3 Gifts that Aren’t Allowed in Hospitals – And What to Bring Instead

If you’re planning to bring a gift to a friend battling cancer, you might not know that some traditional gifts are discouraged - even against the rules - in hospitals. Read below to see what gifts may not be permitted, and what to bring instead.

Balloons: Latex or rubber balloons may not be allowed due to potential allergic reactions. Additionally, metallic or mylar balloons may not be allowed in the ICU since they may interfere with some types of medical equipment.

Instead: Think of other things that could brighten up a drab hospital room. A colorful blanket or a poster of the child’s favorite musician or sports star could add a cheerful splash of color while helping show the child’s personality.

Flowers or fruit baskets: In most hospitals, live flowers or fruit baskets are not allowed in patients’ rooms due to potential allergic reactions. Additionally, some cancer patients say that having lots of flowers in their rooms reminds them of funerals – not the effect most gift-givers are going for.

Instead: Silk or plastic floral arrangements are usually ok – just check to make sure they don’t contain decorative moss. Even better – bring colorful tissue paper and craft pipe cleaners to make crafty floral arrangements during your visit!

Stuffed animals or plush toys: In many hospitals or particular hospital rooms, stuffed or plushy toys are not encouraged because they can carry dust and pathogens. This can be a particular problem for children with compromised immune systems.

Instead: Bring a new game or a craft to occupy the child’s time. Board games, coloring books or brain teaser puzzles are all great ideas – they break up the boredom of being stuck at the hospital and give the child something fun to do with you and any other visitors.

Source: City of Hope

Want more tips on how to support families facing childhood cancer?

For more ideas and advice on how to support children fighting cancer and their families, download our guide Beyond "I'm Sorry": Supporting a Family Facing Cancer.