If you read my post on Friday you learned about how my 83 year old mother, Betty, took a course on how to turn wood a couple of weeks ago. She made a salt box on a lathe without once swearing loud enough to be heard over the machinery.  Point being, you’re never too old to learn something new, unless you’re dead.  Or dull.


You see, the other affliction (aside from lack of muscle memory due to being dead) that can hinder a person’s ability to learn something new, is being relentlessly boring. They’re interested in the basics.  Eat, sleep, watch Game of Thrones.  Repeat.

These are the people I don’t understand.  I immediately assume anyone who doesn’t want to learn something new is super-weird and definitely has a hairball the size of a tuba in their stomach.

And then there’s the category that most people fall into.  The dreamers.  The kind of person who *thinks* about taking courses and learning new things but never follows through.  They really do want to learn new stuff and take courses and maybe even become the most respected dried apple doll making artisan in the land. But they never get around to figuring out how to do it.

This is where you come in.  This is where you help.  This is where you become Supreme Gift Giver of the Year.


This year instead of giving someone a beautiful wood salt box or pepper mill for instance, give them the gift of a woodworking course.  You get all the glory while they, in the end, are actually making their own Christmas gift while you lounge at home eating Fritos and watching Game of Thrones.

It used to be the only way to take a course was to go to a school or a local workshop, but in today’s modern world you can go to Harvard without even putting on pants.

That means there are now 2 choices for learning today:  Online courses or in person courses.  

There are pros and cons to both.



Pros: Convenient to get to (just walk to your computer), inexpensive, access to the best teachers in the world.

Cons:  Some tactile things are better learned in person (making pasta dough for example), if you don’t have a scheduled day and time you HAVE to attend a class it’s easy to put off, often no interaction with instructor if you have questions.  (sometimes online workshops are LIVE events where you do interact with your instructor … I’ve held those at The Art of Doing stuff in fact)

Where to find them:


Here’s a sample of the introduction of Gordon Ramsay’s Masterclass in cooking.


MASTERCLASS also has the option to “Give the Gift of Masterclass“, so whoever is getting your gift can choose whatever they want.

Just as I was leaving my browsing of the Masterclass page I noticed they have an All-Access Pass for $240 (Canadian) where you get access to ALLLLLLL of the classes for a year.

I’m not sure if my enthusiasm for this website is shining through but let me assure you.  I AM ENTHUSED.



Seriously, Udemy is an amazing source for online courses.

There’s a lot of information and a lot of courses (over 55,000).  If you know exactly what you’re looking for the fastest way to find it will be by using their search bar at the top of their homepage.  But if you’d like ideas,  browse around their categories and subcategories and something is sure to pop out at you.


U N I V E R S I T Y    C L A S S E S

Stanford, Yale, Harvard … you can not only take classes from these Ivy League schools, you can actually get certificates from there.

Each University runs their courses differently. Some of them allow you to pay a fee so you can take the course and be credited for it.  If you don’t want actual credits, you can take the classes for free.

You can access all of Yale’s FREE online classes here.

You can access all of Oxford University’s classes here.

You can access all of Harvard’s classes here.

You can access all of Princeton’s free online classes here.

Those are just a few of the prestigious Universities offering courses. If you have a favourite in mind that isn’t on the list then just Google it. Chances are they offer free classes.




Pros: Hands on learning, social experience, you’re more likely to attend all the classes within the set period of time.

Cons:  If you miss a class because you’re sick or busy there’s usually no way to make it up.

