Whether planned or unexpected, a stay in the hospital often lacks the little comforts we take for granted. Small containers or toiletries, such as lotions, lip balm, mouthwash and soft tissues, keep the patient and family comfortable. A stuffed animal can provide comfort to a child during a hospital stay. Slippers or warm socks with nonslip bottoms are ideal for cold hospital floors. The hospital provides blankets, but they aren't always soft and cozy. A special blanket, pillow or robe can seem like a luxury compared with the standard-issue hospital amenities.
The family of the patient often spends long hours at the hospital with few options for snacks and meals. Your care package is an opportunity for the family to eat without leaving the hospital room. Packaged, nonperishable snacks work the best because they'll keep for extended stays in the hospital. Baked goods you make yourself bring a bit of home. If you're including food for the patient, check on food restrictions. Someone who is sick might only feel like eating certain foods. Gift cards to restaurants are also an option for care packages. The cards alleviate the costs of eating out during the hospital stay while providing variety for meals.
If you know the family well, you can choose forms of entertainment that match their interests. Otherwise, general forms of entertainment, such as magazines, crossword books, puzzles and books, help pass the time. If the hospital room has a DVD available, movies are another option. If a child is involved -- either as the patient or as a family member -- include some special entertainment options, such as coloring books or travel board games.
A little note tucked in with the goodies in the care package lets the patient and family know you're thinking of them. The note adds a personal touch to all of the items in the basket. Gathering notes and cards from several friends provides the family with lots of connections to life outside the hospital. If you have a child, let her draw a picture for the family. A family in the hospital might find those personal touches inspiring, especially during a long hospital stay.