Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Prisoners

So, you’ve found yourself in the predicament of needing to buy a gift for someone behind bars. Don’t worry, we won’t pry into how you ended up in this situation, but we’re here to help make your gift-giving experience a little less, well, criminal. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of thoughtful gift ideas for prisoners that are sure to lighten their sentence and maybe even get you out of their “naughty” list. From crossword puzzles to artistic supplies, we’ve got you covered with gifts that will make their time behind bars a little more bearable, and hopefully, earn you the title of “Best Gift-Giver on Cell Block C!”


Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Prisoners

Non-perishable snacks

When it comes to non-perishable snacks for prisoners, you have to think outside the box. Sure, your usual go-to snacks might not be allowed, but fear not! There are plenty of delicious options that are sure to satisfy those cravings. Think about sending some individually wrapped granola bars, packets of nuts, or even microwave popcorn. They may not have access to a kitchen, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a tasty treat!

Homemade treats

There’s nothing quite like the taste of a homemade treat, and prisoners will definitely appreciate the effort you put into making something special just for them. Bake up a batch of their favorite cookies or brownies, being mindful of any restrictions on ingredients. Remember, nothing says “I love you” like a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie.

Microwavable meals

Let’s face it, the culinary options in prison might leave a little something to be desired. Why not send a few microwavable meals to help break up the monotony? Just be sure to check with the prison’s regulations and restrictions first. Some options to consider are microwavable mac and cheese, instant ramen noodles, or even pre-packaged meals that can be easily heated in a microwave.

Coffee and tea

Sometimes all you need is a good cup of coffee or tea to make everything feel better. While prisoners might not have access to their favorite coffee shop, you can bring the taste of their favorite brew to them. Consider sending individual servings of instant coffee or tea bags, so they can enjoy a comforting cup whenever they need it. Just be sure to find out if the prison allows these items first.

Spices and seasonings

Let’s be honest, sometimes prison food can be a little bland. Help your loved one add some flavor to their meals by sending them a variety of spices and seasonings. From salt and pepper to garlic powder and chili flakes, giving them the ability to spice things up will make all the difference. Just make sure to check with the prison to see what types of seasonings are allowed and in what quantities.

Books and Magazines

Inspirational books

When someone is going through a difficult time, it can be incredibly uplifting to read an inspirational book. Find a book that speaks to their personal interests and values, and you’ll help them find strength and motivation during their time behind bars. Whether it’s a memoir, a self-help book, or even a collection of positive quotes, an inspirational book can provide the hope and encouragement they need.

Educational books

Stimulate their mind and expand their knowledge with educational books. Whether they have a specific interest or want to explore a new subject, there are plenty of educational options to choose from. From history to science, literature to psychology, there’s a wealth of knowledge waiting to be discovered. Plus, learning something new can be a great way to pass the time and provide a sense of purpose.

Self-help books

Prison can be a challenging and transformative experience, and self-help books can provide valuable guidance during this time. Whether it’s focusing on personal growth, overcoming challenges, or finding inner peace, a self-help book can offer practical advice and tools for navigating the difficulties of prison life. Help them discover their inner strength and empower themselves with a self-help book that resonates with their journey.

Fiction and non-fiction books

Escape into a world of fiction or explore the wonders of reality with a selection of both fiction and non-fiction books. From thrilling mysteries and gripping crime novels to inspiring biographies and thought-provoking non-fiction, there’s something for everyone. Books have the power to transport us to different times and places, providing a much-needed escape when reality becomes overwhelming.

Magazine subscriptions

Keep their minds engaged with magazine subscriptions tailored to their interests. Whether they love sports, fashion, cooking, or art, there’s a magazine out there that will capture their attention and keep them connected to the outside world. Not only will this give them something to look forward to each month, but it will also provide a form of entertainment and keep them up to date with current trends and topics.

Writing Materials

Journals and notebooks

Encourage self-reflection and personal growth by providing journals and notebooks. Writing can be a therapeutic outlet, allowing prisoners to process their thoughts and emotions in a healthy way. Whether they choose to write letters, poetry, or simply journal their experiences, having a dedicated space to express themselves can be incredibly valuable during their time in prison.

Pens and pencils

Of course, writing materials wouldn’t be complete without pens and pencils. Help your loved one fill their journals and notebooks with a variety of writing instruments. From smooth gel pens to classic No. 2 pencils, having options will allow them to find the perfect tool to bring their words to life.

Stamps and envelopes

Part of the joy of writing is being able to share your thoughts and feelings with others. Help your loved one stay connected with friends and family by providing them with stamps and envelopes. This will make it easier for them to send letters and keep in touch with their loved ones while they serve their sentence.

Writing prompts

Sometimes a little extra inspiration is needed to get the creative juices flowing. Consider sending a book of writing prompts, which can be a helpful tool when they are feeling stuck or in need of a fresh perspective. Writing prompts can provide a jumping-off point for journal entries, creative writing, or even personal essays, helping prisoners explore their thoughts and emotions in unique and unexpected ways.

Art Supplies


Artistic expression can be incredibly therapeutic, allowing prisoners to channel their emotions into something tangible. Provide them with a sketchbook, a blank canvas waiting to be filled with their creations. Whether they prefer to sketch, doodle, or paint, having a dedicated space for their artwork can be incredibly meaningful.

Pencils and colored pencils

To accompany the sketchbook, make sure to include a selection of pencils and colored pencils. From fine lines to bold strokes, these tools will allow them to bring their artistic visions to life. The vibrant colors of colored pencils can particularly brighten up their artwork and provide a welcome burst of creativity.

Paints and brushes

For those who prefer to work with paints, sending a set of watercolors or acrylic paints is sure to be appreciated. Don’t forget to include a variety of brushes for different techniques and effects. Whether they create masterpieces or simply enjoy the act of painting, these supplies will allow them to explore their creativity and find solace in their artwork.

Canvas panels

Take their artwork to the next level with canvas panels. These ready-to-use canvases provide a more professional and polished look to their creations. Whether they prefer to work in small sizes or larger, more ambitious pieces, the addition of canvas panels will truly elevate their artistic endeavors.

Craft kits

For those who enjoy a variety of artistic mediums, consider sending craft kits that encompass a range of materials and techniques. This can include things like origami kits, jewelry-making kits, or even miniatures to build and paint. These craft kits will offer a creative outlet and provide a sense of accomplishment as they complete each project.

Music and Audio

MP3 players

Music has the incredible power to transport us to a different time or place, offering comfort and escape in even the most challenging situations. Provide your loved one with an MP3 player filled with their favorite tunes or even a selection of new songs and albums to explore. This portable music device will become a cherished companion, providing a much-needed source of entertainment and solace.


Of course, a quality pair of headphones is a must-have companion to go along with the MP3 player. Block out the noise and immerse yourself in the music that speaks to your soul. Whether your loved one wants to drown out the hustle and bustle of prison life or just enjoy some alone time, a good set of headphones will become their sanctuary in sound.

Audio books

For those who prefer the spoken word, consider sending audio books. There’s something incredibly captivating about having a story read to you, and audio books offer a delightful and convenient way to dive into a different world. Whether it’s a thrilling adventure or a heartwarming romance, audio books will transport your loved one’s imagination and provide hours of entertainment.

Relaxation and meditation CDs

Prison life can be incredibly stressful, so it’s important to provide your loved one with ways to relax and find peace amidst the chaos. Send a selection of relaxation and meditation CDs so they can practice mindfulness and find solace in soothing sounds and serene voices. From guided meditation to calming nature sounds, these CDs will be a welcome retreat from the demands of prison life.

Clothing and Accessories

Comfortable clothing

When it comes to clothing for prisoners, comfort is key. Send your loved one soft and comfortable garments that will help them feel cozy and at ease during their time behind bars. Think about items like sweatpants, t-shirts, or even a plush bathrobe. After all, everyone should have a little comfort, no matter where they are.

Socks and underwear

Prison can be a harsh and unforgiving environment, and having fresh socks and underwear can make a world of difference. Consider sending a supply of these essential items to ensure your loved one stays comfortable and protected. Look for socks with cushioned soles and underwear made from breathable materials for extra comfort.

Hats and scarves

Although prisoners might not be able to wear a wide variety of accessories, hats and scarves are generally allowed. These items can provide a touch of personal style and warmth during colder months. Consider sending a cozy beanie, a stylish baseball cap, or a soft scarf that will not only keep them warm but also remind them of your love and support.

Jewelry or accessories

While prisoners may have to adhere to certain restrictions when it comes to jewelry and accessories, there are still options available. Consider sending simple and meaningful pieces, like a personalized necklace or a discreet bracelet. These items can serve as a reminder of their loved ones and offer a sense of comfort and connection.

Personal Care Items

Toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)

Personal hygiene is incredibly important, even in prison. Help your loved one maintain their cleanliness and self-care routine by sending toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and deodorant. Opt for travel-size versions to comply with prison regulations and make it easier for them to store and use these essential items.

Shaving essentials

For those who prefer to keep a clean-shaven appearance, consider sending shaving essentials like shaving cream, disposable razors, and after-shave lotion. Keeping up with personal grooming can go a long way in boosting their self-confidence and providing a sense of normalcy in an otherwise challenging environment.

Moisturizers and lip balm

The dry and harsh conditions of prison can take a toll on the skin. Help your loved one keep their skin hydrated and protected by sending moisturizers and lip balm. Look for products that are gentle, non-greasy, and suitable for sensitive skin. A little bit of self-care can make a big difference in how they feel each day.

Books on personal care

Sometimes all you need is a little bit of guidance and inspiration to help you take care of yourself. Send books on personal care that cover topics such as mindfulness, self-care routines, or even beauty and grooming tips. These books can provide valuable insight and practical advice on how to prioritize and nurture oneself, even in a challenging environment.

Phew! That was quite the comprehensive list of thoughtful gift ideas for prisoners. Whether it’s satisfying their taste buds, expanding their minds, or providing a sense of comfort and connection, there’s truly something for everyone on this list. So the next time you’re contemplating what to send to your loved one in prison, refer back to this article and choose a gift that will bring a smile to their face and remind them that they are loved and supported, no matter where they are.