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14 Thoughtful Things To Bring Someone In The Hospital

Practical, inexpensive, non-floral.

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When a loved one is in the hospital, you naturally want to help in any way you can.

NBC / Via giphy.com

I have a problem where I tend to stand there like a dummy asking, lamely, "Is there anything I can do?" Apparently that's not so helpful!

In my hard-won experience as a useless visitor, I've found that there are some practical things you can bring someone during their stay in a hospital that will make their time there incrementally easier.

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1. A plush blanket, so they won't be at the mercy of hospital linens.

amazon.com

If your loved one is looking at a longer hospital stay, this super-soft blanket will make their time much more comfortable.

Promising review: "Holy cow! This blanket is amazing. I bought it as a gift and was really sad I couldn't keep it. It's the softest blanket I've felt in a long time. It feels luxurious and not cheaply made. Frankly, I'm gonna buy another one for cuddling on the couch!" —AJM

Get it on Amazon in multiple colors starting at $17.99.

2. A remote-controlled helicopter, which I guarantee will enchant and distract patients of all ages.

YouTube / RCManiaDotCom / Via youtube.com

I gave my boyfriend one of these last year when he got knee surgery and was almost entirely immobile for several weeks. I presented it to him with a sheepishness befitting a grown woman giving a remote-controlled helicopter to her somewhat residual-anesthesia-loopy boyfriend of only six months.

It turned out to be the perfect goofy distraction. Look, I can't explain what's so satisfying about flying a tiny helicopter, I can only tell you that this thing is an incredible distraction, and requires very little movement.

Get it on Amazon in multiple colors for $19.99 or at Jet for $18.98.

3. A scalp massager that looks vaguely like a torture device but feels like a sweet embrace.

kikkerland.com, amazon.com

I have one of these babies, and brought it to my aforementioned immobilized boyfriend when he was in extreme pain and I could literally think of nothing else to do to help. It's no opioid, but it's very relaxing, it provides a lovely, shivery sensation, and it has zero contraindications.

Get a pack of two on Amazon for $1.88.

4. Fuzzy socks, because now is the time to prioritize coziness.

amazon.com

Hospitals can be chilly and uncomfortable. These socks will feel like a most welcome hug for your loved one's feet.

Promising review: "I have MS and arthritis. At night my feet get very cold. These socks are amazing. I wear a pair every night and in the morning my feet don't hurt. I just purchased ten more pairs of these soft, warm, fuzzy socks, and there are not enough superlatives to describe how wonderful they are." —Julie B

Get a pack of three or five pairs of socks in multiple colors and patterns on Amazon for $8.90–$22.99.

5. A coloring book, valuable both for its meditative properties and its badass animal pictures.

bluestarcoloring.com, amazon.com

I was an adult coloring book skeptic for a long time, but I've recently turned a corner. They're genuinely absorbing in the kind of gentle, mindless way that's perfect for someone who's recovering from surgery or illness.

Get the coloring book for $8.99 and a set of 10 fine-tipped markers for $5.89 on Amazon.

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6. A soft sleep mask and plenty of ear plugs to help them shut out the lights and sounds and get some much-needed rest.

amazon.com, amazon.com

Hospitals are hives of activity, day and night. Ear plugs and a blackout mask will help create the illusion of peace and quiet.

Get a sleep mask from Amazon for $8.95 and bottle of 50 pairs of earplugs for $8.54 from Amazon or for $8.99 from Jet.

7. A really long phone charger, so they won't have to contort themselves to get at that sweet juice.

amazon.com

This is a practical offering, but one anyone in a hospital for a spell will appreciate. An extra phone charger is a no-brainer (it will be a help not only to your loved one, but to anyone else who visits them), but an extra-long phone charger is next-level thoughtful. Don't assume there will be an unoccupied outlet within easy reach of the bed—pick up a long-ass charger.

Get a six-foot charger for $8.99 or a 10-foot charger for $11.99 on Amazon.

8. Luxurious hand cream, because hospitals are dry AF.

amazon.com

Between the dehumidified climate and the constant hand-washing, hospitals will dry out a person's skin something fierce. This shea butter hand cream has a subtle and non-cloying lavender scent, goes on like velvet, and leaves hands soft and soothed. This is perhaps a small detail, but the packaging is much more "South of France" than "industrial-grade," which should make a welcome change from hospital-supplied toiletries.

Get it on Amazon for $12.

9. Cushy slippers that will add an element of hygge to hall jaunts.

amazon.com, amazon.com

Memory foam + hard soles make these ideal for hospital wear.

Get the men's slippers for $19.90 (available in sizes 7-14) and the women's in multiple colors for $16.87+ (available in sizes 5–12) on Amazon.

10. Instant coffee that tastes slow-brewed.

jet.com

Some hospitals have coffee shops or carts, but why risk it? This is, hands-down, the best instant coffee I have ever tasted. Bring some for your loved one's room to rescue them and/or their other visitors from the hospital's signature dishwater blend.

Get it at Jet for $10.26.

11. A super-silly game to ease boredom and encourage laughter.

amazon.com

Laughter isn't the best medicine. As a person who relies on actual medicine, I hate that saying. But laughter can be a welcome distraction from the stress of being in a hospital, and what makes for a more sure-fire laugh than a game that lets you make your own dank memes (help me—I'm old)?

Promising review: "This game is crazy fun. I brought it to a family gathering and we all had a blast! If you want to laugh your ass off and get abs from it, order this game. You will not be disappointed." —Amazon Customer

Alternately, pick up some Mad Libs. They're surprisingly fun!

Get What Do You Meme for $29.99 and a book of Mad Libs for $6.99 on Amazon.

12. Books—whatever you think they'll find delightful and fascinating.

us.macmillan.com, penguinrandomhouse.com, amazon.com

In my experience, hospital stays are not the time when most people feel like tackling Proust (though all power to those who do). When I spent a week in the hospital, I mostly craved fun, breezy fare.

Obviously, choose books based on what you know of your loved one's taste, but I recommend Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette for a clever, engaging, relatively low-stakes mystery; Tana French's excellent In the Woods is an incredibly engaging crime novel; and Jenny Lawson's memoir Furiously Happy is an implausibly hilarious book about severe depression.

You can find more of BuzzFeed's recommendations for laugh-out-loud books here, short books here, and plot-twisty books here.

Get Where'd You Go, Bernadette for $8.79, In the Woods for $10.39, and Furiously Happy for $8.79 on Amazon.

13. Home-cooked food, because they're probably going to get sick of both the cafeteria and anything you can find in a vending machine.

Smitten Kitchen / Via smittenkitchen.com

Make sure to bring food that can either be eaten cold or will hold up well in a microwave. After my boyfriend's surgery, some friends brought over this lasagna, which was awesome. Chicken soup, too, is a classic for a reason.

Goos fresh fruit may also be in short supply at the hospital, so a bag of apples or oranges is also a good idea.

Make sure you check with your loved one about any dietary restrictions you should be aware of.

14. Movie, TV, and podcast recommendations (and a means to watch/listen to them if necessary) are the gift that keeps on giving.

A24 Films / Via giphy.com

Yeah, this one is pretty obvious. Come armed with media recommendations! Crowdsource if necessary! If your loved one doesn't have a device to watch or listen on and you have one you can spare during their hospital stay, then you, my friend, are the real MVP.

If you need inspiration, check out some of BuzzFeed's recommendations for fascinating podcasts, binge-worthy TV shows, and feel-good movies.

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