2009 Gift Giving Guide: The gift of education

In our third installment of Unclutterer’s 2009 Holiday Gift Giving Guide we’re discussing gifts of knowledge.

Does someone in your life love to learn? If so, consider the following options as uncluttered gifts this holiday season:

  • Give a classic digital education. The History of the English Language, Physics, and Calculus are just three of hundreds of courses offered digitally by The Teaching Company. Lectures from the best professors in the world are perfect for anyone who wishes she paid more attention in high school or college. When I was commuting for an hour a day, Teaching Company courses kept me sane. I greatly enjoyed doing something productive with my time on the road.
  • Take a class together. Has your wife been nagging you to go out dancing more often? Register for a ballroom dancing class together and get her a CD of practice music recommended by the instructor or a pair of required shoes to unwrap announcing the gift. Have you and your friends been talking about taking a cooking class together for ages? Sign up for a class at your local culinary school, favorite restaurant (if they do such things) or cooking store and enjoy the time with your pals.
  • Give the gift of language. You may not be able to fund an entire vacation to France for someone you love, but you can get him prepared for his dream vacation with French lessons from Rosetta Stone. They’re expensive, but incredibly effective. With more than 30 languages to choose from, you can help your gift recipient experience the world.
  • Give the gift of music. Find a local music teacher and pay for someone you love to take music lessons. If you don’t know anyone locally who teaches the instrument or your gift recipient has an already busy schedule, check out sites like Homespun Music Instruction that sell exceptional training DVDs. My husband has the Great Mandolin Lessons DVD and it is phenomenal.
  • Fund a semester. If you can swing it, help a student pay for books, housing, or tuition for a semester. The recipient will always remember your generosity.

Have you given an educational gift in the past or are you planning one for this year? Give us your suggestions in the comments. Also, don’t forget to check out our Unclutterer’s 2009 Holiday Gift Giving Guide Index Page for a listing of all the articles as we publish them.

8 Comments for “2009 Gift Giving Guide: The gift of education”

  1. posted by Adam Jones on

    I respectfully disagree with giving the x-mas gift of education. No gift should create an obligation of time or money. Unless your loved one asks for it, don’t give lessons or classes or instructional DVDs. Otherwise, you will end up wasting their time and your money.

  2. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Adam — Any gift you give requires an obligation on the part of the recipient of time. If you give cash, they have to take the time to spend it. If you give food, they have to expend the time to find a place to store it and then money on energy to cook the item. Not giving a gift is the only way to require nothing of the recipient … and, well, that’s not very giving.

    Additionally, in the post above, not a single item requires the gift recipient to spend a great deal of money. YOU are paying for the classes or DVDs or tuition or whatever it is you are giving. And, obviously, you wouldn’t give such a gift to someone who wouldn’t want something like this.

  3. posted by chacha1 on

    Good grief, Adam, if you’re considering giving a gift of this nature, isn’t it understood that you know the recipient pretty well, and know that they would appreciate it? Erin’s not talking here about picking someone out of the hat in the family or office gift exchange.

    I would have loved for someone to help fund any of the arts lessons I could never afford. That would really have been a gift that stayed with me forever.

  4. posted by Plain Good Sense on

    Love the idea of giving the gift of a class (as a woman, I would LOVE it if my hubby signed us up for dance classes together!).

    One of the best gifts I got (from an ex-boyfriend) was a wine-tasting class. It was awesome! It was something we got to do together one night per week for one month. I think that taking a class with a loved one is a great way to strengthen the relationship – if it is something that interests both of you – because it creates lots of thoughtful discussion during and after the class is over.

  5. posted by zchristy on

    Don’t forget the World Vision Gift Catalogue too. If you don’t know the recipient well enough to buy a class for them, you can give the gift for education of a young woman overseas.

    US readers can use this link: http://donate.worldvision.org/.....tion=10372

    Canadian readers can use this link:

  6. posted by infmom on

    If you’d rather give a gift than pay for a class, buy gifts from organizations whose sole purpose is the advancement of human knowledge. Besides the National Geographic, the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum and other big names, there are plenty of local museums and public libraries that have gift shops. If your library doesn’t have a gift shop, they probably do have Friends of the Library memberships or sell used books at bargain prices.

    Get your cards and ornaments from UNICEF, or Habitat for Humanity, or the American Diabetes Association, or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or similar organizations whose purpose is to make people’s lives better.

    Check SERRV International, Marketplace Handwork of India, the Southwestern Indian Foundation and other organizations that employ people who might otherwise not have much in life.

    Heck, shop at thrift stores run by charities. The items you buy there will help people have better lives, too.

  7. posted by Louise on

    I think paying for part of a college education would be an AMAZING gift. So many students leave school with crippling student loan debt. Any help, especially in the final year, would soften that burden.

    I’ll keep this in mind in the coming years, as nieces and nephews begin and end their higher education!

  8. posted by Anita on

    All good ideas. Since I got into dancing recently, I especially second the dance class idea.

    But please, please, do NOT get someone dance shoes without having them try them first, especially if it would be their first pair! Dance shoes are not like regular shoes, and knowing someone’s size isn’t nearly enough to go by when buying them. So if you really want to give a pair of shoes as well, please make it a gift certificate or go buy them together…

    Info on how to buy dance shoes here: http://www.gottadance.org/buyi.....oes4.shtml

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