How to Make Money During the Holidays

By Jackie Lam
November 30, 2020

Between quarantine, social distancing restrictions, and maybe-too-many DoorDash orders, parts of 2020 seemed to stretch on… and on. 

Yet – ready or not – the holidays always find a way to sneak up on us. But hey, even if you’re too cash-strapped for merrymaking, there’s no need to hide under a rock and play crabby recluse until the new year.

After all, some side hustles require little equipment, know-how, and also typically ramp up this time of year. So let’s take a look at 10 ways you can make it rain this holiday season.

  1. Babysit online so maxed-out parents can take a nap
  2. Be a Zoom specialist and organize a Secret Santa
  3. Deliver takeout around the town
  4. Put on a toolbelt and take up handy work
  5. Turn your unwanted stuff into gold
  6. Sell those unwanted gift cards
  7. Put your maker’s hat on and start selling crafts or baked goods
  8. Be one of Santa’s helpers and do deliveries for Amazon
  9. Be a friend-for-hire and make someone’s day
  10. Test a product or take an online survey

Babysit online so maxed-out parents can take a nap

With parents juggling the WFH life while tending to kids, it’s pretty safe to say there’ll be demand for childcare during the holidays.

But while providing virtual childcare is certainly not the same as IRL, you also don’t put Paw Patrol on repeat while the kids stare at their screens. You’ll need the same basic skills — previous experience, a love for kids, and the ability to engage in fun activities while the parents are preoccupied. Think — dance party, read-along, improv comedy hour, or interactive puppet show!

💰How much it pays: On some sites, sitters decide on their rates. But you can expect to make an average of $16.50 an hour. Sessions usually last an hour or two.

How to get started: You can set up an account on free virtual babysitting sites like VeeBee and SitterCity and Care.com.

Be a Zoom specialist and organize a Secret Santa

Yes, this is a thing. Zoom video conference specialists are typically hired to help facilitate work meetings, conduct job interviews, or take notes in a meeting.

But as more holiday gatherings will be held over video this year, you might be able to make some cash by hosting festive parties. It could involve organizing breakout rooms for gift exchanges, games, or helping less tech-savvy folks find their way through the Zoom platform.

💰How much it pays: According to the freelancing platform Upwork, Zoom specialists make anywhere from $35 an hour plus.

How to get started: You can set up shop on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork.

Deliver takeout around the town

With food delivery seeing a boom due to Covid-19, you can up your income by delivering groceries or take-out. And since the weather is about to be colder + more people may want to stay indoors = more demand for deliveries.

💰How much it pays: It can vary quite a bit. For example, Instacart only guarantees a minimum of $7 to $10 per batch of deliveries. However, you can potentially make a lot more. And earn tips.

How to get started: You can open an account, set up a profile, and sign up to deliver food on any platform: like Instacart, Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, or others.

Put on a toolbelt and take up handy work

Are you a natural tinkerer, builder, or someone who can patch things up? Have some experience under your belt? Then you probably won’t have much trouble finding handy work through online platforms. And, again, people may not have as much time to fix that broken dishwasher or tackle those IKEA instructions over the holidays – which means more opportunities for you.

💰How much it pays: According to TaskRabbit, a handy person’s hourly rate starts at $40. But the rate depends on the level of skills, whether they have tools, a vehicle to lug things around; that sort of thing. Some Taskers set a minimum number of hours per gig so – depending on your expertise and price – you may be able to earn say $80 per gig.

How to get started:  If you have tools or equipment, it’ll up your odds of getting hired. Plus, you might be able to charge more. You can create an account and advertise your skills on a platform like TaskRabbit, ThumbTack, or Porch.

Turn your unwanted stuff into gold

Dust off gently used clothing, knick-knacks, or other sell-worthy items and share them to online marketplaces like Ebay, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, or OfferUp. Own something new and still in the package? Even better. 

Pro tip: You can make more money selling things online if you have some insider knowledge of what might be valuable in certain groups and/or you own collectible items. For instance, you might know a lot about vintage stickers, or designer toys from Japan. 

