As the holidays approach, you may notice that you’re spending more than in previous months this past year. The average consumer will spend $882 on Christmas presents alone in 2015, and that’s not counting the cost of decorations, food, or travel that comes with the holiday season and family get-togethers.
Needless to say, December can become a pretty expensive month.
As a freelancer, you already have the freedom to take on more projects or clients for extra income, but too much work can leave you overwhelmed and burnt out.
So what do you do when you need to make the holidays more financially feasible but you just don’t have the energy to work longer hours?
Here are some ideas to start with that you can use to earn extra cash this holiday season.
1. Run Errands
Image via Taskrabbit.com
It’s a common pet peeve of many freelancers: when your friends or family ask you to run their errands because “you’re home all day anyway.” During the holiday season, there’s even more errand-running to do, from picking up Christmas gifts to stopping at the post office to mail them out—and let’s not forget about all the family get-togethers and Christmas concerts that make preparing for the holidays even more difficult.
So when your friends don’t have the time and you need a break from work, say “yes” to that quick errand, but don’t forget to charge for it! Professional errand runners are making a living doing this year-round. Imagine how much you could make during the holidays for, say, $10-$20 per errand.
Senior Errand Service reports that as a full-time errand runner, you can expect around $216 per day.
Start by picking up errands from people you know, such as family, friends, and fellow churchgoers. Busy parents or the elderly who would rather not leave the house are more likely to take advantage of your services. Chances are, people will be more than happy to shell over a few dollars if they don’t have to run around town themselves—and you can use that extra money for your own holiday happenings.
If you don’t have the connections to make this happen, consider bidding on tasks in your area at TaskRabbit.com.
2. Host a Parent’s Night Out
Perhaps you’re not too keen on running errands or charging your friends to do so. However, the fact still stands that most parents are busy, and many are struggling to find the time to do their Christmas shopping.
Cash in on this by offering to babysit their kids for the night so they have the time and privacy to go Christmas shopping.
The key to making this a success is to host numerous families. Plan a movie night for 10 to 15 kids, and charge a $15 babysitting fee per kid. That’s $225 for just a couple of hours of work—although you may want your spouse or a friend to help you keep an eye on all the kids.
If you know enough people, consider hosting two or three parent’s nights before Christmas so everyone has a chance to do their Christmas shopping. That way, you can earn more money for your own holiday gifts.
3. Clean for the Holidays
Know of any friends who are hosting holiday parties this season? They likely want their home spotless for their get-together, but if they don’t have the time, you can make a few extra bucks by offering your cleaning services.
Market it as a one-time holiday deep clean, and you’ll be able to charge more than a weekly cleaning service. You can charge per square foot, per hour, or by the house. Angie’s List points out that professional cleaning services charge around $25 to $35 per hour, so feel free to charge in that range.
4. Cater for Holiday Parties
Do your friends constantly ask for your secret pumpkin pie recipe? Maybe they’re wondering if you can provide your famous home-made stuffing for their holiday party. If you really have a knack for cooking, why not cash in? When friends and family rave about your food, consider offering your cooking services for upcoming holiday parties and family gatherings.
Chances are most of your friends will be happy that they don’t have to cook themselves, and they’ll be glad to have your food at their table. Catering opportunities are huge this time of year, whether you’re catering for a friend or for your spouse’s office party.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of ingredients as well as an hourly rate into your price. Otherwise, you can charge per head, which is typically $20-$35 per person for small gatherings and a buffet menu—although it can pay to cut your friends a deal so they’ll choose you over a professional.
5. Sign Up for Ebates
Image via Ebates.com
If you’re not already familiar with Ebates, this is a cash-back service that pays you to shop! All you have to do is shop through their links. Now is the perfect time to sign up, especially if you still have a lot of Christmas shopping to do.
As a new member, you’ll earn a $10 cash-back bonus when you spend $25 on qualifying purchases during your first 90 days. Then, earn a percentage off your purchases at your favorite stores. Cash-back rates range from 1 percent all the way up to 50 percent at select stores.
You can also snag coupon codes from the site to save even more, and you can earn $100 when you refer three friends. Install the Ebates Chrome extension so you never miss out on a qualifying purchase. You’re going to be shopping anyway; why not earn money back in the process?
6. Sell Your Plasma
While many people are donating blood this holiday season, you could undergo a very similar process and get paid for it—while still saving lives! Plasma donation is a lot like donating your blood. However, the process is longer (about an hour) since the phlebotomists have to run your blood through a machine that separates the plasma and red blood cells, and then send the red blood cells back into your body.
