Last-minute gift ideas for nurses!


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Okay, people: There’s, like, one-eighth of a shopping day left before Christmas, or it’s the last day of Hanukkah, and you haven’t gotten a gift for the nurse on your list. What to do? What to do?

Here, free of my usual sarcasm, are some ideas. Note to anybody who knows me: I would be pleased to receive any of these at any time. Thank you in advance.

Last-minute gift ideas for nurses!

If you have tons of money
Get your favorite nurse a massage. Make it two hours long. No kidding; my massage therapist says she can’t do anything worthwhile with a nurse’s back in an hour. Cheaper alternative: A foot-massage ball (you can get ’em for $5 at sports supply stores), a couple of hot packs and an ice bag.

How about a custom-fitted pair of new shoes?
The best professional move I ever made was to go to one of those fancy shoe stores that specializes in weird foot problems and get professional advice on my dogs. I haven’t had a day of pain since.

Speaking of feet, pedicures are a good idea.
And yes, guy nurses can get pedicures, too. A foot massage and some callus reduction are nice, no matter your gender.

If you’re going to get a gift certificate for scrubs, go big or go home. Scrubs are expensive.

Is the person you want to spend money on a soon-to-graduate nurse?
Get a custom RN pin made for their pinning ceremony, or buy vintage. Etsy has craftspeople who work in practically any material you can imagine and would be thrilled by a custom order.

If you have less money but still really love the person
Socks! A dozen pairs, all the same color and type, can really simplify dressing in the morning.

How about a go-bag for that nurse who works unpredictable hours?
Get a solid toiletries bag or dopp kit, and fill it with things like a razor, shaving cream, deodorant, those little sanitary wipe things, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and maybe even a couple of protein bars.

Buy them a subscription to their favorite nursing magazine.
If they don’t have one, or a journal subscription is too much, may I suggest a little publication called Scrubs?

If they’re app people, get ’em some nursing apps.
I’m slowly crawling into the 20th century and don’t have a smartphone, so I can’t help you here.

It’s the night before the unit party and you can only spend $10
Trail mix, snack bars (not the cruddy kind that taste like plaster covered with chocolate), packs of almonds, a couple of cups-o’-soup, maybe some easy mac-and-cheese, all in a brown paper sack. Bonus: You get to eat what you don’t give them.

Odds and ends
Gum, candy, ibuprofen and Band-Aids, all in a little emergency kit. You could also do a couple of good pens, a nail file, some sticky notes and one of those ID holder sleeves with a clip-on ID holder attached. Put it all in a zipper bag (the kind you can get at the dollar store). Don’t forget a bar of chocolate. Maybe add a penlight if you can find one super cheap.

Favorite beverages
Some of those coffee machine pods (if you have one on your unit) or some tea bags, and a mug. If it won’t get you in trouble: two craft beers and a copy of Maxim (especially useful for departments where guys outnumber women).

Find out their interests
Do you know who you’re buying for? If the person likes knitting, buy an unusual size of needles for them. If they hike, get a couple of issues of outdoorsy magazines. Do they have a new puppy? Can’t go wrong with dog-themed magazines or calendars. Wrap in appropriate paper.

Enjoy your holiday parties! May your days be merry and bright, and your trauma surgery schedules light.

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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