Happy holidays everyone! I have one more day of work, and on Christmas day I am heading home to Los Angeles to be with my family. I haven’t been home for Christmas since 2009. I can’t believe it’s been so long! I am so grateful to my partner’s parents who bought both of our tickets, so we could go home this year.

I am taking some time to enjoy family and friends, and will not be working, but in years past, the holidays were a great time to side hustle! If you can’t go home or have nothing to do, go make some extra money 🙂

Here’s a review of what I’ve done to make extra cash during the holidays:

Pet sitter – Three years ago, a neighbor of mine was going out of town for two weeks and needed someone to take care of her pets while she was away. This was actually an exchange, as she had a place to herself (a rarity in NYC) and I thought it was worth it as my partner was coming to town to visit me and we wanted the extra space and privacy. This saved me the discomfort of sharing my cheap twin bed with my bf and 4 other roommates in the house, and saved me hundreds of dollars in possible hotel fees. Last year I got a pet sitting gig from a co-worker. I suggest looking at Craigslist and Taskrabbit for these gigs. Word of mouth is best, though!

Event Helper: At the same time I pet sat in exchange for a place, my boyfriend and I took a gig to help out with cooking and cleaning at a Christmas party. This family was something straight out of a Woody Allen film. I burnt the asparagus and almost set off their fire alarm. Aside from the mishaps, we had a good time, got paid several hundred dollars, got to eat and drink and had an adopted Italian family for a night. Last year and this year I have worked several holiday parties serving food, taking people’s coats, washing dishes and helping clean up. People are stressed about their events/parties, so having someone take care of the small stuff is a huge help. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, there are lots of these gigs out there. I’ve also found these gigs on Craigslist and Taskrabbit.

Brand Ambassador: I love being a brand ambassador (and this is my most read article). I think it’s easy money and most of the gigs are fun. The past few years I have worked holiday promotions for Columbia Sportswear, Ghirardelli, Starbucks and Keurig. You’re really just having a conversation with people; there is no money exchanged, which is awesome. I got lots of free goodies from these gigs too!

Take someone to the airport: I have seriously thought of just having a car for the month of December so I could do this. I can’t count how many gigs I’ve seen for people hiring someone to give them a ride to the airport. I want to be one of those people this year, but I will be a good debt blogger and take the bus instead. This is a great way to make easy money if you have a car and free time! Again, check Craigslist and Taskrabbit.

Gift wrapper/personal shopper: I haven’t done this myself, but I’ve seen gigs for this. We live in a world that if you can afford it, you can outsource anything. Too lazy to wrap your own gifts? No time to shop? Hire someone else! Being flexible and being able to do a variety of tasks can really help you bring in the extra cash.

Sell your art/crafts/baked goods: People are always looking for original gifts, so start letting people know about your knitted sweaters, handmade cards, or homemade caramel. People enjoy buying local and having an interesting story to tell about their gift.

Retail: Two words, seasonal work. Macy’s, the Airport, UPS, FedEx and probably most places in a mall hire extra folks to help out around this crazy time of year.

In short, you don’t just have to spend money during this time of year, you can make it too. A lot of it if you play your cards right. Don’t settle on cheap wages though, because it is still a holiday and you deserve some time to yourself. But if the price is right, go make some extra cash to help kick-start your goals and lessen the damage from your holiday shopping.

Do you make extra money during the holidays? If so, how? Anything else you’d add to the list?

P.S. I know this article is kind of late in the holiday game, but I promise all you bona-fide hustlers that if you really look, you can make some extra money in the next week before the New Year.


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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20 responses to “The holidays are a great time for side hustling”

  1. Pet sitting is a great way to make money over the holidays, if you’re not going anywhere yourself. No body likes to board their pets and professional pet sitters cost an arm and a leg. I have two pet sitting gigs this holiday season and will make over $100 and hopefully get more references to help me find more pet sitting gigs.
    Kasey @ Debt Perception recently posted…Don’t Cancel Christmas!My Profile

  2. Oh, and some people will pay to have Christmas lights put up/taken down.
    Kasey @ Debt Perception recently posted…Don’t Cancel Christmas!My Profile

  3. Morgaine says:

    Those are great tips! I’ve worked p/t jobs on top of my f/t job on many holiday times in the past. One thing I did was to make sure I worked somewhere I could get employee discounts on items I would be able to give for presents. One year I worked at a bookstore and they have a 30% off for employee’s policy. So, everyone got a book that year! Since this time of year can be hard on anyone’s budget, making some extra money is extra helpful. Great post!
    Morgaine recently posted…Weekly Spending Report: Dec 16-22My Profile

  4. I’ve done a couple of those things. Its a great time of year to make money if look around. Everyone needs help this time of year. Enjoy your time in LA! It’s really nice right now!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Merry Christmas/Taking a BreakMy Profile

  5. We spent this holiday on call as couriers and ended up getting paid $250 for nothing! Best side hustle ever!
    Michelle @fitnpoor.com recently posted…My $1k Christmas: Christmas ClubMy Profile

  6. Your family must be missing you so much already, it’s been like what…4 years? I am a parent and there are no words to describe how I miss my any of my children when they can’t visit regularly so we made it a Christmas tradition to be present each year. Now if I may say, you are one busy person during the holidays, aren’t you? That is an admirable trait you have there. I’m sure you will go places!
    Jen @ Frugal Rules recently posted…How to Get out of Debt: Thoughts for the New YearMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      Well, I’ve seen my family in 4 years, just not for Christmas. But it feels SO NICE to be home for the holidays after a 4 year hiatus. It feels special, relaxing, nice and no drama. Just fun, family and friends. I’ll think twice about letting it go this long again. Thanks for your sweet comment, I’m just a hustler that is always looking at ways to make money!

  7. kathleen says:

    I do! I made caramels. 🙂
    kathleen recently posted…2014 New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

  8. That’s a pretty solid list of ways to make money. The grocery stores are even full of people right now, a bunch of people who work there but go off to university are basically getting full time hours right now!
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted…Handbag Gift Idea: Full of SurprisesMy Profile

  9. I’ve also found that a holiday break is a great time to catch up on blogging. These last few days have been a great opportunity to work on a couple projects.
    Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa recently posted…In Depth: cuStudent Loan Consolidation Review (Credit Union Student Loans)My Profile

  10. These are awesome suggestions, M! I picked up some extra freelance work, but it wasn’t technically holiday related so I’m not sure that counts 🙂

    Hope you had a great Christmas!
    Erin @ My Alternate Life recently posted…2013, A Year In ReviewMy Profile

  11. anna says:

    Loved these ideas, Melanie! I think Task Rabbit just started working for the SD region, so I’ll have to check it out – you’ve motivated me to side hustle. Hope you had a wonderful holiday break, my friend xo
    anna recently posted…Being Kinder Than Necessary (and Happy New Year!)My Profile

  12. Thanks for the awesome ideas, Melanie! So very glad you got to go home for Christmas. Hope you’re having a wonderful time. I will definitely be checking Craigslist for some side hustle gigs!
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…Fun New Year’s Eve RecipesMy Profile

  13. Last year I cat sit for a couple of people. I love pets so it was a perfect gig for me. I’ve also done house sitting and mystery shopping at side hustles.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted…6 Tips for Dealing with DisappointmentMy Profile

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