Biolife Plasma centers are located across the U.S. You can donate twice a week and earn around $50 per week, although there are oftentimes bonuses for first-time donors, frequent donors, and friend referrals. Money is loaded onto a prepaid card you can use anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. As a bonus, many Biolife centers feature a supervised play area for kids to enjoy while their parents are donating.
7. Rent Out a Room
Image via Airbnb.com
The holidays are a busy time for travel as everyone wants to see their families this season. Last year, 98.6 million Americans traveled for the holidays.
Unfortunately, travel can be costly, and family members don’t always have the room to accommodate all their guests. That means a lot of holiday travelers are looking for a cheap room. The good news is that you can take advantage of this.
Whether your friend’s cousin is looking for a cheap place to stay or you decide to list your extra room on Airbnb, you can charge guests a couple bucks a night for a single room or several hundred dollars to rent your home while you’re away for the holidays.
8. Write About What You Know
Writing is a great way to make money year-round. You might even have a freelance writing business! But if article writing isn’t on your roster of services and you’re looking for a quick way to cash in on your skills, consider submitting an article to sites that pay. Here are just a few you might consider:
- Work Online Blog: Pays $50 per post (1,500 words) on topics relating to making money online.
- Guidepost: Reportedly pays $250 for faith-based essays of 1,500 words or more.
- xoJane: Pays $50 for crazy but true stories about things that happened to you.
- Scary Mommy: Pays $100 per piece (under 900 words) on parenting topics.
- Listverse: Pays $100 per 1,500-word post on off-beat topics in list format.
- The Dollar Stretcher: Pays $0.10 per word for money-saving topics.
- Sitepoint: Pays $150 to $300 per published piece on CSS, HTML, and Sass topics.
Need more ideas? Here are 79 sites that offer payment of $50 or more.
9. Use Your Performing Talents
Image via Gigsalad.com
During this festive time of year, musicians can find numerous paid gigs. Piano players, for example, may find opportunities at church events, such as at Sunday or Wednesday service or for Christmas programs. Be on the lookout as Christmas approaches and church councils realize they still need an organist for the service! You’ll want to have enough time to practice the music.
If you’re not a pianist, you might find opportunities singing at holiday parties or joining caroling groups. If your friends are musically adept as well, consider putting together a holiday band to earn some cash playing background music at Christmas parties.
If music isn’t your thing, you can still find holiday party gigs as a magician, comedian, impersonator, henna artist, or even a Santa Claus. Consider posting your talents on GigSalad.com so people looking for an entertainer for their party can connect with you. Santa Clauses on Gig Salad make around $50 to $400 per gig depending on the time required. If you don’t have the Santa Claus look, you can always have fun playing an elf!
10. Wrap Gifts
Busy parents tend to feel overwhelmed and struggle to find the time to wrap up all their Christmas gifts. Others may simply not have a way with paper and bows. If you have an artistic eye and can wrap any wonky item beautifully, earn money by offering your gift-wrapping services over the holidays.
Kelly Gurnett reports on The Penny Hoarder that gift wrapper Jamie Novak charges $20 per hour plus $10 for travel outside a 15-mile radius. You can travel to clients’ houses to wrap their gifts or have them bring the gifts to your house. Either way, you’ll have fun and get paid to take this task off someone else’s to-do list. Be sure to consider the cost of supplies if you’re providing them.
11. Cash in Last Year’s Gifts
If you have brand-new items lying around from last Christmas that you haven’t touched recently, chances are you won’t use them. However, someone else may find them useful, and with so many people on the hunt for Christmas gifts, you may just be able to hand them off to someone else for a price instead of re-gifting them.
Start at sites like Craigslist or eBay to earn money by selling your unused items. Otherwise, you can join Facebook classified groups in your area to advertise your for-sale items. That way, buyers will be close so you can meet up instead of spending extra money on postage costs or selling fees.
One excellent item to sell is unused gift cards. Approximately one-third of gift cards go unused. If you’re hoarding gift cards with the full value on them but you aren’t going to use them, sell them! Gift cards are the number one gift at the top of people’s lists for nine years running, says the National Retail Federation, so plenty of people are looking for gift cards to say “Happy Holidays” to their friends and family. Consider offering them at 90 percent of their value to get more eyeballs on your offer.
Clothes and toys also make good Christmas gifts, so it shouldn’t be tough to sell lightly-used items. You can also earn money selling your used electronics online or getting rid of other unwanted items on consignment.
The holidays are a busy time of year, but you can use your skills and your talents to relieve a bit of the stress off a friend, family member, or complete stranger and earn extra cash doing it. Otherwise, there are plenty of other ways to make a quick buck without disturbing your loved ones, like writing a blog post or selling your plasma.
Which suggestions will you consider trying this holiday season?