Ask my readers: What to bring to the doctor’s office?

Apr 04

So.  If you had a 10am appointment with your favorite oncologist tomorrow morning, what would you bring as a casual yet fantastic gift for Dr. Wonderful and/or his staff?  (I’m trying to think beyond baked goods and getting nowhere.)

Or, if you work in the medical field, is there anything that patients bring in that touches you in more than a sugar high kinda way?

Leave me a message/idea in the comments; I’ll be taking notes for tomorrow’s appointment and also for my (many) upcoming visits.  (I’ve always been a procrastinator.  Sigh.)


*Update:  This morning, I wrote a card to Dr. Wonderful, included a photo of my girls, and printed and enclosed 5 of my blog entries that “feature” him.  I also dropped off cards/blogs for Dr. Awesome and her receptionist.  I *love* the ideas you posted.  My favorite tangible gift idea is the “Gift Card Bouquet”: 20+ $5 gift cards for the staff (it’s a busy office!).  I will do that one this month for sure!  Also, any time I receive a $5 gift card in the coming months, I’m going to set it aside for my medical team.  Thanks for the ideas and definitely keep them coming.


  1. I know it is food but…. if you are into Pinterest, I just saw Peeps sushi where you make “sushi” using marshmallow treats for the “rice” and peeps in the middle with fruit roll up strips for the wrap. Yes, the sugar rush is there, but how cute on a tray with chop sticks?

    As to non-food/sugar…. do they have a picture board anywhere? I envision you dancing (per your post) in all your joyful glory or cuddled with your family. A smile for all to see your spirit, and an inspiration to others.

    I am limited in the creativity department, but will ask my daughter, Chelsea, who seems to have enough for two.

  2. Jennifer /

    Flowers for your doc’s desk, or a desk in the front office, etc. If your doc is a female–some fun notecards/stationary, and/or a delicious-smelling bar of soap/lotion. Chocolate-covered almonds, or chocolate-covered espresso beans. And, of course a short note expressing gratitude is appreciated most. Sounds cliche, but true. I am a pediatrician and as with other fields, in medicine you hear when people are unhappy, but not a lot when they are just plain thankful. Praying for you, Jen, and your recovery. Love your spirit! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Shell Powell /

    Darling, what else? Grog! xxx

  4. I admit, I have a hard time thinking beyond baked goods. I delivered this pumpkin chocolate chip bread to my midwife at my postpartum check:
    It’s really yummy and so good. Can be made as banana chocolate chip bread as well. I’m also giving a lot of thought towards adapting it as a banana chocolate bacon bread as well. Yum…bacon.

  5. Sarah /

    I am a veterinarian, so the furry kind of medical, and while I always love food/sugary treats, what means the most are notes of appreciation. Heartfelt, handwritten words of thanks cannot be topped. You are an amazing writer, so that should be easy 🙂

    I pray for your continued healing!

  6. Jen-
    (I thought I just sent you a comment, but it vanished. weird. I will try to recreate its humor) 🙂
    so you are a procrastinator too, eh? I knew we were meant to be friends. I was the “oh shoot! my science fair project is due tomorrow’ kid and now…i’m just older. I will be thinking/praying for future appointments, but I think you can’t go wrong with handwritten notes. place their names in Scripture and pray it over them. But, if you are still getting to know them and don’t want to go full “Jesus freak” 🙂 on them yet, then I think you could be super creative with snacky foods. They last longer than just a meal…spreading the joy for longer! Like, buy a pack of Dum-Dums and attach a note “Anyone who goes to any other oncologist is just a…” or Smarties that say “Please eat one package of these before each of my appointments” 🙂 Or Take 5 bars…”You deserve it!” or…hmmm…Butterfinger with “don’t be one of these on surgery day” (too much??) or…stuff like that. my tiiiiired brain can’t think of any more candy yet, but if you go to the aisle, you may be inspired. 🙂 Enjoy blessing these people who bless you! Oh! fresh flowers are nice too! In small vases that can be spread all around. Who doesn’t love flowers? Maybe attach notes of encouragement to ALL who read them. Ok, that’s it, I’m out. Praying for you new friend…(in fact, we talked about your strength of faith today at Bible study because two of us are reading your blog!!) Sola Deo Gloria!!!!!!!

