When someone’s ill, they don’t necessarily want a different kind of Christmas present than you’d usually buy them – but then again, they might. If they can’t get out much anymore, a cinema gift card is probably a waste of time, and a huge box of chocs is misguided if they’re trying to keep their blood sugar in check. While everyone has different needs, there are enough ideas in our list of life enhancers and practical gadgets to suit a range of tastes. Here are our best suggestions for buying for ill folks this Christmas.
15) Kindle Fire
Illness is boring, so portable entertainment is vital. The Kindle Fire is easier to hold than a book and the text size can be adjusted to avoid the need for squinting. If you set it up for someone and are feeling extra generous, you could also splash out on Amazon Prime so they can download films and TV shows to watch later. (What’s £79 between friends?) Alternatively, you could load it up with books you think they’ll love, or subscribe them to Netflix or Audible if they’re not already signed up. It’s out of stock at Amazon right now but John Lewis has it for £49.95 with a two year guarantee.
14) Toast Heated Pillow
Much cuter than a boring hot water bottle, and just as good at keeping you, er, toasty, this cute little cushion charges by USB and stays warm for up to four hours. Would be ideal for anyone with a bad back, periods from Hades, or who always feels the cold. Bonus: it’s guaranteed gluten free. Pick it up for £29.99 from Firebox.
13) Trill Seasons Winter Box
There are lots of boxes and hampers on sale at this time of year, but Trill Farm’s Winter Box is a rare treat. It’s filled with goodies made from natural, wild-harvested ingredients – perfect for someone who’s had a rough year yet doesn’t want to stuff their face with After Eights. It includes plum chutney, raw chocolate, and preserved sloes as well as organic beauty products like soap and facial oil. It costs £75, and you’ll need to place your order via their website by 14 December.
12) Magazine subscription
The kind of indulgence most of us enjoy but few of us would think to buy for ourselves. WH Smith sells magazine gift subscriptions for everything from Grazia to Good Housekeeping. Prices vary, but expect to pay around £30.
11) Luxe bedding
If someone you love is spending a lot of time in bed, it’s a good idea to make it as cosy and comforting as you can. John Lewis sells 400 thread count Egyptian cotton bedding, starting at £20, as well as the faux fur throw pictured (£80) and silk pillowcases (£35) which not only feel super soft but can help regulate body temperature. Spectrum’s Jellybean throw is a splurge at £110 from the Royal Academy shop but it’s basically a rainbow in blanket form.
10) Lit decorative tree
When you’re ill, the last thing you feel like doing is hauling an artificial tree out of the attic and attempting to put it together – or worse, vacuuming pine needles out of the carpet. Not to mention some people with weaker immune systems are allergic to artificial trees, others to real ones. This pre-lit, pre-decorated tree literally has a lot of charm(s) and is £29.50 from Marks and Spencer. At 50cm, it’s petite enough to sit on a bedside table or could light up the corner of a room and is unlikely to provoke sneezes, just cosy feelings.
9) Shea butter hand cream
Hand cream is a small luxury that smells good, feels comforting, and of course, helps if your hands are feeling dry thanks to medication or the effects of illness. Shea butter is known for being especially moisturising and L’Occitane’s (which also contains honey, sweet almond extract and jasmine) is a bestseller. Debenhams has 30ml for £8.
8) Wigz on Wheelz voucher
Many people who’ve lost their hair, whether from a health condition or chemotherapy, rely on wigs to help boost their confidence. Others are hesitant to go shopping for one, because they feel exposed and because good wigs don’t come cheap. Now you can give someone moral and financial support by buying them a voucher from Wigz on Wheelz, the UK’s only mobile hair care and wig fitting service. Prices start at £100 and vouchers can be used toward a consultation, wig, or styling guidance. Find out more via their website.
7) A tea garden
If they’re honest, most Brits would love to be tea magnates and now they can be, kind of. Nudo has a tea garden adoption scheme starting at £18. Pick out how many deliveries (between one and four) you want to gift and your friend or family member will be sent an adoption pack. They can then pick which garden they want their tea to come from, and it will be delivered when it’s ready. Or you can just buy a tea infusion for £5 and give it to them ASAP.
6) Kanguru throw
Basically a posh slanket, this throw is perfect for relaxing on the sofa, or in bed for people who really feel the cold. Because it has sleeves, it’s warmer and more cosy than a blanket, and there’s even a front pouch for your phone, remote control, or joey. It’s machine washable and costs £22.99 from Lakeland.
5) Bird feeder(s)
Birds are basically nature’s TV (and more entertaining than the average EastEnders). Waitrose has a great selection of feeders including an all-weather porcelain one that’s shaped like a bird for £12.99. For the same price, there’s also one you can stick against a window for up-close avian drama.
4) HelloFresh gift card
Hello Fresh is a nationwide service that delivers fresh ingredients and step-by-step instructions so you can make a meal in 30 minutes or less. Recipes are created by chefs and always changing but include meals like chicken jambalaya and leek and pea risotto. Buy a gift card and a friend or family member can have a box delivered so they don’t have to stress about shopping. Prices start from £42 for three meals for two people and if you’re a real pal you’ll help with the cooking and washing up as well.
3) Sound Asleep iMusic Pillow
This pillow comes with a built in speaker that plugs into a phone or iPod, making it a great option for someone who likes to listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts in bed, especially if they find headphones uncomfortable. It can help shut out hospital noise without disturbing the person in the next bed and the background noise is helpful for tinnitus and insomnia according to Prezzybox who sell it for £14.95.
If you’ve got a little more to spend, Sleepphones (literally sleep headphones) are a godsend at £69.99.
2) Breville Hot Cup
The ideal gift for someone who has urgent tea or coffee needs but isn’t mobile or dextrous enough to be carrying kettles around. This handy machine boils water in under a minute with one push meaning tea, coffee, instant porridge, and pot noodles could easily be made sitting up in bed (although maybe not all at once). There are different models available, but the VKJ784 is currently on sale at Argos for £47.49.
1) A box of postcards
It can be hard to keep up with texts and tweets when you’re ill, and talking on the phone is enough of a chore at the best of times. Writing postcards feels more manageable and stops you from completely losing touch with people. Waterstones sells a huge range of boxes of cards including Postcards from Penguin (£14.99) each of which features a different iconic Penguin book cover. Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Postcard Box (£9.79), contains postcards you can colour in before you send. Add colouring pencils (WHSmith has a pack of 12 for £2.79) and you have a miniature art studio.
Main image – iStock/Lokibaho