Grow Your Program
Why You Should Promote Experiences as Gifts and How to Do It for Christmas Shoppers
With the holiday gift-giving season approaching fast, arts organizations are looking for ways to promote their classes to Christmas shoppers and those celebrating other winter holidays. The good news is that many people are already on board with the idea of giving experiences as gifts. What holds them back is often the logistics. It’s easy to stick a video game under the tree, but how do you package violin lessons?
Help holiday shoppers give the gift of an experience like classes or tickets to a performance by highlighting all the reasons these make great gifts.
Arts organizations can help holiday shoppers give the gift of an experience like classes or tickets to a performance by highlighting all the reasons these make great gifts.
If you want Christmas shoppers and other gift-givers to consider purchasing classes for friends and family, you first need to highlight all the reasons your classes make great gifts. Then you have to support the gift-giving experience by helping them package their gift in a way that feels meaningful. We’ll address this one step at a time.
Reasons to Give Experiences as Gifts Rather Than Stuff
Consumer Reports found that, among all age groups, people derive more happiness from experiences than from material goods. The desire for quality time with friends and family has increased more than ever since the pandemic. Even so, Christmas shoppers may not think of your classes or performances as possible gifts unless you explicitly make the connection for them.
Giving experiences as gifts gives the recipient skills or memories that last a lifetime. It’s also more eco-friendly and a great last-minute gift option!
Here are some ways you can frame your marketing messages to reach Christmas shoppers and other gift-givers:
A gift for a lifetime. As children grow up, they may fall out of love with this year’s trending toy, but they’ll always have the skills they learned in pottery class. Creating something with your own hands is exciting no matter what your age. Young children can get a kick out of making art to hang on the family fridge, while teens may be excited to learn how to knit a scarf themselves. Creative aging programs are built upon the idea that older people want to continue to build skills as they age, as well.
Give the gift of connection. Our world is suffering from a loneliness epidemic. A new poll found that nearly 1 in 4 adults feel lonely, with the rates highest among young adults ages 19 to 29. Participating in art classes and activities helps provide a sense of community and connectedness. This is especially important for certain populations like veterans.
It’s more eco-friendly. A recent study by NielsenIQ found that 78% of U.S. consumers say that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them. If you know your community is environmentally conscious, play up that angle in your class marketing efforts. An educational experience beats unwanted material goods ending up in the trash.
Experiential gifts are a smart last-minute option. Let’s face it: the holidays are a busy time of year. It can be tough to shop, wrap, and ship gifts in time. If you have rolling admissions for your classes, open seats at an upcoming performance, or other opportunities available that would make good gifts, let your customers and community know. Then all they have to do on the actual holiday is give the recipient a card or email notifying them of their gift.
Experience Gifts for Couples: Classes They’ll Love
Offering couples classes is a great way to attract customers who want to give experiences as gifts. Cooking classes, ballroom dancing, and jewelry making are all good gift experiences for couples, but those are just the beginning. Mixology classes, a terrarium workshop, or anything else couples can do together make great gifts.
From cooking classes to jewelry making to mixology, offering couples classes is a great way to attract customers who want to give the gift of quality time and connection.
CourseStorm’s head of marketing, Nic, and her husband attended a restorative foraging class in their community. Guided by a sustainability expert from a local university, they walked around outdoors and identified lots of native and non-native plants and learned about how to process acorns for acorn flour. “It was fascinating to learn about foraging through this lens and to try something new,” she said.
Pro tip: Offering couples classes is also a great way to boost your website’s SEO and help people find your classes online. “Couples classes near me” is a very popular search term, so if you offer couples classes, be sure to state this clearly on your website, in your online course catalog and course descriptions, and on your social media platforms.
For more specifics, read our article on how to promote couples classes for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays throughout the year.
Christmas Shoppers Want Something to Wrap
Even Christmas shoppers who are already convinced that giving experiences as gifts is a good idea may hesitate because they want the recipient to have something to unwrap. Many people find joy in watching someone unwrap a gift. This is especially true for people giving gifts to kids. Help shoppers overcome this obstacle by offering something tangible to go with the experiential gift.
- Branded merch – If you already have branded merchandise, offer a magnet, mug, tote bag or tee-shirt to anyone purchasing classes as gifts during the holiday season.
- Gift shop merchandising – If your organization has a gift shop, set up a small section with inexpensive gifts relevant to different classes. This could include pencils and a sketchbook for an art class, an adult and child apron set for a cooking class, or Shakespear magnets and stickers for a theater class.
- Printed certificates – Printed certificates can be placed in an envelope or even wrapped in a box with some tissue paper. Print some fillable certificates on high-quality paper and give them away with gift orders.
Many people find joy in unwrapping and watching others unwrap a gift. Help holiday shoppers by offering something tangible to go along with the experience they’re gifting.
Even if your organization doesn’t offer these things, with a bit of imagination, you can help your customers come up with a tangible item to gift alongside the experience. Here are just a few ideas:
- Paintbrushes, pencils, or pastels along with a sketchbook for someone you’re gifting a session of art classes
- Funny Shakespeare magnets or stickers for a teen you’ve signed up for theater camp
- An adult and child apron set to go along with a grandparent-and-grandchild cooking class
- A basket of colorful yarn for someone enrolled in a knitting or crochet class
- A monogrammed journal for a person you’re giving a writing class or poetry workshop
- Safety glasses or work gloves to go along with a wood or metalworking workshop at a makerspace
For more creative and unique ideas to go with your experiential gifts, check out UnCommon Goods and MoMA Design Store. Visitors can search by interest, price range, recipient, and even eco-friendly products.
Making it easy for people to give your classes as gifts, such as by offering group registrations and promo codes, is a smart marketing strategy all year round.
Making it easy for people to give your classes as gifts is a smart marketing strategy all year round. Consider offering discounts or promo codes to encourage gift-giving, and allow group registrations to simplify the process for students who want to give and take a class with a loved one. CourseStorm has all of these features and more.
Abby has overseen content development for higher education degree programs related to education, technology, business, and healthcare. One of her first jobs after college was working with children’s programs for the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She is an experienced and versatile writer and editor whose work has been published by Johns Hopkins, the University of Baltimore Alumni Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune.