20 gifts to give someone who can’t leave their home
Show them you're thinking about them
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Social isolation is difficult for most of us. Even the most introverted of introverts is bound to struggle with being cut off from the outside world, but if we’re lucky, we can manage that struggle by taking an occasional walk or by sitting on a porch. But what if you have a loved one who can’t leave the house at all? That’s a whole new struggle.
If you have someone in your life who’s sick, in quarantine, at high-risk, or completely isolated for any other reason, you probably want to do whatever you can to help them feel safe, loved, and entertained. We pulled together a collection of possible gifts to make your isolated love one’s life a little bit easier. Just because they’re in isolation doesn’t mean they have to feel alone.
1. Our favorite pre-made meal kit to make days of cooking at home a little more fun
Meal kits are popular for a reason. These super convenient subscription boxes deliver recipes, ingredients, and dishes straight to your door, making it easier to prepare gourmet meals that might otherwise feel inaccessible. Anyone who’s stuck at home has probably been doing a lot of additional home cooking lately, and these boxes are a great way to avoid getting in a rut with the same boring meals over and over again.
Even better? A meal kit that delivers pre-made dishes to the door. We tried the most popular pre-made meal kits and found that Freshly was the best. The dishes tasted like home-cooked meals (even though they were microwaved) and were large enough to provide our tester with the perfect portion size.
2. This super-popular audiobook subscription to keep even sick and sleepy minds engaged
When I got sick as a kid, my favorite thing to do was curl up under a soft blanket and listen to someone read to me. As an adult, that’s translated into a love for audiobooks. Audiobooks are perfect for when you’re feeling too gross to focus on reading, but awake enough to crave entertainment—basically, when you’re sick!
We love Audible, Amazon’s streaming audiobook service with a huge selection of novels, non-fiction, and experimental storytelling. A basic $14.95 membership includes one audiobook per month, plus two Audible originals, but there are plenty of plans to explore. Best of all, if you decide you don’t like an audiobook, you can return it for a full refund. Not sure if your loved one will appreciate Audible? You can start them with a 30-day free trial, including one complimentary book!
Here’s a tip: in addition to Audible, you might want to check out what audiobooks your local library offers through the Libby app. Unlike with Audible, you won’t be able to keep your audiobooks on Libby, but it’s still a great app to add to your entertainment rotation. Plus, it’s free!
3. A Nintendo Switch Lite, to make all the kids jealous
If you’ve been online at all in the past month, you know that people have gone nuts for the new Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s a cheaper alternative to the Nintendo Switch, designed for handheld play, and perfect for someone who is being forced to spend a lot of boring time inside on the couch. With games like Animal Crossing, you can even pay your friends virtual visits, making isolation just a little less isolated.
This is also a great option for people quarantined along with kids. We’ve compiled some of our favorite Switch games for kids, so families can share the fun.
4. A new plant friend or two, as a reminder that we’re all still living and growing
Some of us are lucky enough to have backyards where we can safely spend an afternoon, but not everyone can be in this situation. Being cut off from the outdoors can be really demoralizing and depressing. What to do when you have a loved one in this situation? Bring the outdoors to them!
The Sill might as well have been invented with quarantine in mind. It’s a delivery service where you can order gorgeous plants, marked explicitly with how easy they are to keep alive and how much sunlight they need. If you have a friend stuck inside a relatively dim third-floor apartment, they might have given up all hope of seeking solace from a plant companion. You can surprise them with a monthly subscription box full of easy-to-care-for potted plants! If that sounds like a bit much, you can also browse for individual plants, looking for ones that will fit any living situation.
5. Ultra-convenient grocery delivery services to makes life simpler
One of the most universal pain points of social isolation is managing grocery shopping. When you’re seriously quarantined, this becomes even harder. You can’t leave the house, but most grocery delivery services are busy, or unreliable, or charge exorbitant fees. Thankfully, by investing a little bit more, you can help resolve these issues.
