If you’re looking for a gift for someone who loves maps — and really, who doesn’t? — you’ve come to the right place. Our list has something for everyone from casual cartophiles to bonafide map geeks, and for every budget from stocking stuffers to grand gestures. We have ten featured gift ideas (plus our book of course!), and links to more ideas and our guides from previous years at the end of the post. Mappy shopping!
One of my favorite Christmas gifts ever was a map quilt from Haptic Lab. Almost every year that I’ve put together a mappy holidays gift guide, I’ve featured a new map quilt from Haptic Lab, from cities to coastlines to a Dymaxion projection quilt. This year they have some very cool new additions to their quilt lineup that celebrate open space. There’s a Yosemite quilt (above), a Yellowstone quilt, and quilts of New York City’s Central and Prospect Parks. Also new this year: a moon map quilt! If you happen to have a crafty cartophile on your list, Haptic Lab also offers kits to make your own map quilt.
All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey
$27.50 (MSRP $50)
Sure, this is a shameless plug for our own book, but we really did write it with map lovers in mind, so we think it would make a great gift. It has 80 stories about a huge variety of maps, mapmakers, and mappy ideas from across time and space (including a map that is currently hurtling its way out of our solar system). The book covers art, science, history, culture, geography, and of course, cartography. We specifically chose maps that are visually appealing but also have a good story behind them. There’s a map for everyone in there, even for those who don’t yet know they love maps! We know you’ll love it, but if you aren’t convinced, check out the reviews and read excerpts here.
I’ve been mildly obsessed with Landcarpets ever since their maker, Florian Pucher, contacted me seven years ago after reading a piece I wrote about satellite images of planned cities. Inspired by views of the landscape from an airplane window, Pucher’s hand-tufted, limited edition rugs look a lot like satellite images of U.S. croplands (above), poppy fields in The Netherlands, and downtown Hong Kong. Any of his Landcarpets would make an amazing, surprising gift that would thrill any map lover.
This lovely book of graphic maps was inspired by a one-year, 11,000-mile solo bike trip around (literally) the country. Upon dismounting, Peter Gorman designed some maps based on places he’d stopped along the way and opened on online shop to sell them. They were a hit, and after a bunch of press coverage, Gorman collected into a book backed by Kickstarter, and moved to Hawaii to become a full-time map designer. The book, or individual map prints, would make any cartographer or designer on your list smile.
City Map Wallpaper
What’s better than hanging a beautiful map on your wall? How about covering the entire wall with a map? Point Two Design will custom make a map of the city of your choice in your favorite colors, tailored to fit any wall in your house. If you’re a renter, don’t worry — it’s made from vinyl that peels right off with no residue. Now that I know this option exists, the only thing stopping me from wallpapering my entire house with maps is my inability to choose which maps!
North America: Portrait of a Continent
This is certainly the most anticipated gift on the list. This incredible, hand-drawn map of North and Central America took Anton Thomas four years to complete and another year to perfect and produce. He meticulously researched the 600 cities on this 4′ x 5′ map in order to draw a meaningful skyline to represent each one. He even re-drew the western half of the contiguous U.S. because his skills had improved so much in the course of making the map. We featured the map in our book and have been excitedly waiting to buy a copy. Anton will open pre-orders soon, and the first prints will likely ship in March. But if you’d like to give this as a gift this holiday season, you’ll receive an announcement card to give the lucky recipient. It will be worth the wait!
Atlas of Space
$12 – $259
Data Viz artist Eleanor Lutz has been making beautiful, imaginative maps of space and everything in it for several years. She now has enough of a collection that it can legitimately be called an Atlas of Space. Though you can’t (yet?) buy all of her designs in a traditional atlas format, you can get any one of the dozen in any number of formats, from a framed print to a shower curtain to a cell phone case. Choose from an asteroid map of the solar system, a geologic map of the moon, a topographic map of the goddesses of Venus (above, and also featured in our book!), and many more.
Central Park Squirrel Census 2019 Report
In 2018, there were an estimated 2,373 Eastern gray squirrels living in New York City’s Central Park. How do we know this? Because they were counted by 323 volunteer Squirrel Sighters. The resulting report is accompanied by two beautiful maps: the one above that shows squirrel locations, population densities, fur coloration patterns, and other data on a celestial-style map, and a beautiful map of the “geographic and cultural systems” of the park. According to the Squirrel Census, the report is as much a profile of Central Park as it is a survey of small mammals. The report has information and maps about squirrels, humans, and dogs, as well as a collection of sounds from the park. This may seems like an oddly specific gift, but anyone who likes maps and data and visualizations will love it. As the report’s authors’ say, “If you like squirrels, maps, design, art, community, science, parks, or New York, this is for you.”
National Parks Relief Maps
$79 – $545
By digitally stitching together USGS topo maps and adding shaded relief, Muir Way has made a beautiful collection of maps of National Parks. The result, as beautifully demonstrated by the map of Hawaii’s Haleakalā National Park above, is a really cool three-dimensional effect that shows off the landscapes. The colors are inspired by the underlying maps, and the current park boundaries are shown in red. Choose from among 36 parks, each made with between five and 75 topo maps from the early to mid 20th century. The prints are available in a variety of sizes, framed or unframed.
Small, subtle, charming, useful, and mappy! What else could you want from a notebook? I’ll take a dozen please, Santa. These little guys are reporter-style notebooks, which makes them great for pockets and for left-handers. They’re made by a Cleveland-based letterpress design studio called Lake Erie Design Co run by Nikki Castiglione.
I had been using Jim Niehues’ maps to navigate my way around the ski trails of Utah and Colorado for decades before I knew one man was responsible for almost all of them. But now that I know, I’m a huge fan. I gave a framed copy of his map of Mount Rose in Nevada to my father. And we included his maps of Breckenridge in Colorado and Deer Valley in Utah in our book. That gave me a great excuse to interview him about his process, which he also lays out in detail in his new book book of almost 200 hand-painted trail maps. Map geeks will immediately see the influence of legendary cartographic panoramist Heinrich Berann in Niehues work, and any map lover or ski enthusiast will be thrilled with this beautiful book.
For more ideas, check out Jonathan Crowe’s gift guide at The Map Room that includes some of the best map books published this year. Also consider:
An Atlas of Geographical Wonders
The Minard System: The Complete Statistical Graphics of Charles-Joseph Minard
National Geographic’s brand new Atlas of the World
For even more ideas, check out our previous gift guides:
2018 Gift Guide (National Geographic)
2017 Gift Guide (National Geographic)
2016 Gift Guide (National Geographic)
2015 Gift Guide (Twitter)
2014 Gift Guide (Wired)
2013 Gift Guide (Wired)