Bitch in a Box: Gift Guide for People Who Will Never Come Visit You

feminist gift guides

This week, we're putting together just-for-fun holiday gift guides. Today's edition of Bitch in a Box is a gift guide for those people from home who will never come visit you in the cool new city you moved to. 

A portland porch

See? It's nice here. Come stay awhile. (photo by Portland Porches

Maybe, like me, you've moved somewhere new in the past year or two. Maybe, like me, you're pretty certain that where you live now is cooler than where you grew up. Maybe, like me, you're also pretty sure that the people back home will probably never come and visit you there. But you still keep trying to convince them to do it.

As I've moved from place to place in the years since graduating from college in Massachusetts, I've dedicated myself wholeheartedly to the task of trying to convince everyone I know that they should move to wherever I'm living. Or, if they won't move to where I am, they should at least come visit (so that they can see if they like it and think about moving there). I imagine some sort of college-dorm utopia where all my friends live right around the corner from me and we all like the same bars and I never have to make small-talk again.

However, with each new city I move to, I know that my pleas for company become less compelling. "You'd love San Francisco," I said, "San Francisco is the best." A year later I said, "Really, though, Portland is great. I think you'd really like it here. It's just your kind of scene."

With the holiday season approaching and expectations mounting for piles of unique, one-of-a-kind gifts that say "I understand you!" and "I appreciate you!" and "I thought about this gift for a really long time before I bought it!", now is the chance to give everyone a gift that shows them what they've been missing all those times they went to visit their parents when they could have used their vacations to come see you instead.

The "The Food Is Better Here" Gift

delicious city prints

A good strategy for attracting visitors is to showcase delicious local food offerings. I think that food items are perfect holiday gifts because you never have to worry that the gift won't be useful to the recipient, or that they already have one, or that it will just contribute to the piles of clutter that already crowd their living spaces. And if nothing else, they'll be able to share it at some holiday party they throw or attend, which will make them look good and you look good by extension.

Items that travel well or can be easily mailed (for all the people who you won't visit either) are coffee and chocolates, or syrups and sauces. Cookbooks associated with restaurants you like are also a viable option, since those can feel like a good representation of local culture and they're pretty trendy right now. If you know someone who is into both food and design, you might want to get them one of these Delicious City Prints by Roni Lagin, which are nice-looking and also informative about which local snacks a city is best known for.

The "Where I Live is Prettier" Gift

London transit map

People like art; people like art by local artists; people like art that represents local places. A nice gift for family or friends who will only ever view your new home from afar might be a print of a well-drawn map of your city. This will allow them to feel more familiar with your surroundings without ever taking the time to actually experience them. There are a bunch of design groups that produce map prints from all different cities. All you have to do is select your city, and you've got a lovely, tasteful, and seemingly customized gift. Cut Maps, Line Posters, Mr City Printing, City Maps, and Neighborwoods are a few suggestions to get you started.

For the less cartographically inclined, you could also try a stylish print of your city's skyline. BirdAve has a huge selection of city skyline prints, with a lot of international cities to choose from as well. The "Art & Soul of America" poster collection from Anderson Design Group has a classic appeal that might evoke some nostalgia and tug on some heartstrings. Loose Petals makes eco-friendly postcards, posters, and prints of cute, stylized drawings of city skylines.

The "At Least I Know They Can't Get This Where They Live" Gift

a gift card from stumptown roasters in portland

A pretty obvious tip is to go to a locally-owned store that sells locally-produced items and buy pretty much anything. I can't recommend any stores to you because that would defeat the purpose, and if you live in Portland, where I live, you probably already know more local stores than I do. All I can tell you is that you can buy just about anything if it is locally-produced and people will think it is a good gift.

You can also try buying someone a pair of tickets to a concert or event in your city in the hopes that they will use the opportunity to come and visit you. Maybe St. Vincent and David Byrne are playing in your city and your friend loved that album they made (this worked for me), or maybe someone else is playing who is famous enough to inspire a whole trip organized around them. Note: This tends to work better if you live closer than airplane-distance to the gift recipient.

The Guilt-Inducing Scrapbook

wish you were here tag

This one is really just self-congratulatory, but would be useful either for someone who you really want to guilt into moving or for a parent or grandparent who has been complaining about how they don't know anything about your life. Basically, you collect a bunch of fliers, ticket stubs, and mementos from favorite places you've visited in the area or fun events you attended this past year and present them as a sort of snapshot of your life in your new home. Some might call it a "guilt-scrapbook."

The "Our Friendship Is Really Important to Me" Gift

yumi sakugawa book

Sometimes the best way to get someone to come visit you is just to tell them how much they mean to you, how much you like them, and how fun it would be if you could hang out together, no matter the place. Yumi Sakugawa just made a small hardcover book of her comic I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You. This is the perfect little gift to express your deep and unending love for [insert friend's name here]. Because remember, the point of this gift is really to show the people you love how much you care about them. And if they cared about you, too, they'd come visit.

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