Cutting coupons isn’t the only way to manage the nearly $900 American adults were estimated to spend on Christmas gifts last year. Starting a side hustle will give you a more flexible gift-giving or party-hosting budget, and you might have some left over to hit all the January sales come the new year. If you have the spare time and the necessary talent, get your crafting table set up and your day planner ready — these are the businesses you can start right at home.
For those who work full time, have household tasks and a family to tend to, finding time to shop for holiday gifts may be a nuisance. If you know families like this, offer your time as a personal shopper. To start, ask your clients about their gifting budget and who they need to shop for. From there, ask for more details about the gift recipients. What are their likes? Dislikes? You can make anywhere from $9 to $16 an hour, according to software company PayScale.
In the same way people might hire a wedding planner to help organize and plan out their big day, they may seek a party planner for their busy holiday season. If you’re outgoing and have strong multitasking and organizational skills, offer your event-planning capabilities to neighbors or friends in need of some help. Ask for a guest list and budget, plus some ideas for a theme, and then take charge from there. You can negotiate around $23 an hour with some relevant experience or even references from past events.
Similar to a party planner, having a creative mind and being able to think outside the box while meeting your clients’ wishes is a must. If designing is a hobby of yours and creating the perfect atmosphere comes easily to you, you can command up to $21 an hour. Party planners should expect to oversee vendor relationships, manage the party budget and select a location in addition to decorating the venue.
If you’re the go-to person at parties to bring the most delicious cupcakes or the most creative charcuterie spread, consider turning your talent and tools into a holiday business. If you have the necessary kitchen equipment and enough fridge space for food prep, consider marketing your menus and expertise for around $13 an hour. Your state might require you to get a license, so be sure to check your county’s health department regulations on catering.
Hosts often don’t want to worry about pouring their guests drinks or wondering if the three bottles of wine left in the cooler are going to last the night. If you’re a master of the craft cocktail and have a working knowledge of classic drinks, you could earn between $40 and $55 an hour as a private bartender for this year’s Christmas parties. Things you’ll need to get started: a shaker, bar spoon, cocktail strainer, fruit knife, wine key, bottle opener and charisma.
If you’re the type that gifts the whole package — bath bombs, pedicure kit, face masks and sugar scrubs — instead of just the spa gift card, then this is the business for you. Set up shop with some baskets, cellophane, ribbon, tissue paper and the gifts, and set your ticket price. A tip for making a profit: Add up everything in the basket, including the basket, and then double the price. This will ensure you include what it cost you to purchase the supplies as well as your time, not just the gifts inside.
Sometimes, a hand-crafted gift means a lot more to the recipient than just another gift card. Use your imagination and creative knack to make gifts people will cherish. Don’t know where to start? Browse sites like Pinterest or Etsy to give you ideas, and make a business plan that suits your schedule. Do you have time to make multiple gifts at once and have them ready, or would it be more efficient to make them on demand? Like the gift basket making, charge double what you paid for the items to see a profit.
Gifts wrapped like a 2-year-old was given free reign with the paper are not fun to give at parties. Share your gift-wrapping skills and help those who need your eye for detail. A good way to gauge price is by the size of the box and where you live. Small boxes might start around $4 per present, while larger or odd-shaped gifts can start closer to $7. Search what other companies in your town charge and base your price point on the competition. An easy way to stand out among competitors: Offer something different such as hand-painted gift tags or artfully crafted, personalized bows.
Hallmark cards are classic, but homemade cards are memorable. If you enjoy cutting out a hundred paper snowflakes and getting gold glitter everywhere, card making is the business for you. Share your holiday cheer in the form of construction paper and ribbon and make almost $8 per card. A good rule of thumb is to charge for materials, time and overhead costs — the latter of which won’t be much in the case of card making considering you probably already own scissors and glue.
Put your doodles to use and make handmade calendars for the upcoming year. Monthly hand-painted wall calendars on Etsy are in the $30 range. If you don’t want to do a whole calendar, get crafty with an Advent calendar. These range from $20 to $220, depending on how intricate they are. Pricier options, like hand-crafted wooden ones, can double as home decor. Make sure your price point includes labor and materials purchased.
Ornaments, cutting boards, pilsner glasses, bath towels, you name it — sewing and engraving are great hobbies, but if you’re really talented in the lettering department, start a gift personalization business. Charge in a way that makes sense for labor and materials: per letter, per minute or by the size of what you’re working on.
If you’re the type that can’t settle for the store-made evergreen and holly berry wreath and end up making your own, maybe it’s time to start selling your creations. Make them as simple as you want and charge in the low $20 range or offer personalized, made-to-order options and charge closer to the $70 range. A tip for cutting costs: Buy necessities like wire, bows and garland in bulk.
Many people have parties to attend during the holiday season, but might not have time to bake four dozen cupcakes let alone decorate them with little Santa faces and snowflakes. Holiday baking is a win-win — the house will smell like sweets and there will be a bit more in the savings jar. A common way to charge is per serving, according to Cake Boss. Use social media to market your creations and keep a portfolio of what your artful icing looks like. You can incentivize clients to purchase from you by mentioning discounts online.
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Even though this can be a year-round gig, the need for sitters spikes during the holiday season. An open weekend schedule will be helpful to parents who have parties to get to on Fridays and Saturdays. Having some patience and the energy to entertain kids is a must. Care.com has a rate calculator that bases rates on years of experience, where you live and how many kids you’ll be watching, but expect to make at least $16 per hour.
The season has passed for lemonade stands, but hot cocoa and marshmallows are just as sweet and will keep your customers’ hands warm. A way to make it more fun? Make this an activity while babysitting and teach the kids a lesson on entrepreneurship. Create a menu and charge more for things such as whipped cream and caramel topping so the kids get a sense of sales and overhead expenses.
So, you might not be a kid person, but maybe you’re a dog person. If the idea of making some cash for playing with puppies has you wondering why you haven’t been doing that all year, this is the job for you. Knowing dog owners in your neighborhood is a good place to start, especially if you know some looking to make a winter getaway. There are also websites that help connect pet owners to competent caregivers. The average dog-walker hourly pay is about $19 and the average yearly salary for pet sitting is about $38,500.
Last year, USPS expected to deliver 15 billion pieces of mail during the holiday season. Families need photographers for that perfect Christmas card picture, so get your props and your Nikon DSLR ready. You’ll have to decide how you want to charge: per hour or per image. Amateurs can expect between $25 and $50 per hour or $25 to $50 per image, whereas semi-professionals should charge between $75 and $150 per hour or $50 to $150 per image.
There’s always that one neighborhood house that goes above and beyond to make the holidays sparkle. If this is your house, market your decorating ability and create custom light displays for other houses in the neighborhood. Depending on the number of decorations to be set up and the time it takes you to do it, you could make around $400.
Spring and summer months might make you extra money for lawn mowing or landscaping, but don’t discount winter months as money lost. A shovel is a solid tool to start with for a snow removal service and could get you around $25 to $75 per hour, depending on the circumstances. If you have a snowplow and a vehicle to accommodate the attachment, you could make $30 to $50 per home visit.
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Gyms offer yearly deals and discounts on monthly memberships during the new year, but Americans waste a total of $1.8 million yearly to get gym memberships they don’t use. Offer your workout-buddy services and get people excited to stay in shape over the holidays. The average hourly rate for a personal trainer is $19. Having a certification means you can charge more and it shows your clients that you’re qualified.