head and with two padded ear cups that cover the ear in full. They offer an easy to achieve (just pop them on) comfy fit – and comfort is key for someone in hospital.
We like these noise cancelling over ear padded ones from Bose. Called Bose Quiet Comfort II, these headphones have two levels of noise cancellation so your loved one can comfortably listen to their favourite music, relaxing podcast or chilled meditation app. As a real plus, they also offer real longevity for outside hospital too as there’s the option to sync them with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant (but work without too).
If you just want noise cancelling comfort without the added functionality, the original Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones are a great option too.
Lazy Arm Phone Holder
There’s nothing like an extended hospital stay for making you even more grateful for your tech devices. Keeping in touch with people via message, WhatsApp and video calls is so important for your mental health, and we also read via a Kindle and watch movies on our tablet.
All this helps pass the time, but holding a phone or tablet up for hours a day can be tiring (and for some people may not be possible). That’s why we love this invention (and the ‘lazy arm’ name too!).
It’s essentially an extension to your arm (saving you hours of arm ache and stopping your hand holding the device in an uncomfortable way). The lazy arm clasps onto the hospital bedside table or tray, and the sides are adjustable to fit the exact size of the phone or tablet (so it can be used by more than one device – we love a versatile present!). This gizmo is the to give your loved one hours of easy entertainment.
Around The Neck Reading Light
If your loved one feels up to reading whilst in hospital, then it provides a real form of escapism. But how do you read when you can’t control the lighting on the ward? And how can you avoid over straining your eyes – especially important considering that as we get older we naturally start to lose the focusing ability in our lens, affecting how clear the words in our books are.
Enter the LED neck reading light. This bendy, ergonomic design can be shaped to sit snugly round your loved one’s neck, and it provides hours (without the need for constant recharging) of directed reading light. It’s so easy on the eye (literally!), as you can adjust the brightness and choose from three different LED lights – white, warm white and yellow.
Looking for more gift inspiration? Check out our article on the best gifts for older adults, or what to buy someone who is recovering from a stroke.
Sleeping In The Hospital
The hospital at night doesn’t switch off, which means the wards can be noisy. We’ve cherry picked these slumber-worthy gifts to make sleeping in the hospital that much easier.
Silk Sleep Mask
I need a dark room to sleep, so sleep masks have long been my go-to and I’m well versed in what makes a good one. Blackout – tick. Soft material so you don’t even notice you’re wearing it – tick. And that’s why this silk sleep mask is a great buy for someone in hospital.
Hospitals can be BRIGHT and this blackout eye mask comes highly recommended by someone who’s spent extensive time in hospital. The silk material means that it’s super soft, especially important at a time when your loved one will be craving comfort and anything to add that luxury is a real win. I mentioned earlier that the best masks are blackout, and this gorgeous eye mask achieves that as it includes memory foam which moulds to the face (without applying pressure to the eye area) and ensures no gaps for pesky light to get in. Plus I love the calming cherry blossom print.
Best Ear Plugs
Hospital wards let be honest aren’t synonymous with a good night’s sleep. The curtains being pulled back and forth, the other people talking on the phone or snoring…and we all know how important sleep is to optimum health.
Help your loved one ignore the cacophony of noises and drift into a peaceful sleep with the gift of ear plugs. We really like these because they’re washable and reusable (there’s enough waste in the world without using those airplane-style ear plugs too!) and they’re made from silicone so you shape them to actually fit your ear (I have annoyingly small ears so standard issue ear plugs just don’t fit). As an aside this is also why the Soundcore ear buds above are so good as they come with various sizes for you to work out which is best.
These cute ear plugs also come with a handy case – how important is it in hospital to ensure things don’t roll onto the floor etc?! And most importantly they dampen surrounding noise by 27 decibels, so you really can feel more rested.
When you’re in hospital you just want a touch of home don’t you. And hospital bedding doesn’t scream ‘home’ to me. There’s an easy way to overcome this – as recommended by a friend of mine who was recently in hospital. Give them a nice pillowcase!
Whilst you can’t use home-loved sheets and duvet covers, a pillow case is an easy to transport, low fuss pressie. Softer than standrad hospital issue bedding, it will make even the squidgy hospital pillows feel more inviting.
A real top tip though is to go for a colour – white could easily get mixed up with hospital laundry whilst a different colour pillowcase will stand out.
It’s not just the hustle and bustle that makes it hard to sleep in hospital – a hospital stay can be stressful and upsetting, and sometimes we just need some aids to help us relax before we nod off. That’s where pillow spray comes in. Sweet smelling (the lavender is dreamy, literally and metaphorically) and small, it makes a thoughtful gift for someone spending time in hospital.
I love the relaxing This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray – it’s a best seller and there’s a reason for that. As well as smelling GOOD (so it also takes the sterile feel out of the bedding), it’s natural, vegan and cruelty free. Give the gift of zzz to that special someone you know who is prone to night waking.
Gravity Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets give people the sensation of being hugged and secure. This comfort releases the hormone oxytocin which helps to relax and encourage sleep. A gravity weighted blanket make ideal gifts for people in hospital as they add a touch of comfort and glamour to the hospital bedding, and can be used ongoing once back at home. Choose from a range of sizes – single or double may be best for hospital use.
Knee Pillow For Sleeping
You’ll likely spend more time in bed in hospital which can be uncomfortable if you have a weak lower back. If this is true for your loved one, then give them a little bit of comfort with an orthopedic knee pillow. Yes, it might not sound like the most exciting of gifts but mark my words, they work so well (yes, I have one – I was influenced by my best friend and haven’t looked back).
I’ve got this one from Beautrip. Made from memory foam and with a washable jersey style cover, the shape is designed for side sleepers to go between the knees, or to go under them if you sleep on the back. There’s an elastic strap to keep it in place – don’t let this put you off, you actually don’t feel it when sleeping as it’s so light.
There’s nothing like a clean face and hydrated skin to make people in hospital feel a bit better. These beauty gifts are a little bit of luxury.
Hospitals can be hot hot hot, which isn’t great for your skin. A refreshing hydrating face mist can help your loved one stay cool and look after their skin at the same time.
There’s lots of options on the market – you could go for the Evian water facial spray, but for a touch of luxury (and we all need this when we’re in hospital) I love the Elizabeth Arden Miracle Hydrating Mist which is part of the brand’s much-loved 8 Hour range.
It will help your favourite in-patient feel refreshed and ready to speak with a doctor when they’re woken up in the middle of the night, or ready to chat with their visitors. One spray just makes you feel more awake.
Best Dry Shampoo
Anyone in hotel for an extended stay will be wanting a dry shampoo that actually works. Having tried quite a few (believe me!), it’s fair to say that Living Proof Dry Shampoo is the best around as it really doesn’t leave any chalky remnants. It mimics the freshly washed feel that someone in hospital will love.
Want to know a dry shampoo secret? To feel hair fresh in hospital, you need to really rub it in with your fingers, don’t just spray and leave it to soak in. This activates the dry shampoo so it actually works (plus it gives a nice volume boost too).
I discovered mouthwash tablets when watching Dragon’s Den one evening! Banish memories of bright green Listerine that burned your throat, the secret to sweet smelling breath is here – and it’s natural!
These Geoorganics mouthwash tablets are just what someone needs in hospital when you wake up at odd times, feel groggy and getting to the bathroom or veen requesting water to brush your teeth is a hassle. They’re little tabs of toothpaste flavoured with organic spearmint oil, which dissolve naturally with saliva and can make you feel fresher without the need for a toothbrush. Plus they come in a small bottle (180 tablets) so won’t take up vital space around the hospital bed.
Dry and chapped lips are very common in hospital patients – the wards are hot, people often get dry mouths post anatesthetic and they can sometimes be dehydrated. This makes a non scented, hard working lip balm a great gift idea. Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream lip balm is the ultimate beauty present.
