Would you like a little more jingle in your pocket this holiday season? Who wouldn’t – given that consumers who went into debt over the holidays added an average of more than $1,000 in new debt in 2017.
One of the best ways to avoid starting the new year with a debt holiday hangover is to grab a side gig, even if it’s only for a few weeks. And don’t worry: It’s not too late. Here are a dozen seasonal hustles that are perfect for a variety of ages, skills and schedules.
Holiday Side Gig 1: Retail Help
Retailers are expecting strong sales, and that means stores are more in need of seasonal help than ever. In early predictions, retailers expected record hiring of more than 700,000 seasonal workers. While many might already have their staff in place, the good news (for you) is that retailers are almost constantly looking for new help, as workers flake out or unexpectedly need time off right when stores are busiest. Reach out to malls, big-box stores and even boutiques to see if they need one more dedicated worker either before the holidays or during the hectic post-season sales scramble. The great news is that many are offering wages that are higher than ever — the 2018 Annual Holiday Hiring Survey from Snag, a marketplace for hourly positions, found that employers were planning to pay their seasonal elves an average of $15 per hour.
Holiday Side Gig 2: Grocery Shopping
As panicked hosts choose a menu or bakers realize their butter supply is dwindling, many turn to outside hands to handle last-minute grocery runs. Most major grocery chains have their own services, or you can check into an app like Instacart that will send you to a variety of stores near you.
Holiday Side Gig 3: Pet Sitting
As your neighbors plan to head out of town, they might realize they forgot to get a kennel reservation for Fido or that Fluffy would really prefer to sleep on her own couch all week, thank you very much.
Let them know you’re available to feed, water and love their pets — and bring in their mail and packages while you’re at it — so they have one less thing to worry about as they head out on vacation.
Holiday Side Gig 4: Being a Friend
No, it’s not as pathetic as it sounds. Services like RentALocalFriend and ToursByLocals pair visitors with locals so you can give them the inside scoop on your awesome town. It’s the perfect time of year to offer your services, as many hosts may not have the capacity to give tours to their visiting friends and family.
Holiday Side Gig 5: Professional Line Sitter
You sit in line and wait for something someone else wants — sneakers, concert tickets, video games, etc. Yes, this is a thing. A very lucrative thing, in fact, with some people claiming that they make up to $35 per hour. Check into apps like InLine4You or Skip the Line (DC only).
Holiday Side Gig 6: Hall Decker
Yes, also a thing — decking someone else’s halls. Whether you are able to hang (or take down) lights or want to trim a tree or fluff bows, homeowners are paying $100 to $150 an hour to services that take care of the decorating details.
As the clock ticks down to party season and family celebrations, businesses that perform decorating services may well be needing extra hands to make their clients’ homes festive. Go out on your own by posting an ad on Thumbtack, Craigslist or Nextdoor, or search for decorating services in your region to see if they are still hiring. Be sure to let the owner know you’re also available for tear-down work, as undecking the halls might be even more in demand.
Holiday Side Gig 7: Secret Shopper
Sick of being ignored by condescending clerks? Being a mystery shopper allows you to tell the company exactly what you think of their employees’ help — and get paid for it! Sign up with companies like SecretShopper or SecondToNone to find opportunities in your area. If you’re braving the traffic and parking lots anyway, it only makes sense to have someone compensate you to do your own shopping, too.
Holiday Side Gig 8: Party Help
Whether it’s plating appetizers, taking coats, serving food or washing dishes, many hosts crave an extra pair of hands to help them get things done so they can enjoy their guests. Ask around at local caterers to see if they need assistance or post your availability on local social media websites.
Holiday Side Gig 9: Photographer
As holiday cards arrive in the mail, it’s not uncommon for parents to wish they’d put together their own greeting. Or, families holding reunions would love a chance to capture the moments when Great Aunt Hilda and little Gabby were both together. Once relegated to studios or professionals with thousand-dollar cameras, professional-grade photography has become far more achievable for someone with a decent camera and some photo-editing skills. Consider putting together packages for families who come to downtown holiday festivities or offering your services at the location of their choice. Post your availability on local websites and put flyers on mailboxes and in coffee shops and grocery stores to reach last-minute clients.
Holiday Side Gig 10: Toy Assembler
Santa has his elves, but parents have … well … just their own two left thumbs. It’s startling how many toys start their life as a bunch of pieces and parts, sometimes with only the sketchiest of directions included.
If you have a knack for building doll houses, bikes, wagons and other toys, you can truly be the one to save Christmas morning for many a frustrated parent. Find out if toy stores will hand out your contact information — it might even help them sell more of those hard-to-put-together sets — or advertise on local websites and post flyers in coffee shops, preschools, daycares and other places where young families convene.
Holiday Side Gig 11: Delivery Help
Whether it’s brown trucks or white vans, chances are good you’ve seen package-delivery vehicles roaming your neighborhood. Delivery positions are a great flexible option to check out as would-be Santas fill their online sleighs. One place to start is Amazon Flex, which advertises hourly rates of $18 – $25.
Holiday Side Gig 12: Stuff Seller
Last but not least is a money-making gig that does triple duty — it cleans out your closets and drawers, makes you extra cash and fulfills someone else’s holiday gifting dreams.
“Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure,” rings true every day of the year, but particularly at the holidays. Maybe someone has been looking for a Rescue Hero for the nostalgia value, needs one more vintage plate to complete a collection or would love to wear that sequined sweater out on the town. You can turn to standbys like Craigslist, but also look into specialty sites like Poshmark for designer clothes, Glyde for electronics and RubyLane for vintage items.
Whether the extra cash you earn goes to gifts for family or friends (or yourself!), or you’re saving up for a 2019 goal like boosting your emergency fund or saving up for a down payment on a house, the holiday season is the perfect time to make a little cash — and have some fun doing it.
How do you plan to earn some extra cash this season? Let us know in the comments below!
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