Where to find them:

  • Local newspapers.  Even the smallest of villages and towns often have seasonal workshops in things like wreath making or canning.  The local papers are the best place to find these things and you can usually search the papers online.
  • Colleges. If you’re close to a larger town/city then you can also look for courses in local colleges.  My own town has an art school and you can take entire semester long courses in everything from Photography to Art History.
  • Craft shows. Big or small, craft shows are a great place to find otherwise hard to find workshops.  Any makers market will be FULL of potential workshop instructors. The vendors often also give workshops, you just have to ask about them. That’s how we found the woodworking workshop we took. So if you’re at a craft show with someone and they comment on liking something, go back and ask the booth owner if they do workshops.
  • The Old Timers.  Know someone who’d like to learn how to re-tin copper pots or build a dry stacked stone wall?  You’re gonna have to search out the old timers for that.  These skills are becoming obsolete and giving the gift of some old timer knowledge not only results in a present but ensures the passing of knowledge that might otherwise become extinct.  Just find someone who does this sort of thing (they’re getting harder to find) and ask about a price for a lesson.

To really round out these workshop gifts, include a few things that go with the particular gift.  So, a bag of peppercorns and some Danish Tung Oil to go with a woodworking course for a peppermill. Or a set of charcoal pencils for a drawing course.  You get the idea.

p.s. I’d LOVE to learn how to retin copper pots and if you know anyone in Ontario who can teach me, let me know.  Better yet. Get it for me as a Christmas gift.


  1. Carlene says:

    Fantastic info, thanks, Karen! Purchased/gifted several UDEMY classes using your link (hopefully you get credit? and hopefully I did it correctly), and passed along the MasterClass link.

    • Karen says:

      I will get credit! I need to add that to the post. I actually wrote the post prior to realizing I could become an affiliate of both Masterclass and Udemy but have now changed the links so that they give me credit. It was a win win. ~ karen!

  2. Marilyn says:

    Just to mention … Craftsy Unlimited is another option, full access to all Craftsy Classes for one year, except the Master Classes. The cost for this is $18.99 CA per month, or $150 CA per year as a one time payment. I jumped on this generous offer immediately. There are so many Craftsy Classes I want to take, but could not afford to as one off purchases. For people who love to learn and drool over the class offerings at Craftsy, this is the answer. Worth looking into for those who love to make stuff.

  3. Mia says:

    So brilliant–across the board. Bookmarking this post in my “permanent” collection. I’ve taken classes in so many different categories in my life, but got stagnant lately. Thanks for nudge!

  4. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Another option, mostly for gardeners and woodworkers, your local Lee Valley store (if one happens to be lucky enough to have one within reasonable driving distance) offers reasonably priced seminars on many different topics from soapstone carving to pen turning to beginner router to tons of different stuff. Some are hands-on so you get to take home a finished product.

  5. Sabina says:

    Ancora Imparo! I have that tattooed down my side “I am still learning”…great post!

  6. Jo says:

    I have another resource to offer here – EdX – offers courses for universities around the world too, most for free, a bit extra if you want a paper certificate. I’m not sure if all the courses are like the one I explored but it offered online interaction too with both the teacher and the other students from around the world. That was cool.

  7. Agnes says:

    There is also Open University from the UK. This flexible learning organization has been around for many years. Their free courses are here:

  8. Terri J. says:

    Great post with lots of choices! Love your frog pencil holder too!

  9. Karen Ann says:

    Wow! So much information here, all good. Can hardly wait to come out of my self imposed hibernation and start learning!

  10. Lisa says:

    Such a fabulous post Karen. Thanks for a brilliant year and for inspiring some “learning” into the new year. Wonder if there is a snake handling course – would save me a lot of money (so I can move them off my deck and into the garden). :-)

  11. Wendy Torresin says:

    WOW! How wonderful! I had no idea you could get FREE courses from top notch universities! The best Christmas present ever…..thank you. Wendy

  12. Benjamin says:

    You’re the Queen of knowing how to do everything, Karen. Smart and Beautiful… sigh, if only I had been born a power tool in your hands. Lucky Lathe. BTW your Christmas house tour was fabulous. That swag over the mirrors, the white tinsel tree, the creepy riding boots with fake wooden half legs decorating the table… you’re a dream in denim and black nail polish. Never change. ((hugs))

  13. Lois Baron says:

    Our library holds various classes, from DIY crafts to coding. And check out, which has an amazing number of great courses (which I subscribe to at $4.95 a month because I love it so much). Also take a look at, which has classes (the classes are free when they’re released, then some replay free, or you can buy a class. I’ve listened to a lot of business-building classes, and they have photography, life enrichment, tech, etc., etc.). Karen, have you looked for retinning copper pots on YouTube? I was convinced that you can find instructions for anything on there!

