If you’ve got a world traveler, geographile, map freak, or just someone who’s hard to shop for on your list this year, this roundup of gift ideas may be just what you need. All year long, we’ve been making a list of the neatest map-related products that we’d love to see under our own trees this holiday. And with prices ranging from $11 to $559, we’ve got every budget covered.
One of the best Christmas gifts I ever received was a self-spinning, solar-powered globe. Mova globes sit inside a clear plastic outer shell, with a thin layer of fluid in between. Tiny solar panels hidden within the globe’s surface power a tiny, ultra-low friction motor that keeps the globe silently turning as long as there is even a little bit of light—sunlight or artificial light will do. It makes for a pretty magical effect, as if the entire thing were spinning on its own atop its base.
Mova globes come in a bunch of different styles including political maps, relief maps, historical maps (above), satellite views, and some stylish two-color designs such as black and silver. There are also planets and moons including Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Pluto, and Titan. The globes range in diameter from 4.5 inches to 8.5 inches and cost between $160 and $559. Any map lover or geography buff will be thrilled with one of these as a gift.
These beautiful notebooks from FO! Design offer something a little more local and personalized. Their covers feature different maps depicting cities, countries, regions, rivers, the world—you name it. There are lots of ready-made options, or you can customize the notebook with a map of a specific place or the recipient’s name.
The notebook covers are made of laser-cut cardboard, which gives them a really nice three-dimensional texture. These are sure to inspire the travelers on your list to keep a journal of their adventures. One of these notebooks might even inspire a trip! They cost between $32 and $42. Order soon, as these are hand-made in Turkey and require a couple weeks for production and shipping.
These glasses are a great gift for the mountaineer in your life, offering them a reminder of their favorite peak with every sip. They’re etched with contour maps of some of the most beautiful and iconic mountains on the planet, including Denali, the Matterhorn, Everest, and Pikes Peak. Or, you can choose a custom location—anywhere with some relief will look great on glass.
The collection of famous mountains comes on rocks glasses for $14 each. Customized maps come in rocks glasses, wine glasses, or pint glasses for $16 to $18. You can even get a wine carafe for $45. The Uncommon Green has a bunch of other mappy gifts such as glasses etched with city maps and slate serving blocks with state maps carved into them.
Part travel guide, part architecture tour, and part history lesson, this series of maps offers a new way to see some of the world’s major cities. Focusing on specific, often underappreciated architectural styles, each map highlights dozens of examples with photos and details about each building. Several of the maps feature brutalism, a rugged—and polarizing—style of architecture popular in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s that favored exposed, unadorned concrete construction.
Other maps include all types of concrete buildings, or other architectural styles such as art deco, modernist, and constructivist. The maps are made by independent London publisher Blue Crow Media and cost around $11, or you can buy the entire set of 11 architecture maps for $100. You can also grab small collections of brutalist maps, European cities, or North American cities.
National Geographic trail maps are all but guaranteed to inspire a trip to the great outdoors. These maps aren’t just beautiful (though they are really are quite beautiful), they’re also highly accurate and painstakingly fact-checked and updated. And they’re printed on strong, water-proof paper, which makes them perfect for fishing, rafting, skiing, or hiking in any kind of weather.
This collection of maps of 10 of the most popular U.S. National Parks comes in a wooden box, making it a nice gift for travelers, outdoors enthusiasts, road-trippers, and map lovers alike. The set—which includes Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Olympic, and Zion National Parks—is priced at $99. If you’ve got a serious hiker on your list, there’s also a boxed set of Appalachian Trail maps.
These T-shirts are 100 percent map. You can choose from ready-made designs based on all sorts of historical and modern maps, such as an 1885 map of Maui, a 1958 CIA map of Iceland, or a 1947 map of Brooklyn. There are all types of maps, including vintage celestial charts, a pictorial map of Disney World, and a trail map of Aspen, Colorado.
If none of these are right for the people on your list, you can get one customized to a specific location. Custom shirts come in U.S. Geological Survey topo maps, or you can get one that uses an aviation map of the region around a specific airport. The shirts are unisex and cost $42 to $48.
Ever since we first learned about the Soviet military’s secret Cold War mapping program, we’ve been waiting for a book like this. Much of what’s known about this incredible project to map the entire world at seven different scales is described in The Red Atlas, published in October this year. The maps were classified and never meant to leave the USSR. But they found their way out, and 350 of them appear in the book.
Some of the maps of U.S. cities are more detailed than the maps made by our own U.S. Geological Survey at the time. The secret of how they were made remains unclear, but it seems unlikely it could have been done without someone on the ground. It’s chilling to see a Cold War-era map of your hometown with Cyrillic script on it!
These Woodcut Maps would be a great gift for just about anyone. You can customize the location shown in your map as well as which type of wood represents land, water, roads, and parks. There are 19 woods to choose from, ranging from a standard walnut to Macassar ebony and Hawaiian koa. You can also call out specific places on your map with symbols, such as a heart to represent where a couple met.
The maps come in a bunch of different shapes and styles that range from $89 for 5 x 7 inches to $1,234 for 18 x 30 inches. You can also divide your map up into six coasters.
Even the map lover on your list who has everything probably doesn’t have one of these stylish city neckties. Choose from six U.S. cities, Paris, Rome, or London. The ties are made of silk and cost $55 each. If you’re a fan of buying American, all of Josh Bach’s ties are designed and sewn in New York City.
If you’ve got a Bostonian or New Yorker (or a fan of either of those cities) on your list, you could also consider ties with maps of the local subway system. And for travelers, there’s a tie that features the DC-3 airplane or one with an Eiffel Tower pattern.
If you want to give a really special gift to someone who loves old maps, you can make a donation in their name to have a real historical map restored. The Boston Public Library’s Norman B. Leventhal Map Center has one of the biggest map collections in the country, and many of these treasures are in dire condition and need work to keep them from deteriorating further.
You can choose a specific map to save or make a general donation to the conservation fund. Once a map is restored, it will be digitized and made publicly available on the Library’s website for anyone to see or study—and the name of your honoree will be listed on the webpage as the map’s savior. The three3-foot-wide map of Paris from the 1850s above needs $250 worth of work, and the other maps on the list range from $100 for a 17th-century map of Florence, Italy, to $24,000 for an entire 18th-century atlas. We’ve featured this gift idea in years past, but it never goes out of style!
And finally, why not wrap those mappy gifts in more maps? Choose some wrapping paper in several different map styles, including the historical mountain maps shown above. Each $12 package comes with three sheets each of four different maps.
For more gift options, check out last year’s gift guide.