When I was in college, money was tight. Even though my parents paid for my tuition, I was responsible for my rent, monthly bills, food, car insurance, and my textbooks, which are not cheap! While waiting tables covered these expenses, when the holidays rolled around, I was strapped for cash. To earn extra cash for holiday expenses, I'd pick up catering and babysitting gigs. I'd sell used stuff to consignment shops and used book stores. I even participated in pharmaceutical research studies.
The reason I tell you this story is everyone has some talent, ability, or skill that they can call upon to make extra money. If you're worried about upcoming holiday expenses, here are 20 easy ways to make extra cash for the holidays.
One of the easiest ways to make some extra holiday cash is to provide childcare services. With kids on vacation, parents attending holiday parties, and secret shopping trips being executed — there are more than enough opportunities for you to cash in on this much-needed resource this holiday season.
For sites that connect you with parents in need of childcare check out:
2. Cookie Baking
Do you love to bake? Do you have a particular recipe for fruitcake that everyone raves about? Fill a need this holiday season by selling homemade cookies, candies, or cakes.
Everyone loves to have homemade goodies for holiday gatherings, but so many people lack the time to actually bake all the various sweets that they would like to serve. This is where you can be a valuable holiday asset. Tell family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers that you're selling cookies and cakes for the holiday season and ask them to place their orders. You can also post your holiday services on sites Facebook and Instagram, giving your holiday business even greater reach.
3. Create a Holiday Gift Guide
Create a holiday gift guide that includes gift ideas, recipes, tips for surviving the holidays, holiday decor, and gift wrapping ideas. You can upload your text, images, and links into a Word Document, then convert it into a PDF. To monetize the guide, sell advertising space or add in your affiliate links. Lastly, promote your guide on your social media channels, via free online publishing websites, your website, and your email list.
To get some ideas, check out these gift guides from other bloggers:
4. Join a Direct Sales Company
We’ve all heard of Avon, but did you know that there are thousands of direct sales companies? Find one that offers products that you feel passionate about and get selling. Direct sales companies offer starter kits that give you everything you need to get started, and they usually have low startup costs. Your first prospects and buyers will generally be friends, family, and neighbors; then, you will then build your customer base by getting referrals from these people. As a direct sales consultant, you will be paid a commission for each product you sell.
To get some ideas, check out these direct selling companies:
5. Gift Wrapping
My mom always disliked wrapping the Christmas gifts, I, on the other hand, loved it and would do the majority of the gift wrapping for her. Here is another simple service that you can provide this holiday season, especially useful for personal concierges and virtual assistants to add to their list of services. If you're looking for more tips on getting started, Cori has a great article covering everything you need to know here.
6. Hang Holiday Lights
This has become a popular home-based business in the past few years. Installing outdoor holiday lights takes time and requires a great deal of physical strength. You’ll need some essential tools, like a truck and a ladder, but if you’re not afraid of heights, this can be a lucrative and fun way to make some extra holiday cash. Be sure you check with your insurance agent to make sure you're covered in case of an accident.
Here are some on-demand sites you can use to connect with customers:
7. House Cleaning
It’s that time of year where there is a lot of holiday entertaining going on. With people being so busy, it will be easy for you to establish yourself as a holiday helper. Offer cleaning services, ranging from laundry and house cleaning, to meal prep, and running errands.
These smartphone apps that connect clients and workers:
8. Make and Sell Handmade Crafts
Make and sell your holiday gifts, a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing are Handmade candles, handbags, jewelry, soap, tutus, skincare products, toys, quilts — the possibilities are endless for those who have a creative flair.
Related Content: The Best Places to Sell Your Handmade Goods
9. Making and Sending Holiday Cards
Fulfill a need this holiday by creating one of a kind holiday cards, and even offer to address them, and send them out for an additional fee. Virtual assistants and personal concierge providers make sure to add “sending out holiday cards” to your list of services. So many people stress out about trying to do it all — help them out this season by taking one of their tasks off of their to-do list.
Be sure to read Melanie's success story about how she's selling one-of-a-kind cards on Etsy!
10. Personal Holiday Shopper
Do you love to shop? Offer your shopping expertise to others by searching for the best deals or unique gift ideas and then purchasing the gifts either online or in-store. This will save your clients a ton of time; you can even offer to gift wrap the presents for an additional charge.
Related Content: How to Get Paid to Shop For Others
11. Holiday Party Planner
Fill a void this holiday season by providing holiday party planning services! Event planners handle the details of location, budget, lodging, decorations, entertainment, food, beverages, transportation, activities, invitations, and the like.
12. Sell Used Items on Craigslist, eBay, and at Consignment Shops
Years ago, right before Christmas, I cleaned out my daughter’s closet, and I came up with a couple of bags of clothes, some shoes, a baby monitor, a highchair, and a pack-and-play. I took the clothes, shoes, and baby monitor to a local resale shop and made $44.00. I then listed the highchair and the pack-and-play on Craigslist, and I was able to sell those for another $160.00 for a total of $204.00 – not shabby for a couple of hours of work.