  14. Heather says:

    Love ’em all! Here’s another for aspiring photographers:

  15. Heather says:

    You must have read my mind! One of my resolutions for the new year is to learn a minimum of six new skills. I have become stagnant and need to branch out! I SO want to learn how to make wool, hooked rugs…from dyeing and cutting the wool to hooking and finishing the rug. I have looked all around our area and can’t find any classes. Should have known you would be the best resource there is! Next, making stained glass to add transom windows above our doors, old fashioned floor cloths, and then who knows what. Thanks for always sharing your wisdom and enthusiasm with all of us! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas! 🎄

    • Veronica says:

      Learn a minimum of six new skills! I love it.

      I don’t need to replace an antique porcelain sink or re-copper a pot, but you’ve all got me thinking…I now want to search out resources like this and make an online list of them for people. I get it – I love the reactions I get when I tell people one of my hobbies is teaching quilt making. For me, it would be GTA (Ontario, for those who don’t know what that is). Cobblers, hatmakers, wood turners – (covered). My step son-in-law is a custom knife maker. There’s incredible talent out there! We need to share!

      One of those six skills will need to be website info, then perhaps an old fashioned skill.

  16. Kris Wilson says:

    Such great information!! Thanks Karen, and everyone else for sharing! You’ve helped me figure out my New Year’s resolution!
    Merry Christmas all!!!

  17. Alena says:

    If somebody wanted to gift me the woodturning course I would be extremely happy.
    I think my neighbour may have something similar (not a course but a small lathe. He is the best neighbour in the world because not only he lets me borrow anything and everything, he even encourages me to borrow whatever I need (instead of buying it).
    I will have to look into this.

    • whitequeen96 says:

      Where do you live? I want to move next door (on the other side) to your neighbor! He sounds like a peach. Oh, and is he single? :-)

      • Alena says:

        Sorry, I think you are out of luck. He is very happily married (he married his second wife 12 years ago and he is extremely devoted to her). He is approx. 77 years young and even in the depth of [Canadian] winter, you find him behind his snowblower in SHORTS. I have never seen him in long pants – ever.

  18. Jenny says:

    Also check out your local community colleges! The one in our town not only has credit courses like Art History, it also coordinates classes around all the small towns in our area for quilting, beadwork, photography, gardening, etc. etc.! They’re either one-shot classes for a specific project or meet for a few sessions.

  19. Sandra Lea says:

    Great post, I love learning new things. I’m one of those people that actually do sign up for classes, the problem is I want to learn everything so I really only learn a little bit about a lot of things and never quite master anything. But that’s ok, I love it. I recently signed up for a watercolor class on Craftsy and it is very good. And for Christmas I bought myself a ukulele and am teaching myself to play through books.

  20. Nicole says:

    Some public libraries offer access to Udemy courses, I think.

  21. Carolyne of Oakville says:

    You missed Coursera — Coursera provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online.

    It is a place where many universities (including the ones you listed) have courses. Cheap or free.

  22. Ron says:

    Another site for free university courses with pay option for credit at MIT, Berkley UBC, Sorbonne, University of Queensland, TU Delft etc. can be found at

  23. NinaMargo says:

    Karen and everyone, thanks for so many great ideas! My head is exploding! Can’t wait to go down many new rabbit holes for the rest of my life. And take a few people with me.

  24. Katie C. says:

    I don’t know if this is true everywhere, but in my area several of the vocational high schools offer night courses in all sorts of stuff. The school near me offers some single class options and weekly classes in almost every topic you can think of and some you never thought of, like “Connect with Your Spirit Guides” and “Get to Know Your Feet”. I’ve taken cake decorating, pasta making, clam chowder making, drawing, knife skills, and yoga.

  25. Ann says:

    Wonderful post with wonderful ideas.

    Don’t forget Craftsy. There are tons of affordable classes there in many arenas, all crafty of course. Knitting, quilting, painting, ect. The price for each class varies and there are tons of expert teachers in each art form involved. The price may be a bit cheaper than for in person classes for anything, but often we have those that we don’t have a big budget side aside for their gift.

  26. Beth W. says:

    My husband was gifted the Gordon Ramsay Masterclass last year for Christmas. It’s been a wonderful gift to receive – for both of us. Someone has to eat the delicious creations! I’ll answer anyone’s questions if they’re interested :)

  27. Eileen says:

    I belong to Skillshare and there are art, cooking technology classes, etc. we travel so I download my classes to save internet usage and have immediate access to my watercolor classes. I took a historical musical course from Yale whic is stored on on iPod for easy assess for years.

  28. whitequeen96 says:

    Zowie! FREE classes from Yale?! Just think of the “snob value.” You can say things like, “Oh, my Yale class in World Literature is on Friday, so I’m afraid I can’t make your weenie roast next week.” Actually learning from the course is a side benefit! ;-)

    • Leticia says:

      I took Harvard’s Economy 101 from Brazil years ago. It was the best thing I ever did on my commute: understanding a tiny little bit of economy helps you not be overwhelmed by the incompetence of the news, besides, I learned that from Harvard!

  29. Paula says:

    I’d love to know how to reglaze my antique porcelain sink, however; I would settle to know of a place in Ontario where I can pay to have it done :)

  30. Thandi says:

    You read my mind with this post. I am sooooo broke this Christmas, so for my husband’s gift I got him a shirt pattern and some fabric. He’s been nagging me to teach him how to sew, and he’s always complaining that the shirts in the shop don’t fit him well. Ta daaaaaa: bonding time with my human, and he gets to learn a new skill.
    My gift for myself this year is a free beginner’s coding course on Coursera. I have degrees in ancient languages, so I thought maybe it’s time I updated things a bit. Coursera offers university courses from all over the world free of charge

    • Kennedy says:

      Teaching your husband to sew for Christmas is so incredibly sweet it made me rethink my gift to my husband.

      You pretty much summed up what Christmas should be – and it moved me to do something more personal this year.

      Thanks Thandi.

  31. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Great places to learn…also you can learn to do many many things for free on U-Tube!

    • Wendy lemont says:

      Have been taking university classes in person since I was 59,
      program for those 55 and over, best thing I ever did for myself,
      over 800 seniors in the program and a waiting list!!!
      I am definitely a better student than I was in my twenties!!

  32. Kennedy says:

    Karen this was a great post.

    I just perused Masterclass and found a cooking class with Thomas Keller!!!! I can’t express in words how much I love Thomas Keller. I just about broke my neck fetching the credit card.

    I’ll let my husband know he bought it for me on Christmas morning.

  33. Lynn says:

    What a wonderful idea, so much more useful than just giving a pepper mill. I love it.
    Now on to search 🙂.
    🎄Merry Christmas 🎄everyone Best Wishes to you all in the 🎉New Year 🎉

  34. cyril murphy or lofty. says:

    Hi this is very true,I lent to work a wood lathe, by watching people on U Tube, And tacking every thing down that they do. Then jond up to a mans club and on a old lathe, And that is history, Now I still watch my old mates on U tube,and they get back to me for all they do new There is plenty of them on there all over the world. Now we are all good mates. I have made lots of pots,plats,tubs,boxers,legs for tables, Latins, OD shaped Vases. By the way I wont to wish every one on here a Very happy Xmas and New year. All my love Lofty..

  35. WOW! Definitely taking Oxford’s archeology class! Thanks, Karen!!!

    Between Oxford and learning how to use my new router, I think I have the first three months of 2018 covered. 😁

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