Non scented and suitable for men and women, it will protect lips and leave them feeling softer. It’s not super sticky (who wants their hair sticking to their lips, especially when in hospital?), it’s just really moisturising and gets deep into the lip’s epidermis. So you can wave goodbye to painful lips.
Oh, and one tube lasts literally FOREVER too so it’s a real luxury yet value pressie at the same time.
No Rinse Shampoo Caps
Nothing makes you feel better than clean hair but when you’re bedridden that can be hard to come by. If brushing out dry shampoo is too difficult, then these amazing no rinse shampoo caps are a “shortcut to feeling normal”.
Whilst these might not scream ‘glamour’, they really do work. Each cap contains shampoo and conditioner which is massaged into the hair (a good excuse for a head massage!) before being removed and the hair towel dried. So you’re not just giving a gift, but also offering your time and touch which is worth so much more.
Just Add Water Face Cleansing Cloths
Skincare guru Caroline Hirons is a firm believer in cleansing the face morning and night with a hot flannel, but this isn’t all that easy when you’re in hospital and don’t have easy access to a sink. So what do you do?
Don’t go for wipes, they just don’t get your face clean. Enter the Olay Daily Facials Water Activated Dry Cloths. Super convenient, they’re large enough to be cut into two (getting real bang for your buck) and leave skin feeling spotlessly clean. You just need to wet them with some water (cold from a water jug or bottle will do the job) and massage them in your hands to get a lather going. Use both sides of the cloth on your face and you’ll be feeling refreshed in no time. Clean skin for the win!
Games In Hospital
Here are the ultimate hospital boredom busters, played solo or with visiting guests.
Mindfulness Colouring Book
It’s not just for someone arty – mindfulness comes in so many ways, and coluring can really help your lovely pal in hospital take their mind off why they’re there. There’s something very meditative about mindful colouring for adults – it takes us back to our childhoods and gives us something to focus on in the here and now. If you’re searching for hospital gift ideas then this calming colouring book could be the answer. With hypnotic images that seamlessly twist and curl to mimic the waves and other natural elements, this is far removed from the colouring books of your past. Pair it with some bright Give some bright gel pens – they go onto the page so smoothly, it all helps to add to the calming state the activity is known for.
There’s so many great games out there – read our round-up on the best games for the elderly, or check out this on puzzles for people living with dementia.
Logic Puzzles For Adults
Sudoku is one of those puzzles that transcends generations – I love to flex my brain muscle with it, but so does my 8 year old niece and 70 year old dad! Puzzle books are a great option for someone stuck in hospital, as they don’t take up much space and can keep you entertained for literally hours. This book has 300 puzzles, from easy to fiendish, meaning that depending on how someone is feeling there is a puzzle for them (I don’t know about you, but I could only tackle a difficult Sudoku if I had a fresh head and was feeling confident in my ability). Great value, it’s also large print so is a good option if someone struggles with their eyesight too.
Large Print Playing Cards
Hospital can be a lonely place at times, and it can be all too easy to turn to our phones or devices to stay connected. But sometimes we need to turn off. And going back to basics, with card games can be just the ticket.
This set of large print playing cards can be used solo for a game of solitaire or dealt out when friends and family come to visit to play rummy, whist (or poker!). I grew up playing cards and we often forget how great they can be to while away the time and absorb you into the game you’re playing. Just what someone in hospital can need.
Hospital clothing usually consists of a backless grown, some net knickers and not a lot else. This look isn’t the most flattering nor very comfortable, warm or dignified either. Perk someone up with these hospital clothing gift ideas.
The name “bed jackets” easily explains what this genius clothing is – a jacket to wear in bed! Sometimes called a cape, it’s shorter than a dressing gown (so it doesn’t get tangled up in the hospital bed) and easier to put on and off. Bed jackets are a great way for hospital patients to stay warm and cover up easily when they have guests.
We like this option below from The Able Label. It’s a beautiful brand which has a fantastic ethos, designing clothes that are easy to get on and off – they might have hidden poppers for example with buttons just for show. This bed jacket looks stylish and is a good cover up so help the patient feel more put together when a guest arrives at their bedside.
