How to Help: Gift Ideas for the Holidays and Beyond
Last Reviewed: November 18, 2019
Giving gifts: of time, of listening and yes, of gift cards, can help a person with cancer and their families cope with their treatment. Here are some gift ideas:
Just being present is a present!
- Short visits – Cancer treatment can be exhausting for patients! Be mindful of the length of time you spend visiting. The quality of the visit if more important than how long you stay! If they say they aren’t up for a visit, don’t.
- Emails/text messages - But don't expect responses - that can make it more work for the person. But let them know you are thinking about them and send a joke.
- Letters and cards - Tell them how important they are to you, that you love them and things you are hopeful for in the future.
- Phone calls - Just hearing the voice of a friend or family member can make someone's day. Don't expect a marathon phone call, but just reach out and say "hello."
- Tell them you understand if they can't visit or do something you had planned. Video calls-through Facetime or Skype can also be a great way to connect, regardless of the miles between you!
Gifts of Time
- Treat your friend and/or their caregivers to lunch, coffee or a movie.
- Go on a nature walk or an outing in town together.
- Take photos of their health care team and record them in a special memory book with quotes from friends, family, doctors, and nurses.
- Offer to be their “Help Manager".
- Commit to helping with daily chores. Make a "home-made" gift certificate or coupon for them to “redeem” when they are really needing some extra help around the house, but maybe don’t want to ask.
- Take out the trash/recycling – and remember to come back and put the cans away.
- Rake the leaves/shovel the snow.
- Do the laundry or ironing,
- Clean the house while they are at treatment. Apps like Handy can help you find local house cleaners. Cleaning for a Reason provides free housecleaning services to cancer patients in some areas.
- Provide meals. Be sure to ask about preferences/dietary restrictions for all family members. You can also coordinate friends and neighbors through websites/apps like Take them a Meal or Meal Train,
- Drive them to treatment or appointments. Stay with them and keep them company. Don’t drive or have a car? Get an Uber gift card and treat them to a ride or two.
- Provide care for kids or older parents/family members. Pay for a sitter—even if they are home—so they can rest. You can also hire help through websites like care.com
- Walk the dog. Change the kitty litter. Order pet supplies for home delivery. Rover and Wag can help you find pet sitters/walkers in your area.
- Help to maintain the volunteer work they were doing before they got sick by volunteering yourself. (Scouting, coaching, church groups, civic groups, school activities)
Give the Gift of Laughter
- Humorous Books
- Humorous videos: either buy a favorite or make one of your own. YouTube is packed with silly short videos good for a belly laugh.
- Joke Books
- Dart Board (Useful for taking out frustrations with insurance companies, healthcare team, or the disease itself!)
Other Gift Ideas
- Gift cards to purchase music or audiobooks (iTunes, Amazon.com, Audible).
- Tablets like IPADS, Kindle Fire or Samsung. Great for games, reading, music, movies and video calls.
- E-readers and gift cards to buy books. Be sure you know which reader they have so you get the right kind of gift card.
- Audible subscription. Provides recorded “books on tape.” This is great for folks who may have eye strain or fatigue that keeps them from reading.
- Some libraries have e-books preloaded on tablets that you can check out. Libraries also have downloadable e-book borrowing services.
- Netflix, AmazonPrime, Hulu or other streaming service subscription.
- Subscription to a mindfulness/meditation app. Try Headspace, Calm and Simple Habit (available on Itunes/android).
- Gift certificate for a grocery store - especially one that has home delivery service.
- Pre-paid gas cards - especially helpful for those going back and forth to treatment/doctor's visits.
- A small stuffed animal or toy. These are helpful for adults and children alike. It can be very comforting to hold during "downtime" in the hospital
- Hats, scarves, baseball caps- especially helpful for patients who have lost their hair due to treatment. Be mindful - Wool can be itchy! Stick to cotton and other breathable materials.
- Adaptive or hospital friendly clothing.
- Sugar-free hard candy or ginger candy is often welcomed as it often helps to take away the taste associated with certain medications and can help with nausea.
- Puzzle books such as crosswords and Sudoku.
- Personalize a mug or water bottle with photos of you and your friend/family member.
- Crafting supplies including scrapbooking materials, knitting/crochet supplies.
- A lightweight, wheeled suitcase for trips to the hospital.
- Slippers, robes and comfy pajamas.
- Money, gift cards. Almost everyone with cancer experiences some financial distress while going through treatment and beyond.
- Aromatherapy products. Lavender can help with relaxation and sleep. Ginger can help with nausea. Just remember, cancer treatment can change our sense of smell or make us more sensitive to smells. Try different scents/products.
- Make a donation to a special charity or organization in their name.
- Give them a journal to help them organize their thoughts and reflect on the experience.
- A photo album or scrapbook with inspiring words or words of encouragement from family and friends.
- A Bible or other sacred book.
- Inspirational verses