Looking for the best virtual gifts to help someone make the most of their time at home? Look no further. Whether it’s for learning, personal or professional development, entertainment, or just to pick up a new hobby, there are plenty of great choices for instantly deliverable digital gifts. Take a look below to find the right one for someone you know.
Learning and Educational Gifts
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to learn from the best in the world? This is the idea behind MasterClass. A wide range of courses designed and taught by some of the most famous, renowned, and respected luminaries in fields as diverse as cooking, guitar playing, negotiation (hostage or otherwise), fiction writing, film making, and gardening, just to name a few.
Courses are available for individual purchase, or as part of an all-access package that gives you access to every class on the site for a full year. The annual package (which is equal to the price of two individual classes) is a great deal for people with broad interests or those who simply love to learn.
But an annual package might also be the right choice for someone with a single learning interest, since many of the categories on the site (cooking and writing, for instance) have multiple classes taught by different instructors. An annual package allows them to take as many of those classes as they want to.
Not surprisingly, the LinkedIn Learning learning platform is geared specifically toward professional development and career advancement. Whether they want to learn how to use Excel, learn the ins and outs of social media marketing, or even dive into “soft skills” training like developing emotional intelligence and improving communication, LinkedIn Learning has a broad array of classes that can help someone at any stage of the career journey take a big leap forward.
Lumosity is geared toward general brain health and cognitive ability as opposed to learning. Sort of like Crossfit for your brain.
The Lumosity homepage promises that it’ll help you “improve memory, increase focus, and feel sharper” through daily brain games that only take a few minutes to play. The games on the site are split into 7 categories: Speed, Memory, Attention, Flexibility (changing from one task to another), Problem Solving, Word, and Math.
All of Lumosity’s games are developed using the latest scientific understanding of how to improve and maintain cognitive function. Because challenging your mind daily is an important part of preventing dementia, some people think of Lumosity as being strictly for old timers. However, Lumosity claims that people of all ages will see a difference in their cognitive function, and that the games are as relevant for the young as they are for those getting a little longer in the tooth.
According to the Brilliant website, “math, science, and computer science are — at their core — a way of thinking.” Hence, Brilliant promises to teach you how to think like a mathematician, scientist, data analyst, programmer, or other STEM professional. Each course is billed as an “interactive exploration” designed by industry leaders who work and teach at prestigious institutions and corporations like Caltech, MIT, Microsoft, and Google.
Rosetta Stone is still considered the gold standard for language learning, and the program has only gotten better since it went online and became a subscription service (like most training programs have). Their optional one-on-one and group video classes (available at an extra cost) are a great addition for anyone who wants or needs live feedback on pronunciation or would like to be able to ask questions in person. Also, they offer a lifetime all-access package. Basically a dream come true for aspiring polyglots who want to speak all the languages.
GoSkills, like LinkedIn learning, is exclusively focused on professional development. However, there are some key differences between the two platforms.
First of all, while LinkedIn has over 5,000 courses, GoSkills offers (at the time of this writing) 86. But fewer classes don’t necessarily mean less value. GoSkills has a reputation for being extremely selective with who they allow to teach on their platform, and the quality of their courses reflects that.
That’s not to say LinkedIn Learning doesn’t employ highly qualified instructors, because they clearly do. However, LinkedIn tends to have a lot of different courses by different instructors on a single topic, and it’s not always obvious which combination of courses you should take to master a subject as quickly as possible.
With GoSkills, on the other hand, you typically have a clear path to mastery over just a handful of courses. So while LinkedIn definitely gets the nod in variety and breadth of topics, GoSkills offers a more streamlined path to mastering the basics in the topics it covers.
Glo is the unquestioned leader in the world of online yoga classes. With top-notch instructors, live filmed classes, and a plethora of choices in terms of styles, difficulty level, and anatomical focus, Glo has users covered no matter what type of yoga they want to practice. Additionally, Glo’s “discover” feature is great for helping beginners figure out where to start in the virtual sea of videos available on the platform.
The paid version of Spotify does away with ads, allows you to download songs to play offline (instead of having to stream them), and unlocks all kinds of basic features on the mobile app that make it way more useful and enjoyable. If they haven’t yet made the leap from free to premium, this is a great way to give them a taste of what they’re missing. They’ll most likely never go back.
For Apple users — especially those who prefer to own the music they pay for instead of streaming it — consider an iTunes gift card. App Store gift cards are also great for Apple users who might want to explore the infinite repository of games, productivity tools, and other wild creations that is the App Store.
Let the binge watching begin.
The unquestioned choice for cord-cutting television junkies, Hulu allows you to watch all of the major network shows on demand. It also offers optional add-on packages that allow you to watch shows from premium networks like HBO and Showtime.
Video game system gift cards
The real world often disappoints. And sometimes gets shut down altogether. That’s why we have fake worlds to play with, where much more exciting stuff tends to happen anyway. Give them the gift of more Fake World time with a gift card for Nintendo, Xbox, or Playstation.
Some people still prefer to read an old fashioned page-turnin’ book made of paper, glue, and ink. But for many people on the other end of the spectrum, the best thing about books in the 21st century is that you no longer have to read them. Audible is a perfect gift for those people.
Buy a Kindle book on Amazon for someone else. Shoot it instantaneously to their device through the magical ether.
Adobe Creative Cloud is a monthly subscription service that gives digital creatives access to the world’s best visual creative software. Different packages provide unlimited access to industry-standard software for photographers, graphic designers, video editors, illustrators, and more.
After all these years, Pro Tools is still the industry standard for music recording, particularly at high-end recording studios.
For Mac users, Logic Pro is the digital audio workstation (DAW) of choice. While it’s not found in as many high-end studios, it’s every bit as powerful as Pro Tools and comes at a fraction of the cost (not counting the Apple computer you need to run it on). The software of choice for millions of bedroom composers around the world.
Autodesk 3D Modeling and Design Software
Autodesk makes top-of-the-line digital design and modeling software for professionals in a variety of fields, including architecture, engineering, animation, and video game creation. All of their products are available as monthly, 1-year, or 3-year subscriptions. Some of the most popular programs are:
- Autodesk 3DS Max (design visualization, games, and animation)
- Autodesk AutoCAD (for architects, engineers, and construction professionals)
- Maya (3D animation, motion graphics, and visual effects (VFX))
With all of the free news sites available on the internet, many people are hesitant to pay for a news subscription. But for anyone who needs to stay abreast of business and financial news, the Wall Street Journal is a must.
The New York Times proves that the old “gatekeeper” model (you know, the practice of only hiring real journalists, and relying on certified experts who can be counted on to know what they’re talking about) is not only still relevant today, it arguably has an even more important role in counterbalancing the awesome wackiness of the internet. It’s called “The Newspaper of Record” for a reason.
Sometimes you just want to say hi and make someone’s day. Virtual flowers let you do that instantly, from anywhere. And best of all, unlike real flowers they last forever. And they’re free. And they require no watering. In fact, that’s important. Please don’t water them.