Many companies hire holiday help, both to handle seasonal demand and to account for the many regular employees who want to take time off at this time of year. This gives you the opportunity to snag a holiday job. Of course, the best thing about holiday jobs is that they help you pay seasonal bills as they happen, instead of ringing up debts you’ll regret in January.
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Holiday job choices
You have two basic choices when looking for a holiday job. You can work for a traditional company, such as Target, Costco or Trader Joe’s, that will hire you as a temporary employee. Or, you can essentially work for yourself through gig platforms, such as TaskRabbit and Qwick.
The best choice will depend on what you want to do, whether you can commit to a set schedule, and whether you’re looking for employee discounts in addition to pay. After all, if you’re planning to do a good portion of your holiday shopping at a retailer like Target, the company’s 10% employee discount could save you a significant sum.
Job benefits vs. flexibility
Traditional employers pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your behalf. When you work for yourself through most gig platforms, you have to pay these taxes yourself. That costs you about 7.65% of your earnings.
If you work for a traditional employer long enough, you could qualify for other benefits including paid time off, health insurance and a retirement plan. In most cases, you would need to continue working for the company after the holiday season ended to qualify for benefits. If that’s your goal, make sure to ask potential employers the likelihood of remaining on staff — and getting sufficient hours to qualify for benefits — post-season.
Brick-and-mortar retailers generally require that you adhere to a set schedule. Gig platforms, on the other hand, typically allow you to jump in and out of work at your convenience.
And when you’re employed, your employer sets your wages and determines what you do. When you are self-employed working through an online job platform, you can often either set your own wages or simply decline jobs that don’t pay what you want to earn. Likewise, if the job you’re offered doesn’t appeal to you, you don’t have to accept it when you’re doing gig work.
Where to find a holiday job
If you’re looking for temporary work with a traditional employer, the best way to find it is to either Google “careers + [the company you want to work for]” or check out job search sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor.
The best place to find holiday gig jobs largely hinges on what you want to do.
Create your own gigs
Do you want to engage in entrepreneurial work that you design, describe and price? This can include personal shopping, wrapping packages, hanging Christmas lights or helping families set up for the holidays.
If so, TaskRabbit is likely to be your best choice. This site allows freelancers to advertise whatever services they’re qualified to offer and set their own rates. You take home 100% of the pay. TaskRabbit adds a fee to the client’s bill to cover the site’s costs.
Average rates for some popular holiday jobs, according to TaskRabbit:
- Christmas tree setup: $36 to $54 per hour
- Hanging holiday lights: $46 to $57 per hour
- Cleaning and setting up for holiday parties: $37 to $50 per hour
- Gift wrapping, packing/unpacking holiday decorations, writing/addressing holiday cards: $23 to $31 per hour
Other sites that allow you to design your own job and set your own prices include Fiverr, a platform that specializes in remote work, and Etsy, a site where artisans can sell clothing, crafts and other products. Both sites charge freelancers a commission on each sale.
A site called HelpAroundTown also enables workers to find local work or offer their services to neighbors. Here, no one pays a fee, unless they want to highlight their services or job openings with a paid advertisement. The catch with HelpAroundTown is that although it’s theoretically available nationwide, it has gained little traction outside of its home state of Massachusetts. That said, it’s free to use, so there’s little downside to giving it a try.
Sites such as Instacart and Shipt also see brisk demand at this time of year. Both sites pay shoppers to pick up and deliver groceries to customers on demand. A third site called Dumpling allows customers to pre-schedule shopping trips.
Serving food and stocking shelves
Shelf-stocking and food-service jobs also proliferate during the holiday season. And given that there’s already a shortage of these hourly workers, you’re likely to have plenty of gigs to choose from when you sign up. Sites that will help you find gigs include Qwick and Jitjatjo, which staff restaurants and special events. Blue Crew, GigSmart, SnagWork and Wonolo connect seasonal workers with warehouse, merchandising and event work.
Package delivery sites, such as Amazon Flex and Roadie, are always looking for delivery drivers, and demand soars during the holidays. Both sites get mixed reviews for their pay and working conditions, particularly when driver expenses are high because of rising gas prices. But the work is fairly easy to find and requires little more than a working vehicle and appropriate insurance.
If you have a truck and the muscle to handle large/heavy deliveries, GoShare is also worth considering. The site pays between $33 and $66 per hour to delivery drivers.
Other sites that allow you to set your own rates for package delivery jobs include Citizen Shipper and UShip.
Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.