  7. darcychildress /

    When our daughter was in the NICU we took bagels and coffee every Friday and you would have thought we were passing out winning lottery tickets. Your thoughtfulness is what will mean the most, no matter what you do they’ll love it. Praying for you and your family – xo

  8. Jodi /

    I am a medical researcher and the thing that patients bring most is baked goods/sugary treats, which are definitely always appreciated, but I was also thinking perhaps a nice picture of your girls, so they can see the personal side of what their efforts mean to you.

    If that is not as casual as you were going for, if they are anything like those in my lab, caffeine-based products are also always a hit! 🙂

  9. If you are a coffee or tea drinker, you know how special it is to choose your favorite mug (which reminds you of the gift giver) from the cupboard before sipping on that beverage you plan your day around…. that’s how I drink my coffee and tea anyway:)

  10. ps. I like to shop on etsy for meaningful gifts:)

  11. banana bread, hot cross buns (popular this time of year), buskin bakery sugar cookies

  12. Lisa /

    Basket of individual snacks, like chips, pretzels, snack mix, nuts, etc. Caramel corn or popcorn with a note that says ” Just popping in to say Hi or thanks or you are wonderul…etc.” My mechanic does this with microwave popcorn, they leave it on the seat with a note about “thanks for popping in” and they wash your car and vacuum it too!
    You could do the fruit bouquet thing. Love those.
    Prayers continue from IA!

  13. Shannon Weiss /

    Cute, simple and good price!

    Definitely look on Etsy-they have everything!

  14. Lisa /

    I like to bring books for my doctor’s children. Also, I think drawings made by your children for your doctor is a sweet and thoughtful gift. Nurses at the hospital told me that small chocolate treats were always appreciated.

  15. Forb /

    Breakfast burritos!!!! I love, love, love those things mid morning! Makes my day when the students bring them in. And no, not the ones from Taco Bell!!! Call a real Mexican restaurant!

    There’s also poems out there that involve candy bar names…you would insert the actual candy when the word/phrase is used. Cute, but takes time to search for candy bars you would need.

  16. Kristi /

    I am an oncology RN, and we’ve had patients bring the large cartons of coffee from Starbucks along with various creamers. MUCH appreciated!! My favorite things from patients are always handwritten notes of appreciation, though. I have kept every one. Praying for you on your journey!!

  17. Adrienne /

    In the winter our hands get really dry from washing theme all the time- So small bottles of hand lotion are nice- and nurses and physicians can keep them in their pockets!

  18. Heather rose /

    I have a couple thoughts. First I think a coPy of yOur blog would be very touching for them to read followed with ( this would be for future gift) a tshirt made up wih their title you have given them. Dr. Wonderful etc. you can go to and design tshirts/ long sleeve
    Shirts etc. or other items like mugs or mailing stamps. I have used it a lot f

    • Heather rose /

      Birthday and Christmas gifts for my parents using pictures of grand kids and they love it.

      • Kristin /

        Love this idea. Thinking of you, as well, on your journey Heather!! LOVE WINS.

  19. This will show my geek side but the teacher in me loves office supplies: pretty pens, sticky notes, paper clips,..
    Professionals can always use these.put them in a pretty basket so they can take the supplies as they need them.
    Thinking of you – from one mom to another

  20. Sue Nitz /

    Hi Jen. I took a pot of tulips and added gift cards on sticks. You can add notes or pictures of the kids. Find a photo of them and cut out their body and put it on a stick. I also used the same idea for another group and used candy. I put Life Savers coming out the middle. I have a silhouette machine that cuts shapes and I made these cute little boxes with hearts on them and filled them with life savers, candy kisses, starburst. If you need help call me. 513-312-6021.

  21. Mojra L /

    Hi, Jen!
    I am a NICU nurse, and from my experience- yes, treats are so greatly appreciated and enjoyed! But we keep and make scrapbooks out of the heart-felt letters and photos our families send us. Maren could draw a picture for them of things she loves to do with you.

