What to Bring & Say When Visiting a Sick Friend in Hospital

By Ali + Julie on 15 Nov 2022

It can be difficult to know what to say and what to bring when a friend or family member is in hospital. Here are a few gift ideas and some helpful advice for visiting a sick friend.

Should you bring a gift, and what's a good one?

No gifts to ICU

Wait until they’re feeling better and in a regular room and then bring your gift.

A card from the whole gang

Nothing brings cheer more than words of love from friends and family. Let everyone sign the card and chip in for a gift all-in-one with GroupTogether.

Consider gifting a plant rather than flowers

Flowers take up the limited space in the room, they die a little bit each day and are hard to transport home. Save the flowers being delivered to celebrate your friend’s homecoming.

iPad and Netflix subscription

Gifts that help fight boredom but don’t tax the brain are usually the most welcomed. Use GroupTogether to chip in for an iPad (from $300 for a mini). Check if the hospital has WiFi access. Otherwise, get one with cellular. If they already have one, chip in for a 12-month Netflix subscription or whichever platform they don't have.

Magazines and moisturiser

Fill a basket with magazines, a novel, an inspirational book, hand lotion, nice lip balm, fun socks (feet often get cold when you’re ill), notecards, a journal, colourful pens, etc. Check out Pinterest boards for inspiration or walk the aisles of Kmart.

Food (that’s allowed)

Ask about your friend’s hospital diet. Bring a favourite dish from a restaurant, a snack they’re craving, or something homemade. Consider a healthy option like dried fruit or a fruit basket for friends who are weight conscious.

PJs, slippers, and robes

Fresh PJs that are comfy and look nice – Peter Alexander for young people. Consider stylish slippers but make sure they aren’t slippery. A 100% cotton robe would make anyone feel valued and pampered. David Jones sells cotton robes like the one below.

Things to lift their spirits each day

Make a series of envelopes to open when they need some cheer. Inside each enclose something nice – a quote, a note, some memories you share, a photo, a gourmet-wrapped chocolate, unique tea bags, a drawing, a cartoon, or a prayer. Check out Pinterest for inspiration.


No time to make your own? Call a company to package and send it beautifully. Make sure it's a specialty pamper hamper though and take the extra time to write a heartfelt message.

Should I visit and how long should I stay?

  • Check before you come: Never show up at the hospital unannounced.
  • Ask a family member to ask when would be a good time to visit. When a day and time are set, call before to see if they are still up for your visit.
  • Stay 20 minutes - cut your visit short if he or she seems tired or in pain. Stay longer if they’re bored out of their mind. Be 100% there for them.
  • Don’t look at your phone.
  • Don’t wear much perfume. People can be extra sensitive to scents when ill.
  • Wash your hands and explain what you’re doing so they don’t think you’re afraid of touching them. “Nick, let me wash my hands at your sink. Then I’m going to give you a big hug!"
  • Go out when a nurse or doctor arrives. Say “Excuse me, Nick. Take your time. I’m going to be in the hall.”

What should I say?

  • Be a listening ear, comforting the person, and sharing the warmth of friendship. That’s usually best done by doing very little talking and a lot of listening.
  • Share news about people you both know.
  • Talk about TV, movies, books, or current events.
  • Come to the hospital with a mental list of three or four topics to help talk about.
  • Make plans with the person – something to look forward to.
  • In your conversations, you don’t need to pretend all is well, but you don’t want to be Debbie Downer. Keep it light, but if they bring up the hard stuff, listen, pray with them, and talk about what they want to talk about.
  • Always leave on a high note.

Bring a gift and card from everyone

Brighten your friend's day with a gift and card from the whole gang. It's easy to organise a group gift with GroupTogether, and they'll love their card with messages from everyone.

Ali Julie Square

Ali + Julie

Co-Founders, GroupTogether

Life’s busy. That’s why we’re here to make it easy for you to collect money from a group. Less wasted time, less packaging waste, and spending a little less but giving a lot better!

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