Guide to non-traditional gifts: Classes to learn a skill or just have fun

If someone enrolled us in a class and paid for it, we might finally try something new


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 (perhaps once COVID-19 concerns have subsided). 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.

Back to the traditional classes to help people learn a new skill, or just have some fun, here are some ideas:

Dancing — ballroom, square-dancing, traditional, etc.



Music — singing or playing an instrument

DIY / home fix-it classes

Glass blowing

Golf lessons

Beer making



Painting / crafting

Karate/ martial arts

Sewing/ crocheting

Computer skills/ Excel 

Candle making

Food canning


Extreme sports — skateboarding, snowboarding, etc.


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


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. Prior to her current role, she worked as a journalist and columnist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio's largest daily newspaper. She is the recipient of dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, Best Business Writer in Ohio, and National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis. Among the accomplishments she’s most proud of is receiving a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected at least 15 million customers nationwide. Her work caused Verizon to reach an $80 million settlement with the FCC, the largest ever imposed at that time. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons and a dog. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.

Find Out More