Unlike delivery services offered by major grocery chains, Instacart Express lets you buy products from multiple stores in a single shopping spree. When you pay a monthly fee, all delivery costs are waived for grocery hauls over $35. For a person who can’t leave the house, this can be a lifesaver. It’s a thoughtful and practical gift, and with a low monthly rate, you can cancel the service whenever it’s no longer needed.
If your loved one is a meat-loving carnivore, consider shipping them a box of artisinal meat from a service like Crowd Cow. This makes a great gift for those who love buying from the butcher, but haven't been able to shop locally for the past few months.
6. Virtual games, board games, and puzzles
If you're spending lots of time at home, what more could you want than games to keep you entertained?
I love Jackbox. These deceptively simple games are super fun—I’ve spent hours playing them with family and friends both near and far. Jackbox offers plenty of party packs, but I’m suggesting the original because it includes my personal favorite: Drawful, a goofy, Pictionary-esque game that requires players to illustrate prompts on their phone screens, and see how well they can convey the idea.
These games are pretty straight-forward, and anyone with a cell phone can join. If you suspect your quarantined friend is getting sick of virtual happy hours, or attempting to watch Netflix over Zoom, mix things up with a silly, stress-relieving, social game.
If your loved one is more conventional, opt for a board game they can play on their own or with roommates, or a puzzle that only needs one person and a heap of determination to complete.
7. A high-quality lotion set for some stay-at-home pampering
It’s true what they say: after soap, the number one coronavirus essential is some decent lotion. No one wants to come out of quarantine with painfully chapped hands, but as someone with sensitive skin myself, I know it’s bound to happen. That is, unless you have access to some truly great lotion.
I am 100% onboard with the L’Occitane cult following. This is some of the best hand lotion I’ve tried in my life. Reviewer Nellamella agrees with me, writing, "I have eczema prone skin and the frequent hand washing caused my eczema to flare up. This little miracle set was able to soothe my eczema and provide lasting hydration.” Regardless of whether the quarantined person in your life has sensitize skin, this is great stuff, and will definitely make them feel loved and pampered.
8. An indoor herb garden to spice up the kitchen
The only thing that’s better than buying fresh herbs is growing them. Not only are you getting herbs that are literally as fresh as it’s possible for them to be, you’re also getting the chance to be self-sufficient—and yes, you’re avoiding going to the store for one more thing. An indoor herb garden can be really wonderful for someone who’s stuck inside. It’s always great to bring a little greenery into a space, but it can also feel nice just to take care of something. Life might be a blur, but at least there are three little plant babies depending on you!
Reviewer Matthew S. Gordon loves the kit, noting that it comes with literally everything you need to get planting. "The soil was packaged in these cool compressed discs (just add water),” he writes. “There was also a very helpful instruction sheet with everything you need to know to grow and maintain the herbs of your choice.” He goes on to mention how much he loves the smell of this set, leading to my final reason why this makes such a great quarantine gift: aromatherapy!
9. The gift of free laundry
Rinse offers a brilliant service: door-to-door laundry services, priced either by the month or by the pound. This is especially great for a person who doesn’t have laundry in their unit, but is no longer able to run to the laundromat themselves. With one gift card, you could guarantee that your loved one won’t be wearing the same Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt for the next month (no offense to their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt, but it does get kinda crusty after a while).
Getting your laundry done for free is basically a quarantine dream come true, but be sure to encourage the gift card recipient to be mindful. In the wake of COVID-19, Rinse has introduced no-contact services (what they call “Rinse Drop”). You can also directly text the employee picking up laundry to let them know about any additional precautions. Remind your loved one to be careful as they enjoy lounging in those clean sheets!
10. Our favorite weighted blanket for some serious rest
Here are Reviewed, we kind of have a thing for weighted blankets. Can you blame us? Being gently hugged by a massive blanket is the exact kind of comfort we all need right now. If you have a friend or family member who’s getting a little anxious under quarantine—or if they just want to take their TV-watching setup to the next level—this would make a great gift.
