The most wonderful time of the year is approaching quite quickly. For most, Halloween is the unofficial start of holiday season. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Years, Festivus or what have you, the one thing all holidays have in common is they’re going to cost you money. There’s no way around it. Costumes, gifts and decorations are all needed to get into the holiday spirit.
So to help pay the bills around this time of year, many people take on seasonal jobs to bring in a little extra income. Consider it sort of like an extra holiday bonus, if you will. These gigs range from working at your local department store to doing some hospitality service at your local vacation resort.
1. Retail Stores
Retail jobs are one of the best ways to earn money and work around your schedule at the same time. Whether you are a full-time student or have an actual day job, retail positions provide workers with flexible hours like nights and weekends. The drawback is that most entry-level jobs probably pay around minimum wage, but if you can get one with commission from sales, you can actually generate a pretty decent paycheck.
Plus, a major perk to working retail stores are the employee discounts. Not only do you make money from your job, you also save money on gifts. Stores like Target, Macy’s, Toys R Us and Best Buy always hire extra workers to help handle the holidays.
2. Christmas Tree Lots
Another common way to make some extra money during the holidays is to work on a pumpkin or Christmas tree lot. While the base pay may not be great, you can collect quite a bit of cash in tips. Plus, lugging around heavy pumpkins and trees is a good way to get that extra workout in. You’re killing two birds with one stone.
This is also a great way for teenagers to get some work experience under their belt if it’s their first job. While retail stores serve as a first job for many younger workers, the companies typically prefer some experience if possible. Jobs like these help solve that chicken and the egg problem.
3. Shopping Mall Santa’s and Elves
If you like kids and dressing up in costumes, being a mall Santa Claus may not be so bad. After all, the ultimate test of your holiday spirit is whether or not you’re willing to don the red suit. There are actually talent agencies that specialize in representing Santa look-alikes and the top ones can make as much as $10,000 in a season, according to a 2007 Slate article. That’s definitely no lump of coal. If you’re a newbie Santa, don’t expect to make even close to that, though.
If costumes and characters aren’t up your alley, that’s OK too. Mall Santas get all the attention, but you can also find a nice low-key job behind the camera as well. So if taking pictures is something you enjoy as a hobby, translate that energy to something productive and rewarding, both financially and mentally.
4. Delivery Jobs
Shipping companies like FedEx, UPS and DHL normally experience a higher volume in packages around this time of the year. With people ordering gifts online or mailing presents across the country, these shipping companies look to add on some extra manpower to meet the demands. The pay may not be the best, but you get to drive around a cool delivery truck.
Even better, if you’re looking to build a career, companies like UPS claim to provide great upward mobility and promoting employees within the company, and FedEx offers great benefits if you can turn your part-time gig into a full-time job.
5. Hospitality and Hotels
Resorts and hotels near tourist destinations usually see a spike in guests around the holidays. If you like living in the lap of luxury, this is as close as you can get without actually spending any of your own money. If you like hitting the slopes, ski resorts are a prime target this time of year. Depending on the position and prestige of the employer, you can really enjoy some nice perks usually only reserved for affluent guests.
Other Jobs to Consider
There are many other types of jobs that ramp up hiring during holiday season like customer service call centers, warehouses and restaurants. You should look for seasonal and holiday jobs that fit your availability, career goals and financial needs. While some may just be looking for a few extra bucks on the side, others may be looking for an entry-level job that gets their foot in the door for a career.
What are some experiences you’ve had working a holiday job? What did you get out of it?
Guest contributor Henry Truc is a personal finance writer for www.GoBankingRates.com. He cut his teeth learning about balance sheets and income statements for publicly traded stocks and hopes to use those same principles to help readers in need with their own personal budgets. His work has appeared on Yahoo! Finance, Nasdaq.com, and many other publications. He has interviewed CEOs and Wall Street analysts, as well as investment fund managers and economists, but what warms his heart the most is explaining the dangers of paying only the minimum balance on credit card debt. It’ll cost you more in the long run! His best friend is named CAGR, who taught him the undeniable power of interest on savings and CD accounts. He hopes to spread the word to any and all who will listen. If you have a problem; if no one else can help, and if you can find him… maybe you can ask him a question relating to personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @HenryTalksMoney.