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Hospital Food Gift

I want to give a gift to someone who is in the hospital. This should be something that the patient can offer to guests, as well as hospital staff. Can you think of anything besides chocolates? I want it to be something small that can be grabbed and eaten (no fruit baskets). I was thinking of a combination dried fruit, nuts and candy tray, but am concerned about the items not being individually wrapped or portioned out. Thanks for all suggestions.

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  1. I'm sorry I can't help with a source, but having a mother-in-law who is in and out of the hospital frequently (and who got a MERSA infection), I wouldn't touch any unwrapped food with a ten foot pole. It's not a good environment for food. If you do bring something, for sure make it something that has individually wrapped components (I know I've seen cookie/brownie gift baskets where they are individually wrapped, or some kind of trail mix/nut/dried fruit basket where they package 1oz individual portions).

    1 Reply
    1. re: BeeZee

      Individually wrapped brownies is a great idea. Thank you!

    2. Find out what the recipient can/can't eat. My step dad has some health problems that cause a suppressed immune system. When he is in the hospital, he isn't allow any outside food and no plants or flowers in the room.

      Once that's covered, check with a local bakery to see if they will package cookies or muffins individually. You could also look at a specialty foods store with gift baskets. The foods wouldn't be individually wrapped, but they would be small enough to share with 2-3 people and not leave anything sitting around open for extended periods of time.

      1. I've worked in hospitals, and we would be deluged with sweets during the holidays--so much so that we'd put away unopened boxes of stuff to last through Valentine's! That said, if you choose a basket of wrapped items, try to have some small packs of dried fruit or nuts (only if nuts are sealed, due to allergies). Nice of you to want to include staff, too!

        1 Reply
        1. re: pine time

          Thanks for bringing up the point about sweets.

        2. After you check with the nursing staff to see if your friend has any dietary restriction, how about some pound cake? Have you got a store with a good bakery, or just a good bakery proper, around? A plain and a lemon and/or a blueberry is a nice selection. Half-slices, or full, sprinkled with powedered sugar and individually-wrapped, as in by you - if you want to dress it up you could buy the colored cellophane wrap, even if it leaves the carbon footprint of a Yeti. Or, if you bake, you could make the same thing starting with a plain base and adding flavors/ingredients to diversify it a little? Best to your friend.

          3 Replies
            1. re: mamachef

              I like this idea. I've seen tiny loaf shape paper baking molds, the type used by bakeries. Maybe you can use those or make individual tiny poundcakes in a silicone pan. Wrap in cellophane and set in a pretty basket.

              1. re: mamachef

                It may well be that the staff won't tell you about any dietary restrictions, due to it technically being protected health information. The patient would have to consent to your being given that list. I'm just saying, if you get the third degree, that's why.

              2. I was in the hospital last year and received a basket of gourmet cookies, individually wrapped. They lasted quite a while, and I gave them to nurses and visitors now and then.

                1. Food gifts can be a problem in a hospital setting as mentioned previously. That said hospital staff and docs love to find goodies. Economy Candy (NYC) has a website and you can always send a basket of wrapped penny candy items for hospital staff. Never go stale, inexpensive and fun.
                  As for your friend flowers or plants are always more safe. Something green is always soothing.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: meinNYC

                    Mmmm. Here, we'd have to disagree, meinNYC. Flowers and plants are sometimes disallowed in the presence of patients being treated for certain illnesses. They can even be a hazard to the patient and other people on the floor. So that needs to be checked as well.

                  2. How about those individually wrapped prunes they're selling lately, bet that would make the staff happy! (sorry I couldn't help it)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                      Might make things easier for the patient too...
                      Anesthesia, medications and procedures can be disruptive on a number of levels.

                    2. Individually wrapped portions are safest and easily shared. Dried fruits, nuts, sweets, protein bars, mini packets of mints or gum, hard candies. Little juice boxes or mini water bottles are handy for visitors too.

                      For cheering up a room a balloon bouquet is nice. They are customizable, colorful, the movement is interesting when you are in a drugged stupor (for me anyways) and they avoid the issues related to plants/flowers.

                      1. Such good intentions DaisyM but may I offer some practical/ real experience advice?
                        There is no space for a food gift to be left out in a hospital room no matter what it is. The tray that your meals are placed on are just large enough to hold your food tray and the side table is usually littered with a box of tissues, water, cups, toothpaste and other stuff you need easy access to. Plus when you are a patient you generally feel like crap and in no mood to be offering food to visitors or staff.
                        So, if you really want to give a gift to be shared w/the nursing staff, maybe send something w/a note saying that this food gift is meant for you to share with your medical team and expect it to be placed out at the nurse station.

                        Best gifts I received when I was hospitalized for a few weeks were Sudoku puzle books, pens, Folger coffee bags (they kept giving me caffein-free coffee and there was no way I was going to get better on that crap), underwear and visits & calls from my family and friends.

                        1. My mother spent 5 weeks in the rehab ward at one of our local hospitals a while back. We kept her and the staff in assorted See's Lollipops during that time. They were a big hit with everyone(we know keep a bowl full of them in her assisted living apt as well for her and staff to share).


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ziggylu

                            Thanks for all advice. Family member won't have dietary restrictions. I'm going to have a gift just for the staff's breakroom. And for the patient, I'm liking the idea of the individually wrapped brownies or wrapped penny candy. If you haven't been to Economy Candy in NY....you must make a stop. You truly will feel like a kid again.


                          2. Dear Daisy~

                            As a healthcare worker for 30+ years, let me assure you that anything you bring, anything at all, will be greatly appreciated and your platter will probably be clean and you can take it home with you by the time you finish saying your howdy-doos! Thanks for thinking of us!


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: khintx

                              Thank you! My husband is a physician and I know how important ALL of the staff is. They will surely deserve special thanks for dealing with my family!