Carving Pumpkins and 14 Other Cool Ways to Make Cash From Fall Holidays

By Mikey Rox on 21 October 2015 0 comments

If there's ever a time of year that we could use a little extra padding in our pockets, it's the holidays. So try adopting a different approach this year by taking on a side hustle. All you have to do is get up, get out, and make a commitment to staying in the black with just a little creative thinking. Take a look.

1. Offer Pet-Sitting Services

Dogs and cats can get pretty lonely when Mom and Dad are visiting family or on holiday vacation. To ensure their furry best friends are well cared for during this time of year, many pet parents opt for a sitter. Services like DogVacay and Rover help regular people like you and me earn extra money by providing a safe, loving environment for pets to spend time while their parents are busy. I'm a dog sitter on DogVacay myself, and I can tell you firsthand that it's a decent way to put a few bucks in your bank account. It's also a lot of fun to have a dog (I'm not a cat person) liven up your home.

Once vetted by the service, you can set your sitting fee and have fun for the weekend, or even the week, with a loving pet. Both DogVacay and Rover also offer insurance, 24-hour support, and other services that make pet sitting easy and fun.

2. Open Up Your Home to Travelers

If you have extra space in your home — a guest bedroom, or even pull-out couch — you can "micro-sublet" (fancy word for a short-term rental) your digs on sites like Airbnb and Roomorama. I've been a micro-subletter for the better part of a decade now, and I can honestly say it has enriched my life. Not only by providing an additional source of income, but because of all the people I've hosted over the years with whom I've interacted and often befriended.

Micro-subletting will only be successful if you're a people person — nobody wants to stay in the home of a Scrooge — but if you can make it work, you could potentially pay for all your holiday expenses and then some. No joke.

3. Host a Real or Virtual Garage Sale

I'm hosting a yard sale this month to get rid of too much accumulated junk in my basement and to pull in, ideally, a couple hundred bucks. Of course, there's not much time left to host an outdoor sale, but wouldn't you know that the Internet has solved that problem.

VarageSale, founded by a wife-and-husband team, is a social, local, and mobile online marketplace for families who want to sell their unwanted items to people in their neighborhoods. Once approved for a community, members can sell (and buy) everything from children's clothing to cars at a fraction of the retail price. As an added bonus, members can meet and develop closer ties with their neighbors — if that's your thing.

4. Clean Out Your Closets for Cash

Why not turn your closet clutter into some extra holiday cash? Tradesy lets users safely, securely, and easily sell or rent their clothing, shoes, handbags, wedding dresses, and more. They handle the transaction from the time a photo of the product is uploaded to its delivery to the purchaser's door.

Parents can also get in on the clothing resale action with Totspot, a parent-to-parent mobile marketplace that allows moms and dads to buy and sell gently used (or brand new) children's clothing and accessories. TotSpot boasts more than 150,000 active users today, and users often buy and sell just in time for the holidays.

5. Sales Referral Programs

If you have a robust social media following or a website that gets a lot of traffic, you may be able to take advantage of sales referral programs. If a customer buys an item as a result of your advertising, you get a cut. You can find these opportunities from large companies, like Amazon, and even some mom-and-pop merchants.

6. Social Media Influencer Programs

The number of sites that will pay social media users for promotion of products is increasing, and you don't have to be a Twitter or Instagram superstar to participate. Swayd, which connects micro-influencers (defined as anyone with a couple hundred followers) with brands, is creating a marketplace for these people to connect.

Instead of paying Kim Kardashian $100,000 for an Instagram or retweet, Swayd is paying 100,000 micro-influencers a dollar apiece to tweet. It's working with brands big and small, and if a campaign matches a profile, the influencer can see it and choose to accept the offer to post to their social media. Swayd will allow the market to define what a social media post is worth and allow influencers to show that even though their numbers are small, their engagement is strong.

7. Sell Unused Gift Cards and Merchandise Credit

If you've received gift cards for which you don't have much use (hey, it happens), or you've got merchandise credit to a store you don't particularly like, sell it to Raise for cold, hard cash.

Raise is an online marketplace that sells unwanted gift cards or store credits for real money. On the platform, consumers can choose their selling price and once the gift card sells, they have the option to be paid by check, PayPal, or direct deposit. Easy as that.

8. Become Part of Your Local Holiday Event Activities

Everybody thinks of being a mall Santa or one of his festive helpers, but there are lots of other opportunities to become part of your local holiday event activities, especially for Halloween. Someone's got to be the monsters in the haunted houses!

9. Entertain Kids With Scary Stories at Halloween Parties

Just like a magician or clown entertains at kids' parties, you too can read scary stories in costume to add a spook factor to local Halloween bashes.

"Dress up like a scary character and read books to kids," suggests marketing consultant Sharron Senter. Your ideal target audience is parents hosting Halloween parties. You could easily get the word out by [putting flyers in] mailboxes and posting to online community portals. You could also pitch your entertaining services to small independent retailers who have a customer following."

Taking this one step further, perhaps you could even become a regular reader at your local bookstore. Never hurts to ask.

10. Run Errands for Busy Holiday Shoppers

Some lucky ducks have assistants to do all the things they can't accomplish in a day, but what about the rest of the world? They often need help, too, and there's a possibility that folks in your area are seeking someone to run errands — like shop for meals, buy gifts, or other tasks. Post your errand-running service on Craigslist, Task Rabbit, or mention it to your NextDoor community to get started.

11. Provide Gift-Wrapping Services

For many folks, gift-wrapping is the bane of their existence. You know who they are in your family because your presents look like they were kicked all the way from one house to the other. Likewise, there are plenty of people out there looking for someone with the handy, crafty skills of Martha Stewart to turn their gifts from drab to fab — and they're willing to pay for it, too.

12. Help Decorate Area Homes for the Holidays

I'm completely able-bodied, but after it took me 11 hours to decorate the exterior of my home last Christmas in the freezing cold, I'm not altogether opposed to finding someone on Craigslist who's willing to assist me for at least part of the day. If I'm looking, others are looking, too.

13. Start a Small Fall/Winter Yard Work Business

When I was a kid, I made a good amount of holiday (and post-holiday) spending cash by shoveling snow from my neighbors' walkways and driveways. The best part about this prospect is that you can totally start your own fall and winter yard work business (which can also include raking leaves and other tasks) the old-fashioned way — by walking door-to-door. The easiest way to capitalize on this tactic is to wait until a weather event, like a snowstorm, to make your move. Some of your neighbors would much rather pay someone to do that grunt work for them, and that's money in the bank for you.

14. Carve Pumpkins

Fancy yourself an artist? Offer to carve pumpkins in your area for those who like to get in the holiday spirit, but don't want to get their hands dirty.

15. Sell Baked Good and Cooking Services

If you know your way around the kitchen, and your baked goods taste like they could be in a professional bakery, there's a market for your skills. To build your business, start with the people you know — friends and family. Let them know that you're taking orders for holiday events, and that you'd love to supply the cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries. Also, if you're a decent cook, you can offer your services to cater a small party or prepare a holiday meal for a small group of people. There are a fair amount of overwhelmed hosts out there who'd be happy to pay your fee to free up their time and ultimately stress less.

Do you have other ways to make cash from the holidays? Let me know some of your ideas in the comments below.

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