Lots of people take on a second job or a side gig during the holidays. Between gift-giving, party-throwing and massive-batches-of-cookies-making, the extra cash comes in handy.
If you’d like to try something a little different this year, check out some of these outside-the-box ways people have earned extra cash during the holidays. You may find one that’s right up your alley, or you may have an idea for your own unique holiday gig.
1. Deck Someone Else’s Halls
Clark Griswold, step aside! Not everyone enjoys (or has time for) decorating, which is where you can come in.
“A buddy of mine used the TaskRabbit app, where you sign up for jobs to earn cash,” says David Bakke, a writer for Money Crashers. “He made a good bit of money over the holiday season doing gift shopping for other folks. He also made some cash hanging Christmas lights.”
You could take home a decent chunk of change helping people with their holiday projects — Bakke says his friend earned around $150 using TaskRabbit. Just think of something people hate doing over the holidays — tree trimming, party planning, cleaning the house for guests — and that’s something you can probably get paid to do.
2. Get the Party Started
The holidays involve a lot of parties, both private and corporate. And plenty of those parties are looking for entertainers and performers. If you’re great at music, magic, comedy or other entertaining skills, offer your services through sites like Gig Salad and get paid to bring some holiday joy.
“Around the holiday season, we receive thousands of gig leads for Santas, singing telegrams, Christmas carolers, impersonators, musicians, comedians and costumed characters, says JoAnna Carpentier, Brand Ambassador for Gig Salad. “There are hundreds of thousands of holiday parties happening across the nation — you can be paid to entertain at those parties! After all, Santa doesn’t just stop at the local malls – he makes house visits, too!”
To give you an idea of how much you can make, current Santa Claus bookings on Gig Salad range anywhere from $50 to $400 depending on the date, length of performance and event size.
3. Pass Out Samples
If you like being around people, you might have fun working as an in-store promoter or product demonstrator (you know, the people who pass out all those yummy samples in the aisles of your local grocery store).
Lynn Heisel was on the demo staff of an upscale specialty store in Chapel Hill, NC before starting her own demo company, Demo-licious! “It’s a fun job if you like talking to people,” she says, but you do need a healthy dose of patience.
“Most of the customers were very nice, but some were definitely entitled. I remember a few Saturdays before Christmas, my boss thought it would be a great idea to dip shortbread cookies in melted chocolate so the store would smell like chocolate. It certainly did . . . and people absolutely lost their minds! All but sticking their heads right in the melted chocolate. True story: I had to have a ‘bodyguard’ to keep people respecting my boundaries and had to leave the floor twice an hour because of the overwhelm.”
Deborrah Cooper, who worked for Harmless Harvest demonstrating organic coconut water in Costco, agrees that a thick skin is necessary and adds that good shoes and a good back are important as you’ll be on your feet for several hours. However, “some of the people are really nice and interesting and share wonderful bits of their life with you … [there’s] a real human connection. And the money is not bad considering the work is not difficult.”
4. Wrap It Up
Do you have a way with ribbons and bows? Get paid to help out less adept (or simply super busy) holiday shoppers by providing a gift-wrapping service.
Organizational specialist Jamie Novak does just that. “The day after Thanksgiving, I launch my on-the-spot gift wrapping service,” she says. “I drive to a client’s home and wrap their gifts for them, or they can drop them off to me. I have tons of wrap, ribbons and bows on hand and take the job off the person’s to-do list.”
Novak charges $20 per hour, plus $10 for travel outside a 15-mile radius. She’s employed some savvy business tricks to market this service, like advertising at a local pediatrician’s office (“busy Moms with sick children find the service really helpful”) and sending coupons to her client list at the start of each holiday shopping season.
5. Host Furry Houseguests
The holidays often involve travel, and for many people, that means leaving their beloved pups behind while they visit friends and family. But some dogs don’t do well in crowded, impersonal kennels — and some dog owners don’t do well envisioning their four-legged friends there.
Enter dog-sitting sites, where pet lovers charge to watch dogs in their homes while their owners are away. Dogs gets lots of personal TLC, and owners can rest easy with regular updates on how their pets are doing. If you’re a dog lover who plans on staying home this holiday season, it could be a great way to bring in some extra cash.
“Rover sitters make around $35 a night per dog,” says Pete Bahrenburg, a spokesperson for the dog-sitting site. “Some people just do it for a couple extra bucks and sit one dog every few nights. Others take in multiple dogs every day and make a full living through the platform!”
“I charge $48 per day, so it varies by how many dogs I am watching at a time,” says Marnee Carpenter, a host for the site DogVacay. “I had 13 reservations this past month, and I work about 15 days a month. I put the money toward my smaller bills and spending money, and it’s great to have that bonus for weekend travel.”
6. Install Money-Making Apps
Never far from your smartphone? It could be your ticket to some extra spending money.
“I have been working odd, weird gigs in my spare time and make money by taking on small jobs around my location that pay from $3 to $12 each,” says Jodi Jill, author of Make Money on Your Phone: Apps That Offer Gigs to Earn Cash. “ I literally just came back from Rite Aid after checking an end cap display for a name brand razor. Answered 9 questions, took a picture and I have $6.50. I will use my lunch hour to check other stores today, too.”
Bakke recommends the Shopkick app, “which pays you ‘kicks’ that can be redeemed for gift cards just by scanning the UPC code of various products. It’s a great way to make money while you’re out doing your holiday shopping.”
For a list of more great mobile apps that help you earn cash, see this post.
Your Turn: Do you have any creative ways to earn extra cash for the holidays? Share your ideas in the comments!
Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.