  22. Megan McIntyre /

    I’m a nurse practitioner…and I agree, kind words are what last forever. Pictures are nice, too. Many practitioners hang letters and pictures in their offices to keep them going when things get tough. I’m quite certain that your appreciation has not gone unnoticed!

  23. corrie /

    Maybe pizza or a deli tray brought in at lunchtime?

    Or, I know this is not exactly the same occasion, but I recently lost my dad, and people brought all kinds of food to my mom’s house — including lots of baked goods. But one of the food deliveries stuck out as particularly thoughtful — it was a collection of healthy snack items, like light Babybel cheeses, trail mix, pita chips and hummus, fruit. I know that can be tricky because some of it needs to be refrigerated, but it was wonderful to have something quick and easy to grab for a few bites, without feeling like we were loading up on more sugar.

    Other than food items, I think there are rules in doctors’ offices and hospitals about accepting material gifts, so if you are condidering a non-food gift (other than a note or photos), you might want to check first. I’m sure a heartfelt note would be much appreciated. But I also think donuts would be appreciated, even if it’s not so creative!

  24. Starbucks! Either gift cards or a crate of lattes;) OR, you can get a “portable pot” (it’s a box full of coffee w a tap) for $12….grab some donuts or bagels and you’re set!

  25. attagirl /

    I work in a veterinary hospital…we get home baked goodies,candy and wonderful notes which are always appreciated. But,the one gift that stands out is the time 4 extra large pizzas were delivered for lunch…we were warned in advance not to bring our lunches on that day.

  26. Maureen Mulrooney /

    Hi Jen! We’ve been praying for you and are so excited for such great news!! As far as gift ideas…Neil’s most favorite gifts from his patients parents are hand written notes with photos of appreciation-they often will bring tears to his eyes and he saves them-easy to save/store. Sometimes the most simple/least expensive/heart felt can be the best. And baked goods are always great-we’d always get excited at work when someone brought in treats–brightens up the day! Neil also was given a t-hirt once that said “Team L—” that was given to the babies health care team-he still has that too!

  27. Susan /

    When I was working as a nurse, bagels and coffee were always a hit. Then came the rules and regulations about not eating/drinking while you’re working. (You can see the reason why with what you’re dealing with as a nurse…) I would say that you shouldn’t feel that you have to bring in something each week. An occasional special note would be greatly appreciated. Some places even have boards where they post those notes. Just be your happy, prayerful self and that, in and of itself, is a great gift to a nurse or doctor.
    Praying for you!

  28. Maybe a basket of healthy snacks. I think so many offices in general always get junk food or pastries, but everyone appreciates fun healthy snacks. 🙂

  29. Does your doctor know you call him or her “Dr. Wonderful”? Maybe something . . . like a t-shirt . . . with that screen printed on it would be fun?

  30. Allison /

    Panera/Bruegger’s Bagels or Starbucks gift cards. Can do $25-50 for doc and $10 for staff. Put them in a personal card. Very thoughtful of you!

  31. Christina /

    My husband works in a clinic and often the thing that gets the most notice is the note to the Hospital Administration about your experience. So often comment cards are filled with the disappointments, it is really nice to hear when care is appreciated.

    As a side note: I appreciate your blogging your experience; it is a lovely window to your soul.

  32. elle /

    Is this the one who wore the surgical cap to support a patient? what about a surgical cap, maybe have one custom made that says thank you, or something to encourage her? it won’t be ready for this visit, so this visit you could send a note, or have your daughters draw a picture?

  33. Mimi Galgano /

    Bring a handwritten note and original artwork from Marin.

    Maryann’s Mom

  34. Dave Schreier /

    Praying for you this morning Jen. I have enjoyed some time in Psalms 23. Until this cancer is gone, I will never cease praying for you and your family . Much love from the Schreier’s.

  35. Doris /

    I think Heather Rose has a great idea about using your blog. What if you combined your writings about your experience with some photos in a photo book through Snapfish or Shutterfly or Picaboo or other similar company? Look for deals for these companies online – they even sometimes offer free photo books to new customers. You could order a copy for the doctor and one for yourself. I’m sure it would be an inspiration to all who read it.

