Buy less gift guide: Classes to learn a skill or just have fun

You could help someone find a new interest or talent. Here are some ideas for online classes and workshops.

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Most of us have that thing we’ve always wanted to try. Maybe we thought about learning to cook some new meals, or learn to play the piano.

If someone enrolled us in a class and paid for it, and maybe offered to go with us too, that would be our chance to step out and try something new.

A great holiday gift this year could be paying for someone to attend classes. It’s an experience a person might hang on to for a lifetime. Options range from the practical (DIY/home fix it) to the off-beat (glass-blowing).

Clearly, you’d want to match the classes with the person — you can’t give everyone on your list classes to learn how to make their own beer. And not every option on our list of ideas will be available in every community.

An alternative that may be worth considering for anyone, no matter where they live or whether they want to attend in-person classes: a subscription to MasterClass. For $15 a month, a person can learn about anything from baking the perfect homemade cake, to building a website, to making furniture out of wood. The big differentiator: the classes are taught by experts and celebrities who focus on the skills that made them famous and successful. So you get tennis lessons taught by Serena Williams, cooking taught by Gordon Ramsay or Gabriela Camara and singing taught by Christina Aguilera or Usher. In general, classes are two to five hours total, broken up into sections that are five to 15 minutes each.

MasterClass positions itself for people who don’t just want to learn one particular skill but are actually interested in lifelong learning.

Ideas for classes and lessons you could give as a gift:

  • Dancing — ballroom, square-dancing, traditional, etc.
  • Photography
  • Cooking
  • Music — singing or playing an instrument
  • DIY / home fix-it classes
  • Glass blowing
  • Golf lessons
  • Beer making
  • Pottery
  • Gardening
  • Painting / crafting
  • Karate/ martial arts
  • Sewing/ crocheting
  • Computer skills/ Excel
  • Candle making
  • Food canning
  • Scrapbooking
  • Extreme sports — skateboarding, snowboarding, etc.

Buy less gift guide

Return to Buy Less, Give More main page for other gift ideas



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Teresa Murray

Consumer Watchdog, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Teresa directs the Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers’ health, safety and financial security. Previously, she worked as a journalist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper. She received dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, a National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected 15 million customers nationwide. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.

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