Consider the type of surgery they are having
You can tailor your gift to whatever kind of surgery they are having. For example, if your loved one is having heart surgery, you can get them a heart healthy cookbook filled with easy to make dishes.
You could also get them a fruit of the month subscription so that fresh apples, pears, grapefruit, or oranges are always available for a healthy breakfast or snack.
For someone undergoing cosmetic surgery, you could give a high quality, high SPF sunscreen to prevent future damage from UVA and UVB rays. You can also find special foundation that covers any scars while they heal.
Consider the patient's personality
If your special someone has a humorous side, you can find many t-shirts, caps, and cups featuring funny sayings about surgery or about being in the hospital. If they will be on crutches or wearing a cast, you can find decorative crutch and cast covers in a variety of fun patterns and colors.
If your loved one is the more serious type, consider giving them several non-fiction books to read while they are cooped up in recovery.
Consider how long their recovery will take
For someone facing a long recovery, you might hire a cleaning crew to come to their house twice a week to do the heavier cleaning like vacuuming, mopping, bathtub cleaning, and laundry. If you can't afford to hire a professional cleaning service, offer to clean for them until they are able to do it themselves.
Another good gift for a long recovery would be a collection of DVDs in their favorite movie genre, along with a stack of good books.
If their surgery leaves them a bit helpless, buy tools to aid in dressing, such as button hooks, shoehorns, or a dressing stick.
For someone whose healing time will be shorter, give a variety of current magazines for quick reading. Snacks that can be left on a bedside table, like nuts, pretzels, granola, or fruit make for easy munching and can also help with nausea upon taking medication.
Sudoku, crossword puzzles, or word search magazines can also occupy them while in bed.
Consider your budget
Many things you can include in a gift basket are very inexpensive, like scented candles, lotions, and reading material.
However, if your budget allows, or if you know several people who would contribute, how about paying for a mini vacation for the patient that they can go on as soon as they are healed? Not only would it be a welcomed break from the stress of surgery, but it would also motivate them to get well faster and give them something to anticipate.