    Prayers for your continued strength and courage and healing. You have inspired me!

  36. Just Me /

    Name a star after her/him! A two-second Google search found at least two sites that would let you do this. Oddly, the cheaper one ($14.95) looked better to me. Imagine future generations looking up at the night sky saying “Look up there, Honey. That’s Dr. Wonderful. Doesn’t it shine brightly? Did I ever tell you how God, Dr. W and your grandma worked together to kick cancer?” Too dorky?

  37. You have an unbelievable way with words. What if you wrote a note about what the doctor means to you. Having been a teacher, nothing meant more to me than notes from the parents. I can tell you about all the special words they shared but can remember few gifts I received.

  38. Lora Troyer /

    I join the force of people praying for you, Jen. Thanks for writing and letting us all be on this journey with you. I’m being changed by what you’re going through as I live it through your eyes and heart. Not fair that you’re the one blessing me, should be the other way around! So here is one small way I can bless you, let me provide a free 31 gift you can personalize and give to the staff. Couple ideas…a Picnic Thermal Tote that says something like “Dr. Wonderful’s Day Off” and is filled with some picnic fare or gear; the “Celebrate Card Set” of 31 adorable multi-purpose greeting cards- use some to write notes to the staff members and divide up what’s left of the blank ones and give each person a few blank cards along with your note and tell them it’s so they can touch more lives with their kindness as they have touched yours; Wristlet Key Fobs- hand them out to the staff with a little note tied onto the key ring that says something like “thanks for being the “key” to my success in fighting this battle”…I’d love to bless you and those taking care of you by providing any of these things (or other 31 gift ideas you might have) so let me know if you’re interested! Love and prayers to ya girl.

  39. Crockpot of soup and paper bowls. Nothing says thanks like lunch provided.

  40. Laurie Volpano /

    Hi Jen, I think it’s great that you’re willing to show your appreciation so early in the process, and I think anything you do will not go un-noticed. Something we like to do (to get the kids involved as well) is to paint terra cotta pots and then plant flowers in them. One favorite that would even get Greta involved is to do red thumb prints all over the pot and make them into ladybugs using a fine tip black Sharpie (line down the middle, some dots on either side, and curly antanae out the top). Or thumb prints are great for making flowers and all sorts of other shapes as well. Just make sure you don’t use a water-based paint (like a Tempra paint) because the water absorbed through the pot, or any rain, will slowly erase all of their beautiful artwork. Good luck finding the perfect gift ideas, and thanks for being such an inspiration! – Laurie

  41. I was driving around town today, thinking of this blog post. We don’t know each other, I found your blog by way of another blog. I am amazed by your JOYFULNESS and it has been an encouragement to my daily life. I see the time spent with my husband and 1 year old son as precious and with fresh eyes after having read some of the thoughts you’ve shared. Thank you for encouraging me as a wife and mom. God uses people for His glory and He is using you and your cancer battle in mighty ways. God is holy and God is good, even when I wonder “why” He never changes and remains faithful.

    Back to the point… I was thinking about this as I was running errands earlier today…you could do a donation in their name to “loans that change lives” or another organization you’d prefer. Just a random thought…

    Praying expenctantly for total healing, to a God who is able. Much love,

  42. Erin Davig /

    Where can I send you $5 gift cards? 🙂 You are amazing and make me realize I need to laugh more with my kids! Extra love and GRACE to you this Easter weekend- oh we have that HOPE – thank you God!

  43. Suzanne /

    How about something to spice up their coffee area? Some new matching mugs, nice tea, a tea towel, coffee, real cream, etc.

  44. Jaime Rice Denning /

    Jen – one of my patients recently brought me a box of Girl Scout “thank you” cookies. First of all, any food is always appreciated and the extra thoughtfulness of these particular cookies made me smile all day. 🙂 Your blogs make me smile too. Oh, and I’ve put you in the Children’s Hospital prayer request circuit via our chaplains too…thinking of you often! -Jaime