The Gravity Blanket is our favorite weighted blanket of the year, and some of its best qualities make it quarantine-perfect. Glass beads give this blanket its extra weight, and while it exerts a nice amount of pressure, it's definitely not overwhelming. While it’s definitely cozy, it’s not terribly hot, so it can provide comfort even if the person using it is feeling too fluish for additional layers. Best of all, the Gravity Blanket’s removable exterior is machine-washable, so there’s no need to worry about it being used by someone who’s sick.
11. Our favorite humidifier, so your loved one can breathe easier
A scratchy throat can be one of the most irritating forms of sickness, and, unfortunately, COVID-19 tends to bring it on. Coughing is especially irritating because it can get worse at night, cutting you off from much-needed rest. At least there’s a reliable way of handling this symptom: a good humidifier will soothe the throat, making breathing easier, and encouraging the person with the cough to sleep more deeply.
This humidifier from Vicks is startlingly powerful, capable of bringing a room up to 80% humidity and continuing to run for about ten hours at a time, thanks to its massive water tank. Rachel Vong writes that the first time she used the humidifier she “Woke up in the morning and the windows were so covered with moisture that I couldn't see outside. Works really well! Going to buy a second one for the living area." We’re with Rachel here, naming this our pick for the very best humidifier of the year.
If you gift this humidifier to someone struggling through COVID-19, be sure to also pass along our guide on how to keep it clean. With some maintenance, humidifiers can be a game-changer for long, stuffy nights.
12. The best e-reader to keep your brain active even when the libraries are closed
Lately, I’ve been thankful for my Kindle Paperwhite literally every day. Under normal circumstances I’m in the library all the time, but that’s obviously not an option if local libraries are closed, or if you can’t leave your home. The solution? It’s time to fully embrace e-books.
I love my Kindle Paperwhite for its simplicity and convenience. It’s not covered in distracting features, but there are a few things about it (the light-up screen! The storage!) that make me really appreciate the benefits of e-books. I want to plug the Libby app one more time as a great place to get books for your Kindle, but Amazon also offers an enormous library.
Although my Paperwhite is from an older generation, the newest version is our favorite Kindle on the market, with increased storage and—get this—a waterproof body. It also has the ability to play audiobooks from Audible, so you can give it to any kind of reader with a virtual guarantee it will be appreciated.
13. One of our favorite smart speakers to talk to family without being glued to phone
Anyone else getting video call exhaustion? My eyes have been strained for about three weeks straight. It’s tough to pull away from the constant onslaught of Zoom calls when you want so badly to feel connected with friends and family. But maybe that’s a good reason to pivot back to phone calls. Calling your loved ones doesn’t have to mean being glued to your phone all day. When you’re alone all day the likelihood you’ll spend that time looking at a screen definitely increases. Know someone in this situation? Help ease it for them by giving them a smart speaker.
The third-generation Amazon Echo won us over with its superior sound quality and its mute feature, which switches off the microphone. On Amazon, buyer Sean Christopher says, "Setting up the new Echo was the easiest most seamless process! I literally took it out of the box, plugged it in and in under a minute it set itself up and was ready to use!” Help get your quarantined friend away from the blue light of their screen by promising to call them while they make dinner. I promise, it’s much nicer that way.
14. A happy light to bring the sun indoors
As a winter-averse New Englander, I’m a big proponent of happy lights. These super bright lights imitate the rays of the sun, helping to combat depression and dreariness brought on by lack of vitamin D. I like how this one flattens neatly, so you can carry it with you to the office (or to the couch, as the case may be). Routinely using this lamp for a few minutes each morning can take you out of your lethargic slump and make you feel like a person again.
Being forced under quarantine isn’t really a mood-booster for any of us. On the (literal) bright side, this is a great time to start looking for solutions. With the help of this lamp, you can send a little bit of sunshine to someone who needs it. Reviewer Carlyn found this one really worked for her, writing, "This is such a powerful lamp, but not overwhelming. I love that there are different brightness settings. I love that, compared to regular lamps, it takes up so much less space. It is super easy to use, comes with a decent length power cord and much more pleasing to the eye than a bulky lamp with a ginormous lamp shade."
