Step away from the “FBI” sweatshirt. Drop the Washington Monument keychain. And don’t even go near the White House shot glass. If you’re buying D.C. gifts for the family and friends who’ve been missing you dearly since your big move, you’ve got to do better than the stuff middle schoolers on class trips go wild for. Pick up one of these items instead — and if you end up keeping it for yourself, we won’t tell.
D.C. neighborhood print
For your parents, who just assume you live near the White House, send along one of these colorful maps, which turn different D.C. neighborhoods into stained-glass-like paintings. Prints of artist Torie Partridge’s hand-illustrated maps — available online or at her design studio, Cherry Blossom Creative — come framed or unframed, and guarantee you won’t spend another phone conversation insisting, “No, Mom, it’s NoMa, not NoVa.”
Cherry Blossom Creative Workshop, 2128 Eighth St. NW, $25-$65, cherryblossomworkshop.com
This slim, spiral-bound notebook adorned with the stars and stripes of the D.C. flag has plenty of lined pages for your friends at home to make lists in. For example: “Dates to visit D.C.” or “Reasons my city isn’t as great as D.C.” Appointed Co. donates proceeds from sales of the blue linen notebook to a different charity every few months; buy it now to benefit Access Youth, which helps keep vulnerable D.C. kids in school.
Appointed Co., $24, appntd.com and local stationary and home goods shops
Green Hat navy-strength gin
Help your friends and family pretend they’re participating in one of D.C.’s favorite activities — happy hour — with a bottle of gin from New Columbia Distillers, the distillery that kicked off the craft liquor boom in Ivy City. Spring for the navy-strength gin: It’s got the same bright, juniper-heavy flavor of the traditional Green Hat, but with a higher alcohol content. Make sure to enclose a recipe for D.C.’s official cocktail, the rickey.
New Columbia Distillers, 1832 Fenwick St. NE, available at distillery for $40 and at D.C. liquor stores, greenhatgin.com
Even though no one can agree on where this tangy, sweet sauce came from (some say it’s a Chicago invention, others swear it’s a D.C. original), or even how it’s spelled (mambo or mumbo?), the District is pretty unanimous that it’s the best thing to put on wings. You can usually find the sauce only at area carryouts, but Capital City Co. makes this liquid gold available by the bottle at local food shops and on its website. The 12-ounce bottle ($7.25) should be enough to convert your Buffalo-purist friends. For your own fridge, throw down $25 for the gallon size.
Capital City Co., shopcapitalcity.com
9:30 Club shirt
The 9:30 Club is arguably a much more important D.C. institution than some old monument. The esteemed venue has hosted acts big (Chuck Brown, Prince) and not yet big (Nirvana, once), and is hallowed ground for music lovers. Tell your dad-rock-enthusiast uncle how cool he’s about to look before you hand him a T-shirt emblazoned with the 9:30 logo, available online or at the venue. For the littlest hipsters, there’s a very Instagrammable 9:30 Club onesie ($15).
9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW, $15, merch.930.com
Also in our newcomers guide: