Published by: Julia
In my quest to uncover the best online courses for you, I´ve taken over 100 of them, over the past 12 months. During that time, it dawned on me what wonderful gifts many of them would make.
In fact, I have given several to my friends and family members. From what they have told me, they have really enjoyed kicking back and taking the courses.
Why online courses really are the perfect gift
Being in lockdown has given many of us the time to discover that we really enjoy learning more about subjects we are interested in and passionate about. Plus, of course, the fact most of us are now competing for fewer jobs means that we all want to grow our skillset.
That is why, right now, online courses make the perfect gift.
To give you a taste of what is available, below, I have put together a quick list of the online courses that I know will make great gifts. In an effort to make the list easier for you to use, I have broken them down into categories. So, whether you are looking for a gift for your mum who is crazy about cooking, a nephew who is starting university, or a friend that is struggling with mental health issues, you will be able to quickly find what you need.
Best online cooking class gift for food and drink lovers
In my experience, Masterclass has the best online cooking classes. All of their instructors are world-renowned professional chefs.
With masterclass the best approach is to buy the all-access pass.
That way the person you are treating can take all 13 of the cooking and drinks masterclasses. They can:
- Let Gordon Ramsay teach them how to cook like him
- Learn classic French cooking and fish with Thomas Keller
- Become barbecue masters with the help of Aaron Franklin
- Learn how to choose the right wines from James Suckling
- Take courses that have been created by many other of the world´s best chefs and drinks experts.
These are my favorites, but there are already courses available for lovers of Italian, Mexican, home cooking, cocktails, and European food. With more being added every month. All of which your friends or family members will be able to take as well.
Best online courses to give to musicians and music fans
Practically everyone on the planet loves music. Many of us play as well as enjoy listening.
So, anyone who is a fan of a certain star will really enjoy being able to sit back and spend several hours watching a course created by that person. It is far better than watching a documentary that somebody else made about them. The star themselves makes the masterclass.com music courses, so you know you are getting the real story about their lives. As well as learning how they make their music. Here is just a taste of the music-related courses masterclass currently has to offer.
- Take guitar lessons from Carlos Santana or Tom Morello
- Let Timbaland or deadmau5 teach you music creation and production
- Learn to sing with Christina Aguilera
- Learn the Violin with Itzhak Perlman
- Hans Zimmer how to create a film score course
The best thing is that when you buy a course from Masterclass, you get access to the full library of nearly a hundred courses. So, a music lover could take all of the 14 music-related courses they have to offer.
Lots of genres and instruments are covered. Including, jazz, country, drumming, electronic music production, ukelele, dance music, soul, and beat-making.
You may also want to take a look at what CreativeLive has to offer. Their music-related courses are especially good for people who like to create and record their own music. You can buy individual courses for a one-off cost giving the person lifetime access to that single course. Or, if you prefer, buy them a monthly pass, so they can try out all of the different courses.
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Here is a taste of what is available:
- Studio Pass courses that give you a look behind the scenes. Ideal for someone who is looking to create their own sound and record in a studio one day.
- Digital audio workstation courses for Ableton and many of the other popular workstations
- How to write songs
- Creating a soundscore for a film
- DJ mixing
Great online gifts for film fans
Most of us love movies, documentaries, and TV shows. When a significant percentage of the world went into lockdown during the first half of 2024, the number of new Netflix subscribers was double what it was during the same period of 2024. Something like 20 million new people signed up for their service, almost overnight.
If your mum, dad, brother, sister, aunt, or nan was one of them, the chances are they would love to receive a course that their favorite director, actor, or comedy star created.
Once again, for this genre of the online course, Masterclass.com is the place to go. They have 11 courses that have been created by actors and directors, as well as a couple of more that are about writing scripts and TV series. I´ve taken them all, and regardless of whether I was a fan or not, I enjoyed virtually all of them.
The chance to get behind the scenes and see the creative process through some of the world´s best screenwriters, actors, and director´s eyes was fascinating, to say the least. I´ve watched several of them more than once. They are all excellent, however, here are the ones I think would make the best gifts.
- An insight into the weird mind and world of the director David Lynch
- Spike Lee´s inspired independent filmmaking course
- Steve Martin´s highly entertaining comedian course
- Helen Mirren´s brilliant acting course
- Hans Zimmer´s film scoring course
Again, don´t forget when you buy someone a Masterclass course, they get access to them all, for a year. So, if they are a budding actor, writer, director, or taking media studies, they can watch over 60 hours of filmmaking related content.
I would consider giving the gift of these kinds of masterclass courses to the following kinds of people:
- Fans of a particular actor, director, or genre
- Media studies students
- Anyone who wants to write a script, TV show, or book
- Thespians and would be professional actors
- People who love creating videos and films
A great gift for business owners and entrepreneurs
To be successful, entrepreneurs need to be continuous learners. This is particularly important when you first start out. So, if you know someone who wants to set up and run a small company buying them some online courses to help them to do that is a good idea.
I have taken several of the Coursera business courses and would highly recommend them. There are also about 7 available on Masterclass and they are gradually adding more. Here are my favorites so far across the two platforms.
- Chris Voss – The Art of Negotiation – Masterclass
- Howard Schultz – Business Leadership – Masterclass
- Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein – Advertising – Masterclass
- Sara Blakely – Self-Made Entrepreneur – Masterclass
- Marketing in a Digital World – University of Illinois – Coursera
- Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills – University of Michigan – Coursera
- Excel Skills for Business: Essentials – Macguire University – Coursera
- Introduction to Financial Accounting – Wharton School of Pennsylvania – Coursera
- Introduction to Operations Management – Wharton School of Pennsylvania – Coursera
The perfect online course to give as a gift to a student
If someone in your family has just taken up a place at college or signed up for an apprenticeship giving them a course that is related to the subject they are planning to study would be a good move. For example, any of the above business courses are ideal for someone studying business or marketing, the film ones are great for those seeking a career in media.
The best online learning platform for educational courses is Coursera. They have worked with the world´s top universities to produce over 4,000 courses covering a huge list of subjects, including:
- The arts
- Business Management
- Social Science
- Math and Logic
- Plus dozens of other subjects
Sometimes it is even possible to find courses that have been created and uploaded by the universities that the students in your family are attending. That is great because you know for certain that the material they will be learning will be relevant to them.
Give the gift of an online university degree
If you want to give a really special gift, you could consider clubbing together with other family members and pay for them to complete a fully accredited degree online. Coursera offers several already and is adding more, each year.
Giving the gift of happiness to a friend
The last course I have on my list of online courses I would recommend to anyone. Best of all it is free.
Free for you to take, which I have done several times already, and free for you to give a friend, colleague, or family member. Yale´s The Science of Well-Being is available on the Coursera website. You can read my full review here.
Online courses for sports fans and sporty people
Anyone who plays or follows a sport will enjoy taking a course that relates to the sport. Surprisingly, there are not that many courses that are aimed at people like this.
Currently, once again Masterclass leads the way here. They have a growing list of courses that have been created by some of the world´s top athletes. You can buy a friend or family member access to the 9 sports and gaming courses. They get the chance to:
- Learn tennis from Serena Williams
- Learn the fundamentals of gymnastics from Simone Biles
- Let Tony Hawkes teach them to skateboard
- Learn how to shoot hoops and play basketball from Stephen Curry
Fantastic online courses for gamers and gaming fans
We all love to play games. For some, it is a quick hand of cards or playing Monopoly with friends. Others take their gaming a bit more seriously and play chess or poker. Plus, of course, these days, virtually everyone plays video games.
Masterclass has online courses for all of those people. Whoever you gift access to can:
- Learn poker from Daniel Negreanu
- Build on Daniel´s classes and learn poker strategy from Phil Ivey
- Let the chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov teach them the game
- Learn about game design and theory from Will Wright the mind behind SimCity and The Sims
Buying a course for crafters and hobbyists
At some stage in our lives, most of us will take up a hobby. It could be photography, sewing, cooking, crafting, collecting, or something else. Regardless of what it is, one thing is sure if you buy a course for someone that is related to their passion they will be more than a little happy. Here is a taste of the kind of online courses you could buy for the various kinds of hobbyists:
- The perfect photography course – Head to CreativeLive, they have photography classes that can take someone from beginner to professional. This platform covers everything from the basics to courses that show you how to take portraits for a living and capture landscapes.
- Fantastic craft courses – The platform you want when buying an online course for a maker or craft fan is CreativeLive. They already have 177 high-quality courses in this section. Here is just a taste of what they offer:
- Painting – watercolor, oils, and more
- Flower arranging
- How to make paper flowers
- Craft photography projects
- Knitting and crochet
- Mixed medium art
- Pattern design
- How to make money from selling what you make
…. with new courses being added every month a CreativeLive pass would be a great source of inspiration for anyone who loves crafts.
Online courses are the gifts that keep on giving
So, there you have it, a quick overview of the amazing choice you get if you decide to give online courses as gifts. It is incredibly easy to find something suitable regardless of who you are buying for.
The person you buy for will enjoy taking the course and will be able to benefit from using the knowledge that they have gained for many years to come.
If you can spend a little more and treat someone to a CreativeLive or Masterclass.com annual pass you will be opening up a whole world of learning for them. With these passes, they can take as many of the hundreds of courses that are available as they like.
So, if you are scratching your head wondering what to buy someone for the birthday, Christmas, Eid, or Hanukkah, look no further – give them online courses. They really do make the perfect gifts.