15. A bluetooth headset for taking phone calls of both the fun and less-fun variety
So, maybe you’re not shopping for someone who’s quarantined all alone. Even tricker—you’re looking for a gift with someone in a full house. Like many of us, I’m working from home right now, so I can appreciate the importance of a decent bluetooth headset to staying focused and keeping your work separate from your roommates. This particular headset pairs with the Plantronics app, which allows you to customize your experience and watch your battery life. We love its versatility and sound quality so much, we’ve crowned it the best bluetooth headset of 2020.
Jason Sanchez, an oilfield truck driver, also loves this headset. He explains that his wife used to complain that she couldn’t hear a word he was saying when he called from work, but now, “With this Planitronics 5200 she says it sounds like I'm in a quiet office! As if I have a desk job! [...] It took me a while to decide if I wanted to spend the money. Now that I have it, I don't think I can live without it. Super comfortable and outstanding noise canceling mics."
16. A beginner’s yoga kit to introduce some gentle movement
It’s time to face reality: not everyone is going to spend quarantine doing burpees and learning how to walk on their hands. That being said, getting the chance to move your body is critical for both physical and mental wellbeing. If you know someone cooped up in their own space, they might be starting to feel this frustration. This set, which includes everything you need for most yoga sessions, can be your way of giving them sweet relief. According to one reviewer, “This kit has everything you need to begin your path to wellness. The block and strap are almost essential for a first timer, they helped me understand the stability of each pose.”
One of the great things about yoga is that it can be as gentle or intense as the yogi wants. Yoga is pretty much the only form of exercise I still do when I’m feeling unwell, and I always come out of it feeling a little bit better. With a treasure trove of yoga videos online, whoever you give this to is sure to put it to good use.
17. A Zoom subscription so they can organize group calls
Can you think of anything more enjoyable for someone who's stuck at home than being able to see the faces of their favorite loved ones at the touch of a button? Many of us are using Zoom on a near-daily basis for business calls, but for people who can't leave their homes, it can be a wonderful application that connects them to the outside world.
Zoom offers free subscriptions which allow people to host 40-minute calls, but if you want to unlock the full suite of features, you'll want to upgrade to a paid subscription. Your loved one can invite up to 100 people, have calls that last up to 24 hours, and even record calls if they want. It makes the perfect gift for people who want to stay connected to loved ones they can't see at the moment.
18. A subscription to Disney+, Hulu, or Netflix
One of the silver linings of not being able to go out is that I'm finally catching up on some of my favorite shows and movies I haven't been able to binge. It's a great time to subscribe to some of the popular streaming services on the market right now, like Disney+—which has every Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney movie you can think of—, Hulu, and Netflix.
- Sign up for Disney+ starting at $6.99 a month
- Sign up for Hulu starting at $5.99 a month
- Sign up for Netflix starting at $8.99 a month
19. A care package of essential items they may be lacking
This may be the first time that toilet paper actually makes a pretty sweet gift. It's hard to find toilet paper, paper towels, hand santizier, and cleaning wipes right now—so find what you can in stores, then ship them to your loved ones who can't leave the house. They'll be thrilled to receive these hard-to-find essential items, especially if their stock has been dwindling recently.
- Get the Charmin Ultra Strong 2-Ply Bathroom Tissue, 18 Rolls at Office Depot for $24.50
- Get the Megababe Squeaky Clean Hand Sanitizer at Target for $5.99
- Get the Tilex Disinfects Instant Mildew Remover Spray at Staples for $6.49
20. Gift cards to local restaurants
Finally, we come to the greatest gift of all: food! Although many restaurants are currently closed, your quarantined friend will definitely appreciate a gift card to their favorite restaurant. They can decide whether they want to order takeout, or if they’d rather hang onto the card until they’re able to dine in again. It’s a difficult time for restaurants, so this is also a great way to help local gems stay afloat.
The best way to support local businesses is to buy gift cards directly from the businesses themselves, since services like Grubhub will take a cut of the sale. If that’s not an option, however, Grubhub does offer gift cards that your loved one can apply to takeout or delivery. You get to support local businesses, and they get to eat their favorite food. Win-win!
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.