Family & Finances

10 side hustle ideas for the holidays

The holidays are here and you want to indulge yourself and loved ones—without incurring a debt hangover. Well, a side hustle may just be the golden goose you’re looking for! It might even provide a way to feel useful and less lonely. As long as you have a smartphone and willingness to hustle, you’re sure to find something that matches your skill set, personality and schedule.
  1. Deck your (neighbor’s) walls with boughs of holly. I have a friend who decorates the fronts of neighboring houses with festive greenery and ribbon. Having transformed her artsy passion into a yuletide side hustle, she now earns enough money from it to pay for Christmas each year. Nobody wants to be the only house on the street without Christmas decorations, even people who don’t celebrate Christmas. It takes real skill to beautify a house without a) making it look tacky or b) spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars. If you have a real eye for aesthetics, the type who makes your own decorations and Christmas cards, that’s a marketable gift that house-proud homeowners would gladly pay for.
  2. Sell handcrafted goods on Etsy. While creating an object of beauty is its own reward, there’s no reason why you can’t make it financially rewarding as well. With so many mass-produced goods flooding the market, and even AI-created art being sold at Sotheby’s, there’s a growing appetite for all things homemade, homespun and homegrown. Amid limitless quantity, people yearn for quality products, which doesn’t only mean high-quality materials. Customers buy into the story behind a handmade quilt more than the quilt itself; process is more important than product. Therefore, the words you use to market your handiwork are key. So use some of your artistic talent to describe the skill and love that went into the creation of your product line, whether it be natural soaps or landscape watercolors.
  3. Bake it till you make it – Everyone likes homebaked cooking around the holidays, but not every family has someone willing or able to bake it themselves; when there are two breadwinners, who has the time to actualy make bread? Post a pic of your delicious confections on social media to get local people salivating (and reaching for their wallet).
  4. Get part-time seasonal work in a store – You don’t have to become one of Macy’s elves to cash in on the Christmas shopping rush (unless green tights are your thing). Department stores often increase their staffing over the busy holiday season, so ask around in your local mall.
  5. Become a mystery shopper – If you find shopping a pleasure, but the spending part a pain, there’s a way to make money while hunting for gifts. Mystery shopping companies will pay you to go into stores, pretending to be a regular customer, before reporting back on your experience and pocketing a fee (on top of being reimbursed for what you bought). When searching for a mystery shopping job, beware of scams that ask you to part with your money upfront. Legitimate mystery shopping companies should be members of the Mystery Shopping Professionals Association (MSPA).
  6. Turn old junk into treasure on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon. Before the internet happened, there were garage sales. Remember those? Now, there’s a more efficient way to turn your old junk into gold, some of it surprisingly precious to others. So precious, perhaps, that they will outbid each other for it. You can get rid of other people’s belongings too. Families with kids might need to make way for all the new gadgets and toys by getting rid of last year’s models (which are new enough to be of value to some buyers).
  7. Drive for Uber, Lyft or another ride-hailing app – Got a perfectly good car sitting in the garage? Turn it into a moneymaker and meet new people along the way (you will need to be a people person in order to score a high rating). There’s high demand around Christmas and New Year, and drivers earn more during peak hours. The best part is that you set your own hours.
  8. Teach in person or online. Maybe you have some teaching experience, or maybe there’s a musical instrument you can play. In either case, there’s a market of eager students (and ambitious parents) out there, willing to part with cold, hard cash for one-on-one tutoring. If you’re reading this, you have at least one skill in hot demand: English. Many enterprising side hustlers teach students on the other side of the world using Skype.
  9. Offer housekeeping services – Sick of your efficient housekeeping skills being taken for granted? In any other house, you’d be paid for your labor. So why not clean someone else’s house? You can find gigs in your local area using apps like TaskRabbit. Unless you have around a five-star rating you won’t get much in the way of business, so do a couple jobs for friends first, that will catapult you to the top of people’s search results. If you hate cleaning but love animals, you can always offer your housesitting or pet-sitting services. A lot of families travel over the holiday season and can’t always bring along their dog or cat.
  10. Be a virtual assistant – If, like me, you have a fully equipped home office that is woefully underused, put it (and yourself) to profitable use. Virtual assistant agencies can match you with clients looking for admin support. You don’t need proper experience as a VA, although Word and Excel skills will come in handy.
I’ve listed only 10 of the more doable ideas here to give you food for thought. And who knows? You may enjoy your side hustle or the money it generates, so much so that it becomes a year-round money-spinner.
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November 27, 2018