Decorating for Christmas: A Chore for Some. A Side Gig for You
For many Americans, inflating the 12-foot Frosty the Snowman, untangling strings of Christmas lights and setting up the reindeer display on the front lawn are merely tasks on a never-ending holiday to-do list.
It’s a hassle big enough to spark a trend for residents and businesses alike: leave the decorating to someone else.
For you, an entrepreneurially-minded go-getter, that means job opportunities – perhaps the most festive gigs of the season.
Here are a few ways to find holiday decorating jobs.
Find Christmas Decorator Jobs Locally as a Freelancer
Helping neighbors with tasks they don’t want to do is the bedrock of side gigs. While the door-to-door approach is always an option, be sure to check out these locally-focused online platforms that make getting in touch with people in your area a little bit easier.
Synonymous with online classified ads, Craigslist is an invaluable resource for finding and listing local odd jobs. For holiday decorators, three features are especially helpful: “Gigs,” “Jobs” and “Services.”
Finding local work is free through the Jobs and Gigs features. Simply click the corresponding section from the homepage, and a list of local moneymaking opportunities will appear. (The website uses your IP address to automatically tailor the search to your locale.) The distinction between the two features is that a gig may be a one-time offer from a neighbor, whereas a job listing may be posted from a nearby business.
The Services feature, basically a looking-for-work ad, is where a little money will be involved. Typical listings on that section cost $5, but it’s a fairly cheap way to get the ball rolling.
If you’re shelling out cash for an ad, be sure to include key details. What specific decorating services are you offering? What’s your hourly rate? Do you provide supplies or decorations?
Unless otherwise specified, all communication through Craigslist is anonymous. When creating a listing, you can specify in the description when and how people can contact you (at your own risk).
Nextdoor is a social media website for entire neighborhoods. Locals can connect on the website to chat about goings-on about town, buy and sell tchotchkes and get recommendations for nearby businesses or services. That last feature is especially useful for spreading the word about your holiday-decorating enterprise.
To join Nextdoor, you’ll need to verify your street address and use your full name. Don’t worry. Your address won’t be public facing. It’s used to categorize you in the correct general neighborhood on the website.
Before you start firing off posts about your decorating skills, know the rules. You won’t be able to offer your services in the “For Sale & Free” section. Only tangible goods are sellable there. Instead, you’ll be able to woo locals who are specifically looking for business recommendations.
If you have some money to spare, consider making a business page and posting in the “Local Deals” section. While making a business account is free, posting in Local Deals isn’t. That’s the only section where you will be able to share unsolicited information about your business or service. Prices start at $3 but vary based on how long the ad runs and how large your neighborhood is. An average ad costs $75, according to estimates from Nextdoor.
TaskRabbit works like most freelance websites except that it focuses on “help around the home,” including personal assistance, errands, cleaning – and, yes, inflating Frosty.
Becoming a Tasker, as it’s called, is free. During the sign-up process, you will be prompted to create a profile, explain your services in detail, set your rates and plan a work schedule. Once your profile is ready to go, locals will be able to view it, book you or reach out with questions.
Potential clients will be able to see your reviews and previously completed tasks, as they’re displayed prominently next to your name in the search results and on your profile. New users may find it difficult to land initial Christmas decorator jobs due to a lack of those two distinguishing elements.
To combat that condondrum, ensure that your profile is well-written and that you have priced your services competitively. If you’ve received feedback or recommendations elsewhere, include them in your profile description until you rack up reviews on TaskRabbit.
Because TaskRabbit is a relatively small freelance platform, it may be worth expanding your services to include other holiday-related chores.
There are no fees involved to list services on the platform, but TaskRabbit does take a 20% cut of the earnings for all completed tasks.
The company was founded in 2008 in Boston. It has since expanded to include Taskers in 70 major metropolitan areas in the U.S and Europe. Before signing up, ensure that your city is on the list of available locations.
Work for a Business That Hires Holiday Decorators
If you’d rather not fish for clients as a freelancer, consider working for a local company that offers decorating services around the holidays.
With a typical part- or full-time decorating job, you’re likely to earn a lower hourly wage than freelancing, but you’ll have the benefits of predictable schedules and earnings. And considering that decorating can get dangerous — there are about 200 decorating injuries a day during the holidays, according to government estimates — having worker’s compensation coverage might be a welcome trade.
As with most job hunts, starting on Indeed or Glassdoor is a good idea to get the lay of your local job market. Check your local jobs section on Craigslist for temporary positions as well.
If you’re not seeing any listings for temp or seasonal decorating gigs on the traditional job boards, check in directly with local businesses. One way to do that is to search for holiday decorating services on Angi, which aggregates local business recommendations. The website will generate a list of nearby companies that offer holiday decoration services. Then you’re free to contact them to see if they need help.
Launch Your Own Holiday Decorating Business
Perhaps you’re ahead of the curve and have already amassed a pool of jolly clients. The next natural step may be to scale it into a business. There’s a market for it. And there’s support along the way.
Just ask Josh Trees, owner of We Hang Christmas Lights. (And yes, that’s his real name.)
Trees launched his Christmas-lights-hanging endeavor in 1997. By 2000 – and despite many hiccups – he was netting nearly $140,000 a year in profit. These days, he travels across the country with a tiny home in tow to teach entrepreneurs how to launch lights-hanging businesses of their own.
“When we first started doing this, people were like, ‘Oh, that’s a cute little business,’” Trees told The Penny Hoarder. “We were like, ‘Yeah, cute,’ — you don’t realize people are paying us $3,500 to put lights up on their houses.”
And on Dec. 26 …
We can think of one task more thankless than putting up Christmas decorations: taking them down.
After the holidays have passed and the tinsel is starting to sag (and maybe your gut), be sure to contact your Christmas decorating clients and offer to come back and respool the lights, deflate Frosty and box it all up for next year.
Adam Hardy is a reporter and editor based in St. Petersburg, Florida. He covers personal finance, the gig economy, government benefits programs and other ways to make and manage money, and is a former staff writer for The Penny Hoarder. Connect with him on Twitter @hardyjournalism.