NOT Another THING!
About 15 years ago I told my husband "I really do not want any more things in life, I want new experiences." So I signed up for a tap dance class on my birthday. I worked towards travelling more. I learned to do hand stands.
We need things: clothes, utensils, computers for work and communicating with families, and I feel very lucky when I have the things I need.
But what I enjoy most is that which I can physically do and see and hear.
So as the holiday season approaches (or birthdays, anniversaries, bar or bat mitzvahs, confirmations, et cetera) and you think about the recipient of a gift, think about not just giving a thing, but maybe a new experience.
One of my favorite adult piano students started taking lessons when her husband gave her a gift certificate to the piano studio where I was teaching. The house they bought had a piano come with it, and over the years she would casually say to her family "somebody needs to learn to play that." Her husband took her up on the idea one Christmas, and gave her a gift certificate purchased from the studio for four lessons. She continued lessons from the initial four weeks through five years. She was not trying to become a concert pianist, she was just having fun learning (and I had fun teaching her.)
Before you sign someone up for any classes or music lessons, here are a few guidelines to help you decide if this is a good move.
Has this person ever expressed interest in this class/lessons?
Make sure you are not imposing your interests on someone else.
Does this person have time for the class/lessons?
A single working Mom with four children will probably not have time for practice, unless you are willing to help her make time by chipping in on housework/childcare.
Does this person have the equipment they need?
Dance shoes, a keyboard, guitar, lesson books. BE SURE to check with the instructor before purchasing anything to make sure you are getting exactly what you need.
Check out the teacher or class -- will your giftee like working with the philosophy/personality/goals of the teacher or class?
If your giftee wants to do this for fun, do not choose someone who is pushing students to compete.
What is the refund policy?
Most private music and dance teachers do not refund unless they cannot find a time in their schedule for a student. They may consider transferring the gift certificate to another individual chosen by the giftee. College classes can be refunded within a certain time frame.
Most studios will print out a nice certificate for you to present to your loved one, and you can always wrap up a lesson book (or tap shoes, keyboard,or guitar) to place on the gift table or under the tree.
May your gift giving and receiving be thoughtful and inspiring to all involved!