This story is part of, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.
Gadgets and trinkets might make for fun gifts to open, but odds are in a month or two they'll be collecting dust in the back of a closet. And while gear for someone's hobby makes a great gift, it can be pricey and difficult to navigate unless you're an enthusiast too. Instead, a subscription to an online learning service makes a very thoughtful and lastingly useful gift. And conveniently, they tend to be affordable as well. There are amazing options out there, from classes taught by experts, to online communities that help everyone develop themselves. There are even services geared toward kids. Here are some of our favorite online learning services you can gift (or sign yourself up for) right now.
Whether you're looking to pick up a new skill, or hone an existing one, MasterClass offers a chance to learn directly under the tutelage of experts at the top of their field. From filmmaking tips from David Lynch to cooking classes taught by Gordon Ramsay, there is a class that will pique just about anyone's interest.
If you're looking to get a leg up on your career, or simply work on improving yourself, Udemy is a great (and affordable) resource. It offers a wide array of courses available online, with notes, videos and even assessment tests to track your progress. While there are plenty of courses for creatives, like photography and cooking, there is also a huge selection of business-related classes, covering everything from programming and web development to entrepreneurship to economics.
Compared to MasterClass and Udemy, Wondrium (formerly known as The Great Courses) is more geared toward actual learning than skill development. Sure there are still plenty of amazing courses available about hobbies and trades like baking and woodworking, but there's also so much more. For example, courses that are designed to teach you about history, not how to be a historian. You can learn about the great philosophers of ancient Greece, or the science of astronomy and so much more. Plans given as gifts are available in either three-, six- or 12-month periods, all of which work out to between $12 and $15 a month.
For kids aged 2 to 8, ABC Mouse is a great online resource that makes learning fun. There are more than 10,000 educational activities that cover a variety of subjects, including math, reading and language arts, arts, science and social studies. Plus, there are step-by-step learning programs that help your child progress at their own comfort level. Right now, you can sign up for an annual subscription for just $45, which is 70% less than it would cost you on a month-by-month plan.
Skill Share is less of a collection of lectures and classes, and more of an online learning community (that also offers courses). There are more than 35,000 courses led by everyone from professionals to enthusiasts on a huge variety of both creative and entrepreneurial pursuits. Skill Share is a great platform to not only hone your skills, but also to engage directly with creators and communities that share your passions. If you're so inclined, you can even sign up to teach a course. You can get a one-month free trial then pay $14 a month.