With the holidays right around the corner, kids are writing up lengthy letters to Santa, and Christmas trees and reindeer throw pillows are calling your name from the aisles of Target. You might be wondering just how you’ll afford it all this year.
If you need to earn cash for the holidays, there are plenty of ways to make money that don’t require any experience. It’s quick and easy to get started with a new side gig, and some can even be done from the comfort of your own home. So if you’re short on money ahead of the holidays, don’t fret. Here are 21 of the best side hustles to help you rake in some holiday cash.
21 best holiday side hustles
Become an Instacart shopper
Plenty of folks need help with their grocery shopping, especially when preparing for the holidays during a pandemic, and Instacart shoppers can offer some much-needed assistance. You could be the hero to show up with bags of groceries, and you’ll get paid for picking and delivering orders to customers. You can make your own hours, and you just need to clear a background check to get started. Earning potential varies, but you keep 100% of your tips.
Take surveys to earn a few extra bucks
If you just need a little extra cash and don’t want to leave home, taking surveys could be a good way to earn some extra holiday dough. Companies use these sites to conduct market research, and they’re willing to pay for your opinion. You definitely won’t earn a full-time income this way, but it takes little effort to answer a survey from the comfort of your couch. The best survey sites also offer opportunities to earn money from other online activities. For example, Survey Junkie also pays you for searching the web
Let your car work for you
If you’re not using your car often, you could turn that downtime into passive income by renting it out. With Turo, you can set your own rental prices, availability, and any rules for the use of your vehicle. You’ll either meet customers to hand over the keys or add a lockbox to your vehicle that renters can access, if you prefer contactless pickup. You’ll also be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of your vehicle. You can use the Turo Calculator to see how much you could earn.
Getaround works similarly to Turo, except that Getaround installs a device in your vehicle that allows renters to access it with their smartphone. Both can earn you some extra income and help people get from point A to point B — a win-win.
Deliver food with DoorDash
If you love the smell of a hot pizza or Chinese food wafting from the bag, delivering food with DoorDash could be another option for you. Like Instacart, you can choose your own hours and work as often as you want, and you can even deliver in any city. You don’t necessarily need a car, as you can deliver by bike in some markets.
You’ll need to fill out an application, submit to a background check, and complete a driver orientation to get started. The whole process only takes one to two weeks. From there, just log in to the app to start accepting deliveries. You’ll be able to see how much you’ll earn ahead of time, and money will be deposited into your bank account each week.
Watch videos online in your spare time
If you don’t mind watching product videos, trailers, and other content in your spare time, you could earn a little extra holiday cash using a site like Swagbucks. In addition to paying you for taking surveys and watching videos, Swagbucks gives you cash for taking advantage of online shopping deals. You’ll even get a $10 bonus just for signing up. Other sites that pay you to watch videos include InboxDollars, MyPoints, and Zynn.
Wrap gifts for others
Some people don’t have the time to wrap up dozens of gifts, or the skill to make them look good under the tree. If you’ve got time and wrapping skills, consider offering your services in your local community. Post an ad on local Facebook groups or other community groups, and let your neighbors know. You may also be able to get a job at a department store, as many retailers hire seasonal employees to help with gift wrapping.
Use your skills to earn cash
If you have a job, chances are you have some skills that you can market as a freelancer. Whether that’s accounting help, virtual assistance, writing, photography, or web design, making yourself available during your off-hours can be a great way to pick up extra money. Start by listing your services on Upwork, Fiverr, or TaskRabbit. You may need to set your freelancing rates low while you collect testimonials from your customers and build a strong portfolio. Eventually, you may want to build your own website showcasing your skills.
Cut your bills and boost your budget
If you don’t have time to take on a side hustle, you could boost your holiday budget just by reevaluating your budget. You can use an app like Trim to potentially save on your bills without lifting a finger. Truebill may also provide you with some savings. These apps work by identifying unnecessary subscriptions, negotiating with telecommunications providers, and more.
A good budgeting app can also help you identify spending categories where you might have room to cut back. For example, if you decide not to dine out during November or December, you’ll have more room in your holiday budget.
Become a Postmates courier
Postmates is another delivery service similar to Doordash, except that you may deliver more than just food; you could also be tasked with picking up medications from a pharmacy or necessities from a convenience store. You’ll be able to make your own schedule and work as often as you like. You keep 100% of your earnings, and the money will be deposited weekly into your bank account. Just sign up, pass a background check, and get a free delivery bag and prepaid card mailed to you. From there, you can open the app to begin accepting deliveries.
Babysit dogs (or kids) in your spare time
Although fewer Americans are traveling for the holidays this year, many may still need support with their furry friends or kiddos while they are out of town or participating in holiday activities. If you have experience as a pet sitter, you can use Rover to create a profile and offer services like dog sitting. You’ll be able to set your availability and rates, but be sure to research other providers in your area to set a fair price. If babysitting kids is more your speed, try creating a profile on Care.com.
