Looking back on my time with my little one, here are my suggestions:
Jolly jumper stroller cover: covered the bassinet or stroller, or play pen so baby can sleep outside in the summer. It keeps the bugs and the sunlight off. http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=2683392
Meals that I didn't have to cook. When my coworker would come by with a casserole, it was a great, great thing.
Movie tickets to mom & baby movies (if they're available in your area). It's a fun way to get out during the day and see a first run movie. The volume is turned down low, the lights are up, and there's even a change table provided.
Simple, cheap, and they work: A number of sites online will have printable black & white images. Very little babies can't see very far, and the contrast of black on white is fascinating to them. Your friend can tape these to the back of the couch. The baby has something to look at while leaning up against your friend's shoulder. An example of such a site: http://baby.zorger.com/
"The 90 minute baby sleep system". A book that nearly saved my sanity re: baby sleeping. I was using "The Baby Whisperer" and it nearly drove me to tears. I was sure I wasn't doing things "right" because the baby's sleep pattern was so strange to me. The "90 minute" book was awesome because it showed me how to recognize my baby's natural sleep patterns and work with them. Instant success and better days/nights for everyone in the house.
A cheap clock radio to provide white noise while the baby sleeps. Set it to the end of the AM band width to provide all the white noise baby needs.
POD on the swaddler... my kiddo didn't figure out how to escape her Miracle Blanket until she was over 4 months old. POD on the sharp pair of scissors for cutting baby nails.
Wash cloths. You can never have too many for washing hands, faces, bums, etc.
This metal frame with mesh fabric pulled over it. It's for laying the baby down in the bath tub, but keeping his/her head above water. I could only find it as part of a kit on the web site, but it'll give you a visual (it's the blue thing with duckies on it). I found it at the store for about $6. http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=2849314
A bottle of sweet almond oil for massaging baby. It's unscented, absorbs quickly, and leaves baby soft without being perfumed. Of course, if someone has a nut allergy, go with another fragrance-free oil.