The most popular post on the Healing Whole blog is Unique Gifts for Hospital Patients. With Halloween in just a few weeks, I thought it might be fun and helpful to provide some Halloween gift ideas for those who are in the hospital, under going chemotherapy or other treatment or home bound.
Keep in mind the following:
• People who are alone a great deal of the day, enjoy the visit as much as anything. Bringing something that you can do together is an extra bonus, which you can both enjoy.
• Laughter is the best medicine, so under do the scary and create fun “tricks and treats” that bring a smile.
• In selecting items, and lots of ideas are listed below, consider the age of the person, special needs such as dietary restrictions, allergies etc. If you have a question about hospital rules (some units don’t allow flowers) or allergies, ask in advance.
• We do best when we help others, so providing items that can be enjoyed by roommates, hospital personal and other visitors gives an added boost.
Costumes aren’t just for the staff: Hospital staff will often wear something to brighten the mood on Halloween. It could be a special Halloween themed scrub, tie or a full blown costume. Here are some gift ideas to let the person in the bed enjoy in the fun:
• Plastic spiders, bugs or vampire teeth. Make sure they are well cleaned. Shortly before the doctor or nurse is coming to exam them, slip the spider on the tongue or put the teeth in the mouth. Imagine the surprise when the doctor instructs the patient to say “ahhh.”
• Costume make-up is in ample supply at this time of year at just about every store in town. Pick some up and have fun creating fake scars or whatever else strikes the person’s fancy. Be sure check to see if the person has allergies before applying. Also check for ease of removal, as the hospital’s linen service isn’t going to appreciate black marks that wont come out.
• Masks: There are plenty of fun masks to purchase that are easy to wear and will draw a great response from those that see it.. If the person is crafty and bored, bring them a variety of items so they can make a mask for themselves and others in the hospital. Check out your local Dollar Store for packets of cheap half masks. Pick up a variety of items that they can glue onto the mask, such as leaves, feathers, beads, fake jewels, plastic spiders (look in the kid section) etc. Be sure to include glue, scissors, markers, and a variety of interesting paper.
• Red nose, funny glasses, fake mustaches, arm tattoo sleeves or other items that can slipped on and off with ease.
• Temporary tattoos can be easily applied and come off with soap and water.
Funkin Carving: Just because they are in the hospital doesn’t mean they need to miss out on the pumpkin carving fun. Artificial carvable pumpkins are available at many stores including places like Jo-Ann Fabrics, A. C. Moore and Michaels. Some of the Dollar Stores offer small foam pumpkins that you can carve. You can also order them on-line. Be sure to include pumpkin carving tools and patterns as part of this gift along with a battery powered candle for the completed project.
Craft Kits: For the person that likes to work with beads, a bunch of purple, black, yellow, red and orange beads, along with memory wire or pin backs, can keep them amused for hours. Plus they have nice gifts for visitors and hospital staff.
While a trip to your local Dollar or craft store will offer a variety of craft kits, check out some of the following sites for ideas that you can make yourself or order:
Books: Having someone read aloud to me when I’ve been sick, even as an adult, is wonderful. One Halloween, when I was violently ill while pregnant with my oldest son, my husband read me short stories of Edgar Alan Poe. It certainly kept my mind off of how sick I felt. Many of the books listed below have a film versions, so it could be fun to read the book and then another day watch the film version.
• Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The October Country or The Homecoming
• Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
• Anything by Edgar Alan Poe
• Robert Louis Stevenson “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”
• Roald Dahl “The Witches”
• Anne Rice “Interview with a Vampire
• Most of Stephen King (Love his writing, but he scares me no end)
• Agatha Christie “Halloween Party”
Movies: If they have a lap top with them, or have access to a DVD player, either rent, Netflick or purchase Halloween themed movies. Bring the popcorn, some boxed movie candy (if they can have it) and spend a few hours sharing some Halloween fun. While there are lots and lots of scary movies, some more appropriate for viewing in a hospital (roommates might not appreciates being scared) than others, below are some suggestions that you might not immediately think of:
• Arsenic and Old Lace
• Harry Potter series (many contain Halloween scenes at Hogwarts)
• The original horror films of “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “The Mummy,” “Wolf Man,”
• The series of Abbott and Costello “Meets” films: Frankenstein,; the Killer, Boris Karloff; the Invisible Man; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; The Mummy;
• It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
• Mel Brook’s “Young Frankenstein”
• “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Little Shop of Horrors” combine music and comedy.
• Ghostbusters 1 and 2
• The Simpson’s Tree House of Horrors series
Music: Nothing sets the scene like music. The stores are loaded with all sorts of Halloween music on CD’s and of course you can download from iTunes. However, Spooky Soundtrack offers sound effects, music and even scary stories for free. Pandora has four stations including Halloween Party, Family Halloween, Spooky Symphonies, and Ghostly Groves. So use your smart phone or lap top to set the mood.
Trick of Treat: Even though they may be in the hospital, you can set up a trick or treat bowl or box so that visitors and staff alike can collect a treat when they stop by. Since there is a lot of candy around, consider Halloween items, which people can wear. Such items include:
• plastic spider, skull or pumpkin rings, necklaces, or pendants,
• temporary tattoos,
• glow necklaces and bracelets
• plastic straws
• vampire teeth
The Dollar Store is a great place to pick up a package that includes a number of items that come in multiples. If you have the time, individually wrapping them, will add another level of fun and enjoyment.
Decorations: Again the Dollar Store is a great place to purchase inexpensive items to brighten someone’s room. Keep in mind that at no time should a decorative item block access to the patient. Over head items that dangle over the patient aren’t going to be appreciated by a staff member, if a spider is tickling their neck while trying to take a blood pressure Be sure to place items where the patient looks a lot of the time. A fun wreath on the door sends a note to staff and visitors alike that this is a patient who has a sense of fun. Even though the individual might not be feeling that way all the time, it’s a good conversation starter.