If you're interested in selling items around your house for cash, start now! According to Statista, most people (39%) start their holiday shopping before the end of October. The sooner you post your items online or take them to a consignment store, the better chance you'll have of selling them, hence, earning cash! Items that I've found that sell particularly well around this time is toys, formal wear, and new items that still have their tags.
Related Content: Over 100 Online Platforms to Sell Your Stuff for Money
13. Travel Planner
Take the stress out of someone’s day by offering travel planning services. Search for the cheapest holiday flights, car rentals, and hotel accommodations; you can even add extras in like things to do and see while they're visiting another part of the country.
To get started, check companies like:
Holiday vacation is the perfect time for students to get caught up in their studies, and this is where you come in! Tutoring can be an incredible at-home job opportunity, especially for those people who have extensive knowledge of a subject; such as a college student who is majoring in English, a school teacher, or an individual who is fluent in a foreign language. Besides the regular subjects like math, science, and English, they are also at-home positions for ESL teachers and test scorers!
To get started, check out platforms like:
15. Seasonal Work From Home Jobs 2019
With all of the extra orders coming in for the holidays, retail companies are looking for additional home-based customer service representatives to handle the increased call volume. Cash in on this home-based opportunity – who knows it could lead to a long-term position.
Here are some companies that regularly amp up their remote teams in the fall for increased seasonal demands:
- Academy Sports + Outdoors
- Blooms Today
- Contract World
- Neiman Marcus
- Omaha Steaks
- Saddleback Leather
- Vail Resorts
- West Marine
Business owners and bloggers like to take time off for the holidays too, so, why not offer to remove some of their workloads by offering your writing services? From blog posts and newsletters to articles and advertising copy — people are always looking for talented writers.
Short tasks, also known as micro jobs, are assignments that can be completed in a short amount of time. Tasks may include taking surveys, internet research, running errands, writing, graphic design, proofreading, data entry, and lots more. The wonderful thing about short tasks is you don't need long periods to get the work done since its project-based and not a set amount of hours.
Here are a few places to check out:
18. Snow Removal
If you love being outdoors and you don't mind manual labor, shoveling snow, or removing snow with a snowblower can be a great way to earn some extra holiday cash. Create flyers and pass them around your neighborhood or post them on nearby bulletin boards. If you have a neighborhood Facebook Group, you can also tout your services there (be sure you abide by the group's posting rules). According to this article, you can earn approximately $20 per driveway.
Here are a couple of ways to get connected with those in need of snow plowing services:
More than likely, you'll be doing a fair amount of holiday shopping for your loved ones this holiday season, so why not get paid for it?! Sites like Rakuten (formerly, Ebates) allow you to earn cashback from online purchases — and it's entirely free to use. In fact, I suggested it to my newsletter subscribers, and here's what one of them had to say:
“I wanted to thank you and your partners for the information you gave me to earn extra income. I've never made money online before, I've tried, but failed many times. This week I tried out Ebates and made $102.06, and my wife made $22.13 just today. I am so overwhelmed and beyond excited. I have tears of joy. My passion is to help the inner-city youth, especially in the Chicago area, the elderly, and our vets. Thank you, and God bless you.” – Paulus, from Mount Prospect, Illinois.
I've personally been using Rakuten since 2013, and during that time, I've earned over $1,929.32 cashback — not bad!
20. Christmas Tree Removal
Going to the Christmas tree farm is a fun family tradition, but removing the ornaments and getting rid of the tree is another story. Offer tree removal services after the holidays, by picking up used trees and disposing of them at your local recycling center. You can even offer to remove the decorations and put them away for an additional fee. The cash that you earn can be used to pay off your holiday bills.
Related Content: 10 Ways to Turn Your Trash into Cash
There are lots of ways to earn extra cash for the holidays! The best way to make enough money for your holiday shopping and extras is to start earlier than later. Most retail companies start hiring in September and October for seasonal positions. If you're considering using an on-demand site or app, start the application process now, so you'll be ready to go when the seasonal highs hit. And if you're considering making holiday crafts — by all means start making them now! As they say, the early bird gets the worm.
How are you earning extra pocket cash this Christmas? Drop us a note; we'd love to hear from you!
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Originally published December 11, 2009. Content updated October 16, 2019.
Holly Reisem Hanna is the publisher and founder of The Work at Home Woman, which has been helping individuals find remote careers and businesses that feed their souls since 2009. Through her unconventional career path of holding over 30 jobs and obtaining two college degrees, she’s been able to figure out how to find a career path that you’re truly passionate about. Holly’s had the pleasure of sharing her expertise on sites like CNN, MSN Money, Huffington Post, Woman’s Day Magazine, as well as being recognized by Forbes as one of the “Top 100 Websites for Your Career.” Holly resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband and daughter and enjoys reading, traveling, and yoga.
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