What to Bring Someone in the Hospital (And What NOT to Do!)

What to Bring to Someone in the Hospital


After recently having an extended hospital stay, I wanted to jot down all the kind and thoughtful things friends and family did for me. Plus, a few hospital etiquette faux pas to avoid. You might not need this post right now, but file it (or pin it) away because it might be helpful in the future. (And please add your suggestions to the comments section of the post. Your ideas are so helpful to other readers!)

Things to Do/Not Do:

  • Never visit if you or someone in your home is currently sick. Don’t put the patient at risk if there is even a small chance you might be passing along bad germs.
  • Always sanitize your hands upon entering and leaving the room. 
  • Don’t sit on someone’s hospital bed. Patients often feel they don’t have any personal space.
  • Never use the in-room bathroom. A reader once told me how awkward it was when her father-in-law used the bathroom in her postpartum room – not cool! Just use the one down the hall.
  • If the doctor comes in for rounds, step outside the room. Patient privacy, after all.
  • Offer to pray but ask what prayer requests the person has. As one reader told me, it’s often for family members and needs outside the person’s health needs.
  • Offer to drive children or elderly parents to visit loved one in hospital.
  • Call or text before visiting. You never know if someone is getting out of the shower or is indisposed for other reasons. Give them a heads up and make sure he/she is up for a visit. (And understand if the person declines your offer to visit).
  • Show up with something in hand. It can be as simple as an iced tea or perhaps a meal from a favorite restaurant or a thoughtful gift. See below for lots of ideas (courtesy of my friends and family who brought these things to me!).

Gift Ideas:

I am still so touched by the many gifts I received in the hospital (thank you notes are still being written!).  These are some of the things I received but also ideas that readers have shared. Some are good for any hospital stay, while others are good for longer hospital stays.

  • Flowers/Plants – A beautiful arrangement brightens the spirit. For a long stay, an orchid might be a nice thought.

  • Pretty Blanket – A Pottery Barn or Barefoot Dreams throw makes a hospital room feel a tad more cozy and is much warmer than the thin blankets the hospital provides.
  • Wrap – I never knew when a doctor or pastor would pop in so felt having a wrap to quickly cover myself up a little (and I am always cold!). I wore my Isabelle and Ingird cozy wrap nearly everyday in the hospital! It’s maternity so another favorite is White and Warren’s cashmere wraps
  • Nice Pillow and Pillowcase – The hospital pillows are made from plastic and are awful. A comfy pillow and/or luxurious pillowcase would be a welcome change. Y’all may have seen on Instagram the gorgeous pillowcase that Allison from Frances Rose sent me in the hospital.

  • Socks and/or Slippers – My friend sent me some cute socks. Perfect for a cold hospital room.
  • Hand lotion – Frequent hand-washing in the hospital leads to really dry hands. For women, a L’Occitane hand lotion would be so nice and smells so good.
  • Dry Shampoo/Travel Brush – A good dry shampoo is a fun gift to receive during a long hospital stay. I only washed my hair every 3-4 days so my dry shampoos were essential! My sister sent me Kristin Ess dry shampoo from Target and it worked great.
  • Luxurious beauty product – Spoil them with something they might not buy themselves. My skin was so terribly dry in the hospital. I could not have lived without my Beautycounter Nourishing Cleansing Balm.
  • Nail file/nail kit
  • Cookie DeliveryTiff’s Treats in Texas will send milk with their warm cookies! My friends from Birds and the Bees send me some and it made my day. And I had a fun treat for my girls when they visited.
  • DVDs – Most hospital rooms have a DVD player
  • Extra long iPhone Charger – I could not have survived without this charger!
  • Books and magazines or playing cards
  • Mini bluetooth speaker
  • Favorite Fountain Drink or Iced Tea. Or something from a juice bar or smoothie place
  • Healthy snacks – Hospital food is usually heavy and bland. For my extended hospital stay, it was nice to have granola bars, greek yogurt (if there is a fridge in the room), fruit, even things like pimento cheese and chicken salad to have on hand if that day’s lunch tray was inedible;).
  • Hair blow out – Drying your hair when weak and bed-ridden is nearly impossible. Perhaps she’d like someone to dry it for her and make her feel beautiful. Drybar offers this service in select cities. For Dallas recommendation, email me.
  • Manicure Gift Certificate – My friend, Steph, from Joy Creative Shop and one of my mom’s sweet friends sent a manicurist to do my nails in the hospital and it was AMAZING. I felt like a new person.
  • iTunes Gift Card – For music and audio books.
  • Food delivery gift card – Hospital food gets old so have a good meal delivered from a local restaurant. (Also a nice gesture if you can’t actually visit  in person.)
  • Make a Playlist of Uplifting Streaming Music or Favorite Podcasts
  • List of Encouraging Bible Verses 
  • Thank you Notes/Pen/Notepad/Stamps – A pocket notebook to keep bedside is nice for jotting down reminders and keep a list of thank you notes one needs to write. My favorite notecards right now are these Angel cards. Having some stamps on hand was also so helpful!
  • Adult coloring book and colored pencils – Find them on Amazon.
  • Activities / Treats for Children – I had so many friends drop off coloring books, markers, games and fun snacks for the girls when they visited. They were always excited to see what things we could do together when they visited. (Otherwise they got rambunctious and bored pretty fast!). My mom got a cute bin to put it all so the room didn’t look junky.
  • Parking Passes – If you are able to purchase prepaid parking passes for the hospital garage it’s nice to give these to the spouse and family of the patient because coming and going can add up. I kept a stack of passes near my bed and would give to friends that came to visit me in the hospital.
  • Bring something for the nurses and techs – My friend Whitney brought a box of bagels to leave at the nurse’s station from me. So sweet and it was much appreciated.

