Need cash before the holidays? Here are some side hustles

Black Friday shoppers enjoy a Macy's holiday window display in New York on Nov. 26, 2021.
Black Friday shoppers enjoy a Macy’s holiday window display in New York last November. Inflation has people looking for extra work during the holidays and there’s a lot out there: things like shopping, cooking, making crafts, wrapping presents and decorating.
(Brittainy Newman / Associated Press)

The holiday season is always expensive, but the rapid rise of inflation makes it even more daunting this year. That’s got nearly one-quarter of Americans looking for holiday hustles.

If you’re among this group, the good news is that there’s plenty of extra work during the holiday season — things like shopping, cooking, making crafts, wrapping presents and holiday decorating.

The holidays are also high season for pet sitting, grocery delivery and cleaning work. And, if you don’t mind waiting tables, stocking shelves or working in a retail store, these jobs proliferate from October through January, too.

Wrap, 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 throw up your own website.


While creating a website may sound daunting, simple website builders can have you up and running in an hour for less than the cost of lunch. Have photos that show the beautiful decorations and lights that you put up last year? Got pictures of perfectly wrapped packages under your tree? That, plus some contact and pricing information, is all you need to build your site.

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Be sure to use the website builder’s search engine optimization tools to designate what you do and where. This is as simple as plugging in some keywords like “holiday lights,” “package wrapping service” or “holiday decorating.” Also plug in your city or service area. This helps potential customers find you when they do a Google search.

Finally, link your site to your Instagram and Facebook accounts and any other social media sites that you frequent. If you’re not already on Nextdoor, be sure to sign up and post an announcement about your service there too. Contractors say this neighborhood-centric social media site is a great place to find referral business. So, if any of your past customers rave about your past work, have them praise you there.

Holiday cooking

Those with the passion and skill to make perfect Christmas cookies or gingerbread houses can offer a seasonal cooking class on Tastemade. Tastemade invites chefs — professional and amateur — to sign up and offer cooking experiences.

You decide when, where and how many people can participate. Classes can be in person, livestreamed or taped. You also set the price and the capacity for your class. And you decide whether 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 revenue.

Make crafts and gifts

If you’ve ever purchased an item from Etsy, you probably know that the site is already on holiday overdrive. This platform sells anything homemade, including clothing, jewelry and decorations. And winter decorations, welcome mats and gifts are everywhere. Indeed, the main problem new sellers have when listing their crafts and gifts on Etsy is breaking through the plethora of other sellers.


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The key here is taking a close look at competition in your niche and finding a way to make your product unique or less expensive to drive sales. Obviously, being the lowest-priced seller can only be justified when you’re still selling for more than your costs and when it’s a short-term solution to build a following. If you’re new and need sales and reviews, go ahead and sell at slightly above costs. Otherwise, differentiate your product with design, personalization and imagination.

Keywords are important here too. Direct is better than clever. Use words that accurately describe what you’re offering: Santa Clause wreath; Christmas stockings; Hanukkah menorah; Kwanzaa decorations.

Pet sit

Two-thirds of Americans also travel during the holidays to visit relatives or to enjoy a winter holiday. If you don’t mind watching houses 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 you set 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 offer unique and appropriate for you — high-energy dog specialist, cat-whisperer, boa boarding, exotic animal lover — you can command a premium price and still draw plenty of business.

Shop & deliver

Shipt, Instacart and GoPuff keep plenty busy throughout 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 charge of where they shop, when they shop and what they charge. Shipt, Instacart and GoPuff simply send orders into their network, where shopper/drivers determine whether to take the gig.

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Dumpling charges shoppers roughly $30 a month to set you up with your own shopping business, providing a credit card, personal web page and business cards. This allows you to schedule shopping trips around your life, not someone else’s. And it lets you develop a regular clientele and regular routes. You might do Costco runs every Monday, for instance. You can tell clients to get their orders in by Sunday, which allows you to plan your trip, shop for multiple orders and deliver everything in one trip. You set your own service fees. Dumpling charges customers a 5% site fee on the grocery order.


Holiday gatherings often spur rare but necessary deep household scrubbing to get months of grime off of everything from light fixtures to ovens and bathrooms. People willing to do this kind of deep cleaning can earn good money to swoop in and make houses 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 with a site called Qwick, which enlists freelancers to staff events. The site pays between minimum wage and $30 an hour. Instawork also offers bartending and server jobs in 30 cities nationwide.

Stock shelves

As holiday shoppers empty store shelves, warehouses and retailers need help stocking shelves. If you want to do these jobs part-time, BlueCrew is the best option in California. To comply with the state’s strict freelance law, BlueCrew hires the workers and allows them to pick and choose among available shifts and clients.

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In-store retail

The best place to look for in-store retail jobs is Indeed, a broad job search site that lets you search by position, location and other factors. Currently the site lists more than 11,000 retail job openings in Los Angeles alone. Most jobs are listed with a salary range and basic requirements.

A nice feature here is you can limit your search to jobs that are nearby and pay what you want to earn. So, instead of flipping through all 11,000 open jobs, you can restrict your search to jobs within 15 miles of your ZIP Code and that pay, say, more than $17 per hour to narrow the search to a reasonable number.

Kristof is the editor of, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.