We’ve got more examples of bed jackets for men and women in our gifts for stroke patients article too.
Cashmere Bed Socks
In hospital you can spend so much time in bed, so easy to put on treats can really make you feel better. And what’s better than cashmere socks. They’re real loungewear luxury, keeping your tootsies toasty warm. Just make sure you put slippers on if you’re going to the bathroom!
Slippers For Swollen Feet
Swollen feet can be a problem during hospital stays after injury or because of long-term conditions such as heart failure. Cosy Feet make an extra wide range of velcro slippers for men and womenwhich can accommodate most feet.
They even sell left and right slippers or shoes separately if one foot is affected while the other isn’t. Having correct fitting footwear is important not just to reduce falls but also for comfort and the prevention of sores.
Short Sleeve Pyjamas
For extended hospital stays, an option to get out of the hospital ware and into something of your own can raise the spirits. Go for a short sleeve pyjama set – sleeves can get caught on a cannula if they have one in. We like this option as although the top has short sleeves, the elasticated trousers are full length and so are more dignified. By The Able Label, they’re also really easy to get on and off.
Pyjamas For Men
Pyjamas are so much more dignified than hospital gowns. This stylish poly-cotton set has a velcro fastening shirt (no buttons sticking in and it’s easy to get on and off) and elasticated trousers. A really good option that will get some wear back at home too.
Wheelchair blankets don’t get caught in the wheels like a regular blanket could – they are smaller and distend to fit the chair. A great shout for wheelchair users, they can use the blanket to stay warm when being pushed to different departments or even between buildings.
They are also useful when sitting in a chair on the ward and are easier to handle than full size blankets. The one below is reversible and water resistant so is good for indoor and outdoor use.
For smokers, hospital can be tough but can also offer an opportunity to quit so don’t offer to bring them cigarettes. There are various gums and patches that you can buy for people but before you do check with the doctor. The doctor can actually prescribe these on the wards and most have a smoking cessation nurse available to patients who are interested in quitting.
Thank You Gift For Hospital Staff
The hospital staff are worth their weight in gold, and of course you want to thank them for taking such good care of your special someone. It can be hard to know what to buy for presents for nurses, doctors and more (don’t forget the radiographers, physios and anyone else who went the extra mile for your family).
Nancy spent a lot of time working on hospital wards, so these are her recommendations!
A big and delicious box of chocolates will give them that much-needed sugar rush during a busy shift – they can only accept pre-wrapped currently due to Covid-19.
For delicious drinks, treat them to some speciality tea or coffee (just make sure it’s tea bags or instant coffee for ease). Or a selection of squash for the staff room can be a mid-shift sugar hit.
Handcream is another winner for thank you gifts for doctors. Hospital staff wash their hands constantly so this could be for them to use at home for some sweet relief.
And don’t forget thank you cards. Send a team one, which can go up on their pin board and write a letter to any individuals who really helped you. This will be treasured and can also be used as examples of patient feedback for professional reviews.
Gifts You Can’t Buy
- Hospital visits. The saying “your presence not your presents” is true here – sometimes it’s just having someone there for company instead of them giving a gift. Gift your time and your loved one will remember it.
- Set up a Whatsapp group for their hospital stay. Invite relevant friends and family so people can stay up to date and your loved one feels the love themselves.
- Make the time for telephone and video calls. Let them know you are there to talk.
- Send a letter through the hospital postal system. Go back to snail mail and send a far-away loved one a letter.
It can be hard to think of gifts for the hospital that your friend or family member will actually want and need during their stay, so we hope this care package inspiration has helped. They’re really lucky they have someone like you there for them.
Forget the flowers and fruit. Useful tech gifts like noise cancelling headphones and long charging cables, beauty gifts such as moisturising lip balm, no wash shampoo caps and more are all on this article.
The best presents for nurses (and other hospital staff!) are:
– Pre-wrapped sweets, chocolates and biscuits
– Delicious drinks – tea, coffee and squash
– Hand cream to use at home
– A personal letter to a specific member of staff, or ward will be taken to heart