  • Bowl of Treats for Staff – A friend told me when her daughter was in the hospital she left a bowl of candy out with a sign that said, “Take one.” Just a small way to say thanks to the nurses, techs, and cleaning staff. You could do this for a friend or family member’s hospital room.

  • Truth for the Hard Places Verse Cards– Oliver and Hooper Paper brought my vision to life with these “Truth: For the Hard Places” Scripture cards in the DSG Boutique. These are the very verses that have given me hope during hard times in my life. They are laminated and on a ring so easy (and sanitary) to transport to the hospital or NICU or just keep in your car for daily encouragement.

What thoughtful things would you add to this list? Also, don’t miss my post specifically about visiting new moms in the  hospital. Also, the When Your Child Has a Hospital Visit that has gift ideas for children.


Top Photo: Megan Weaver


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20 thoughts on “What to Bring to Someone in the Hospital

  1. Wohoo!! Wonderful Ideas I must say, I couldn’t even think about things like blankets, pillows, DVDs, and books magazines etc. Actually, when you are visiting someone in hospital, it becomes difficult to think what is the right thing to do but having some gift in your hand can make out a way to cheer up the person. I personally love flowers. I used to give beautiful flowers bouquet every day to my best friend when she met an accident and was admitted to the hospital last year. I used to order it online from Hospital Florist in Sydney and I must say their quick delivery services was even better than awesome! You can check out amazing flowers and balloons at their website.

  2. NEVER offer to pray, bring bible verses, or make any references to religion whatsoever unless you’re certain of the patient’s religious beliefs.

    1. It’s about my love and God’s love for them. If someone is offended by the truth and what works, they have bigger issues in life…

  3. We in the Dallas Fire Department famiily have a retired female Fire Captain who sends a cozy monogramed throw to the patient either at hoe or in the hospital that she does herself. It is a keepsake we all treasure.

  4. Some great ideas but the top of your list is flowers or plants which most hospitals will not allow in wards these days.

  5. This is a GREAT list with wonderful ideas I hadn’t thought of. Thank you for putting it together – my cousin is going through major surgery and I live out of town and can’t visit her.

    I appreciate it!

  6. Lee,

    Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful ideas, as I look for some good gift ideas to send my cousin who just had open heart surgery.
    As a nurse who works for a large pediatric hospital, and a mother of a child who endured many hospital stays for treatment of cancer, you have shared many great ideas and view points that are right on target!
    Thanks for giving me some good ideas that I hadn’t even considered sending to my cousin, but think she would enjoy them as much as I would!
    Cincinnati, OH

  7. Good tips , however, because of health and safety, most hospitals do not allow fresh flowers to be bought in. Instead bring a nice plastic flower arrangement. No only do you not have to water, it also does not wilt and die!!!

  8. Hospital stays have been especially difficult over the last year and a half with visitor restrictions due to covid. Anything you can do to brighten a patient’s day while they are in the hospital is such an appreciated act of service. Thank you for sharing this great advice. My favorite tip for what to bring is warm cookies!

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