3 Unexpected Places I've Gift Shopped in While Dealing With Chronic Health Conditions

I use the internet to do a lot of my shopping just because it’s much easier to shop in pajamas in the middle of the night than it is to get dressed and go deal with a super crowded, superstore. However, I also love the actual shopping experience of holding an item in my hands and saying to myself (or sometimes out loud), “This would be perfect for [someone].”

Since a big trip to a big store is usually out of the question for me, I’ve learned to find hidden treasures in unexpected places such as:

1. Hospital gift shops. These can be lots of fun for gift buying. Since I have to be at the hospital at least once a week for blood draws and/or medical appointments, it’s easy to plan a bit of extra time to make the stop at the gift shop. I have to admit I was a bit surprised to find it’s not all flower arrangements and stuffed animals. The gift shop at my hospital featured some lovely scarves and jewelry, as well as some very unique Christmas decorations. While some items can be expensive, most are reasonably priced, especially if the gift shop makes a point of selling items made by local artists and craftspeople. Be sure to check out the sales table.

2. Hospital pharmacies. Or any pharmacy for that matter, are great places to shop for those last-minute gift items. While you’re waiting for your scripts, take a look around at the small things that can make great stocking stuffers such as funky lip balms or quirky socks. Pharmacies also usually have full selections of sugar-free candies and cookies for those of your friends on special diets. And they have good selections of “sugar-full” candies and cookies, too!

3. Hospital cafeterias. Now don’t scream… most of the time the cafeteria serves better food than what ends up on the tray in your hospital room. I found a selection of the most delicious gluten-free snickerdoodle and sugar cookies hiding in a corner of the cafeteria and I can guarantee a few of them will be tucked away into holiday care packages. My hospital cafeteria also has a nice selection of fancy chocolate bars that are very reasonably priced.

A big reason I’ve come to like shopping at my local hospital is that no one blinks an eye at my walker (the aisles are large enough to accommodate it, too) or makes not-so-subtle comments like, “well, she doesn’t look sick” when I have to sit down and rest during my shopping trips. That attitude is a gift beyond price. Happy Holidays!

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