The holiday season is always expensive, but the rapid rise in inflation makes it even scarier this year. It has nearly a quarter of Americans looking for holiday shopping.
If you’re among this group, the good news is that there’s plenty of extra work to be done during the holiday season—things like shopping, cooking, crafting, gift wrapping, and holiday decorating.
The holidays are also peak season for pet sitting, grocery delivery and cleaning jobs. And if you don’t mind waiting tables, stocking shelves, or working in a retail store, these jobs also pick up from October to January.
Turn, decorate or hang lights
If you want to help people wrap presents, decorate their homes, or hang holiday lights, your best bet is to print flyers and launch your own website.
While creating a website may sound daunting, simple website builders can get you up and running in an hour for less than the cost of lunch. Do you have photos showing the beautiful decorations and lights you put up last year? Do you have pictures of perfectly wrapped packages under your tree? That, plus some contact and pricing information, is all you need to build your website.
Be sure to use the website builder’s search engine optimization tools to indicate what you do and where. It’s as simple as inserting certain keywords like “holiday lights”, “package wrapping service” or “holiday decorations”. Also plug in your city or service area. This helps potential customers find you when they do a Google search.
Finally, connect your site to your Instagram and Facebook accounts and any other social media sites you frequent. If you’re not already on Nextdoor, be sure to sign up and post an announcement about your service there as well. Contractors say this neighborhood-centric social media site is a great place to find referral business. So, if any of your past clients rave about your past work, let them praise you there.
Those with the passion and skill to make perfect Christmas cookies or gingerbread houses can host a seasonal cooking class on Tastemade. Tastemade invites chefs – professional and amateur – to sign up and host cooking experiences.
You decide when, where and how many people can participate. Classes can be in person, broadcast live or on tape. You also determine the price and the capacity for your class. And you decide if you want to give students a shopping list or include the cost of ingredients in your class price. If the class sells, Tastemade takes a commission from your income.
Make crafts and gifts
If you’ve ever purchased an item from Etsy, you probably know that the site is already on vacation. This platform sells anything homemade, including clothes, jewelry and decorations. And winter decorations, welcome mats and gifts are everywhere. Indeed, the biggest problem new sellers have when listing their crafts and gifts on Etsy is breaking through the plethora of other sellers.
The key here is to take a close look at competition in your niche and find a way to make your product unique or cheaper to boost sales. Obviously, being the cheapest seller can only be justified when you’re still selling for more than your cost and when it’s a short-term solution to building a following. If you are new and need sales and reviews, go ahead and sell at slightly higher costs. Otherwise, differentiate your product with design, personalization and imagination.
Keywords are also important here. Direct is better than clever. Use words that accurately describe what you are offering: Santa Claus wreath; Christmas stockings; Hanukkah menorah; Kwanzaa decorations.
Two-thirds of Americans also travel during the holidays to visit family or enjoy a winter vacation. If you don’t mind watching homes and pets, you can list this service on Rover.
Pet sitters typically charge $25 to $100 per night. If you’re new, it makes sense to list your fees on the low end of this range until you have enough reviews and endorsements to make your pet sitting service stand out. But also know that many Rover sitters have higher holiday rates. So, visit the site as a consumer before setting up your own profile. This allows you to see how your competitors describe themselves, their specialties and prices for their services. If you can make your offering unique and relevant to you – high-energy dog specialist, cat whisperer, boa-boarder, exotic animal lover – you can charge a premium price and still attract a lot of business.
Buy and deliver
Shipt, Instacart, and GoPuff are all busy during the holidays, but a better bet is to set up an account with Dumpling. Dumpling is also a shopping service, but the service provider is in control of where they shop, when they shop and what they charge. Shipt, Instacart and GoPuff simply send orders to their network, where buyers/drivers decide if they want to take the action.
Dumpling charges shoppers around $30 a month to get you started with your own shopping business, providing a credit card, personal webpage and business cards. It allows you to schedule shopping trips around your life, not someone else’s. And this allows you to develop a regular clientele and regular routes. For example, you can do Costco runs every Monday. You can tell customers to get their orders in by Sunday, allowing you to plan your trip, shop for multiple orders, and deliver all in one trip. You set your own service fees. Dumpling charges customers a 5% site fee on the grocery order.
Holiday gatherings often prompt infrequent but necessary deep scrubbing to remove months of grime from everything from light fixtures to ovens and bathrooms. People willing to do this kind of deep cleaning can make good money stepping in and making homes shine before the holidays. The best place to offer deep cleaning services is on TaskRabbit.
Wait tables/staff events
If you have experience bartending, waiting tables, or working a concession stand, you can sign up to a site called Qwick, which enlists freelancers to staff events. The site pays between minimum wage and $30 an hour. Instawork also offers bar and server jobs in 30 cities nationwide.
As holiday shoppers empty store shelves, warehouses and retailers need help stocking shelves. If you want to do this job part-time, BlueCrew is the best option in California. To comply with the state’s strict freelancing laws, BlueCrew hires the workers and allows them to pick and choose between available shifts and clients.
Retail in store
The best place to look for in-store jobs is Indeed, a broad job search site that lets you search by position, location and other factors. Currently, the site features over 11,000 retail jobs in Los Angeles alone. Most jobs are listed with a salary range and basic requirements.
A nice feature here is that you can narrow your search to jobs that are close by and pay what you want to earn. So, instead of scrolling through all 11,000 open jobs, you can narrow your search to jobs within 15 miles of your zip code that pay, say, more than $17 an hour to narrow the search down to a reasonable number.
Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews money-making opportunities in the gig economy.