Decorate other people’s houses
The holidays can be so stressful that some people may want to hire additional help. In fact, TaskRabbit has a section dedicated to holiday help, where you can list services like Christmas decorating, hanging lights, and event decorating. You can also let your friends and neighbors know you’re available. It will help to have pictures of previous projects, so if you’ve decorated your own home beautifully, upload photos to your profile.
Earn gift cards when you shop for gifts
If you’re wondering how to make money just by shopping online, many cashback sites and apps will reward you with gift cards or actual cash for spending money with your favorite retailers. These sites make a commission for referring you to their partner brands, and they share some of that money with you as cash back. Here are a few worth checking out:
Work at a brick-and-mortar store
Many retailers hire seasonal, part-time help for the holidays, so if you think you might enjoy working at a craft store, boutique, or toy shop, apply for jobs in your area. Most retailers also offer discounts to their employees, so as an added bonus, you’ll be able to pick up gifts for your family at decreased prices while you work there.
Tutor kids online
If you have a bachelor’s degree, tutoring can be a lucrative side hustle. You can create your own schedule and even tutor virtually if you don’t want to leave home. You’ll get more money if you set your own rates on a website like Care.com, but you may find more consistent work if you tutor through a company like VIPKid, which provides one-on-one English tutoring services, or TutorMe, which pays tutors $16 per hour to share their knowledge in a variety of subjects.
Make and sell gifts online
While you’re DIYing some of your own gifts, why not make extra and sell some of them online? You could jar special spice mixes, hot cocoa mixes, or soup mixes for holiday cooking. Or you might make your own spa products, such as candles, scented Epsom salts, or bath bombs. You could even make a scarf with nothing but a skein of yarn and your two arms (no knitting experience required) or sew your own holiday face masks. Etsy is a great place to sell your handmade items. You can also sell things on eBay or Amazon, though Amazon does charge a sellers' fee.
Sell your storage space
You have extra space in your basement, garage, or attic, and your neighbors have extra stuff they need to stash away. Why not help them get access to cheaper storage and make some money while you’re at it? In addition to letting your neighbors know you have space available, you can list your space on sites like Neighbor and Store At My House, which are similar to Airbnb except for storage space. You can enter your address in Neighbor to estimate your earning potential.
Review products online
There are some websites that will pay you to test products and/or write reviews online. If you can write well and you enjoy sharing your opinion, this could be a great way to snag a little extra holiday money. Surkus is an app that will pay you for trying out local businesses and testing new products. Many survey sites also offer the opportunity to get paid for writing reviews. And if you have a successful blog or social media account, you can write reviews to make money through affiliate marketing.
Become a mystery shopper
Brands use mystery shoppers to assess the quality of a customer’s experience at various stores. If you’re the type to spend hours browsing at the mall even when you don’t need to buy anything, this opportunity is for you. Sign up for Market Force or BestMark to get started. You’ll either be compensated for meals or purchases or receive a payment for trying new businesses.
With BestMark, you can also get paid for interviewing customers in-store, checking a store’s compliance with certain guidelines, and participating in focus groups. Just be sure to use only reputable sites like these two, as there are many mystery shopping scams out there.
Housesit in your spare time
As a housesitter, you might take care of pets in the home, or you might simply water the plants and bring in the mail. It’s a great way to bring in some extra income without doing much work. You can advertise around your local community, or you can list your services on a site like MindMyHouse, which charges a $20 annual fee for housesitters. If you want to housesit while traveling, check out Nomador. You can get free accommodations in exchange for looking after someone’s home, which can help you keep a little extra cash in your pocket for the holidays.
Become a dog walker
If the idea of being greeted enthusiastically by a dog appeals to you, then a dog-walking side hustle might not even feel like work. If you have any experience with dogs and want to set your own schedule, you can get started as a dog walker for Wag. You may even be able to pick up enough extra holiday money just by walking your neighbors’ dogs.
Host a virtual experience
Got a particularly delicious and boozy eggnog recipe to share? Can you teach beginners how to play Christmas songs on the ukulele? Got a Santa costume and a stand-up comedy routine? Consider hosting an online experience through Airbnb. You can set your own rates and availability, and you can engage with people from around the world from the comfort of your own home. Your experience doesn’t have to be holiday-themed, either. Come up with something creative and set the right price, and you’ll be able to earn a decent chunk of change on your own terms.
The bottom line
If you are looking to earn some extra cash for the holidays, the good news is that there is no shortage of side hustle options available. Check out our mega list of side hustles for even more ideas. To find the right fit for you, think about how much you want to earn, when you want to work, and what you like to do. Who knows? You just might find a great side hustle that you enjoy enough to stick with beyond the holidays.