These home-based jobs or businesses can be a great way to pick up some extra holiday cash. Though they are "home-based" this doesn't necessarily mean they are all done completely from home. Some involve extended periods outside the home, but for the work-at-home mom with kids in school or other child care options, they can be a way to build up a holiday nest egg.
Many of these ideas rely on networking as a way to find clients. Ask friends and family if they are interested in the services you are offering or know of others who would be. Use social networks to get the word out to friends. If your child's school has a newsletter that accepts ads, place one there. Some kind of personal connection, like a shared school, can help potential clients feel more comfortable in hiring you. And better yet, personal recommendations will help you gain additional clients.
Keep in mind, though, that most of these ideas will need to be started and/or planned months in advance. (The same is true of these holiday call center jobs.) But if you are reading for this in November or December, you may be able to start sowing the seeds to start a holiday business next year.
1. Work as an Assistant (Virtual or Otherwise)
Wouldn't we all love to have an assistant during the holidays? In fact, some people do hire assistants during the holidays. People are so busy during at this time of year--and there is so much more to do--that they will outsource some of the tasks they don't enjoy. This could be things like running errands, shopping, or gift wrapping. One way to find the folks willing to pay for these services is to network.
Or, become a virtual assistant for companies like VIPDesk, which hires what it calls "home-based concierges" to fulfill online requests range from making reservations to shopping. To find both virtual and non-virtual task try places like TaskRabbit.
2. Holiday Decorating
People hire holiday decorators--not just because they don't have the time to do it themselves but--because they want a better, more professional job than they could do on their own. So, talent and experience in floral design or interior decorating is helpful in starting a holiday decorating business. However, what will really persuade potential clients to hire you is a stellar portfolio of your work. Be sure to take quality photos of any holiday decorating you do, whether you're paid for it or not, and create a showcase book to bring to clients and/or a website.
A friend of mine with a holiday-decorating business also runs a make-your-own wreath booth at a holiday festival. She provided the greens, ribbons, beads and advice, and visitors go home with a hand-crafted wreath. She not only made money at the booth, but she also found new clients for her decorating business.
3. Selling Crafts
If you're a crafter with homemade items accumulating, the holiday season is the time to sell them. People are in the market for crafts as gifts. However, during this time of year, what really sells in volume are decorations. So use your crafting talents to create holiday-themed items, such as ornaments and decorations, and sell them at holiday bazaars and festivals. But don't wait too long to get started, creating an inventory takes time plus booth spaces at crafts fairs may fill up early. Read more on selling holiday-themed crafts.
4. Call Center Jobs
If you're not the home business type and you'd just prefer to have an extra paycheck during the holiday season, a home call center job may be the way to go. Many home call center jobs hire agents for holiday seasonal jobs starting in August and September. Check out this list of companies that hire holiday seasonal jobs in home call centers and read about virtual call center job requirements and qualifications.
For much of the country, the weather during the holiday season isn't good enough for a yard sales; so have an online one on eBay. Maybe being an online seller is the long-term home business for you, or maybe it's a way to pick up some cash during the holiday season. You won't know until you try. When my kids were little, I resold on eBay items that I picked up at yard sales. The profits weren't huge, but I never lost any money either. About's Guide to eBay has some good advice for holiday selling and what items to sell first.
6. Pet/House Sitting
While moving in to someone's house during the holiday season to house sit is not practical for many of us, many holiday travelers don't need full-time coverage for their home. They may simply wish to hire someone to stop by to check on the house daily, pick up the mail, turn on the lights or care for low-maintenance pets like cats and fish. This article on house sitting as a summer job applies during the holiday season as well. It advises offering other services as well such as cleaning or dog walking when the owner is home. Again, people are willing to pay for conveniences this time of year.
7. Child Care
Babysitting is not just for teenagers. In fact, new parents and families with infants often prefer to have an adult and/or parent watch their children. And these are the families that often don’t already have a regular babysitter. With so holiday parties and events, these parents are often looking for child care help. Also, with schools closed during the holiday season, many parents need child care during Christmas break. Your child’s school or playgroup is a good place to network and offer your child care services.
8. Direct Selling/Home Parties
Depending on what you sell, the holidays can be a great time for direct selling. Anything that can be purchased as a gift is more likely to sell. (Weight-loss and nutritional items might have to wait until the new year.) Though people may have more of a budget to spend on many items, they don’t have extra time. So home party-based selling might be tougher this time of year, especially if you are just getting started in direct selling and don’t have a loyal customer base. Making it easy for people to buy by having a website or making face-to-face contact is key this time of year.
9. Micro Labor
If you only have small bits of time (so often the case during the holidays!) to earn money, micro labor might be the thing for you. Micro labor sites like Mechanical Turk allow people to earn money by doing discrete tasks, similar to home data entry jobs. Each task could take as little as a few minutes and typically only pays a small amount. But they can add up to enough to help you pay for some gifts. Keep in mind, though, that many of these sites have a minimum threshold for payment (often around $50) so you will have to keep at it in order to move that money into your account.