💰How much it pays: It depends on what you’re selling, how much you have to sell, and how much time you have to invest in it.

How to get started: Open an account on an online marketplace, snap some pics of the item you want to sell, and put up a listing.

Sell those unwanted gift cards

Want to get rid of gift cards to department stores you don’t really shop at? Yup, there are some places that’ll buy ‘em—even partially-used! You can either cash in for most/all of what your gift card is worth, or swap it out for a different one. In the second scenario, you might be able to scoop up a card that has a greater value than what you have in tow.

💰How much it pays: It depends on the retailer and site you’re selling them on. For example, CardCash, Raise, and Cardpool offer up to 92% of your card. 

How to get started: Rummage through your drawers, your wallet, or anywhere else an old card might be hiding.

Put your maker’s hat on and start selling crafts or baked goods

Eating at home, cooking more, and watching YouTube cooking tutorials has turned us all into star bakers. From people turning their home kitchens into small bakery businesses to home chefs taking orders for their unique delicacies, the holidays can be an opportune time to make some extra cash for goodies.

💰How much it pays:  It depends on what your specialty is and how much you can reasonably bake in a given stint of time! For instance, if your home-baked holiday cookies go for $20 a dozen, and you sell six dozen in one day, you’re looking at $72 in extra cash.

How to get started: Unlike some other side hustles that require minimal investment, starting your own business can take a bit more time and money upfront. It’s totally up to you whether this kind of gig sounds like fun—or way more trouble than it’s worth.

Be one of Santa’s helpers and do deliveries for Amazon

While some major retailers might be scaling back their seasonal hiring, Amazon for sure won’t be. In fact, there was a hiring push to bring on 100,000 more workers to boost their seasonal staff. And there are a few roles to choose from: working in the warehouses in fulfillment, where you pack and ship orders; or delivering goods to homes and businesses. 

💰How much it pays: Amazon pays its workers a minimum of $15 an hour.

How to get started: Fill out an application on Amazon’s website

Be a friend-for-hire and make someone’s day

You don’t need special schooling or to have gone to trade school to be a good friend. Heck, you don’t need certain skills, either. You just have to be willing to meet new folks and spend time with them!

It may sound strange, but you could single-handedly turn someone’s bout of holiday blues into festive cheer. How? Through being rented as a friend. Socially distanced meetups or Zoom hang time might be more appropriate this year. You could even get paid to keep someone company virtually while they’re working from home. 

💰How much it pays: You set the rates and you actually handle payment with the rentee outside of the platform.

How to get started: Set up a profile on RentAFriend. It takes about 10 minutes and it’s free. 

Test a product or take an online survey

While online paid surveys are not known to be very profitable, research projects conducted online are a different story. In some cases, you can get paid well for just a few hours of your time. What’ll you do? It depends: You might need to test out a new product, or offer your opinions or political viewpoints. There are a range of needs — which means there’s a good chance you’d make a great fit for something.

💰How much it pays: Sign up through a research firm’s website. Sometimes all it takes is connecting to your Facebook account. 

How to get started: It depends on the study or focus group and the research firm. Some projects have larger budgets, and some might be more involved. You’ll be compensated accordingly. For instance, FocusGroup.com offers anywhere from $75 to $150. Respondent can offer anywhere from $60 to $100 an hour. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less.

Remember: Safety and healthy always come first

It’s pretty awesome—all the things you can do to up your cash flow. But a quick reminder: Health and safety come first at all times. No matter how you decide to make money this holiday season, keep social distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent hand washing top of mind. And if you have any symptoms, stay home and get tested for COVID-19.

As long as you’re safe, making holiday money doesn’t have to be a hassle. In fact, these gigs can be simple, and some can even be done at home. It doesn’t need to take away from having fun or spending quality time with your tribe this year!

Jackie Lam is an L.A.-based financial writer whose clients include Fortune 500 companies and FinTech startups. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Business Insider, and GOOD.

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