If the prospect of holiday spending has you stressed and wondering how your wallet will survive the holiday season, there’s good news. Seasonal hiring started early this year. And that gives you plenty of time to earn the extra $1,000 that the average American spends on gifts and holiday parties at this time of year. Here are 20 side hustles for happier holidays.

Holiday hiring

Better yet, the pay offered to part-time seasonal workers could turn surprisingly generous in 2019. Even in ordinary times, employers pay up for holiday workers, says Beatrice Pang, vice president of strategy for Wonolo, an online platform that helps people find work in warehouses, retail stores and restaurants. The average employer pays 8% to 9% more during the holiday season than they do from January through July, according to Wonolo’s data.

But with the U.S. unemployment rate at historic lows, competition for increasingly scarce workers could push up pay and perks. Indeed, in a recent pitch to attract seasonal staff, Target launched a “team member appreciation” progam. In addition to giving seasonal workers steep discounts on food and other merchandise, the retailer will spend $2 million on gift card give-aways for hourly workers.

Hourly wages

What kind of pay can you expect, if you take a part-time holiday job? Wonolo’s analysis of its platform data indicates that delivery drivers earn roughly of $19 per hour; merchandizing positions pay a little over $15 per hour and administrative jobs pay a cool $32 hourly. Notably, event staff earn an average of $13 per hour during the summer, but are likely to earn 30% more — $17 on average — during the holidays, according to Wonolo.

Top platforms for holiday hiring

Of course, Wonolo isn’t the only online platform that sees a seasonal bump in business. Other sites that specialize in shift work, including Jitjatjo and SnagWork, are often swamped with job orders during the winter holidays, too. So are delivery services, ranging from Amazon Flex to GrubHub.

In addition, sites that provide ancillary services, such as shopping, babysitting and cooking for holiday parties see a boost. Revelers who travel to see relatives over the holidays push up demand for pet-sitters too.

Some sites to consider if you’re willing to babysit: Bambino and Urban Sitter.

If you want to cook for — or offer up your home to host —  holiday parties, consider EatWith and CozyMeal.

Like shopping — even for groceries? Sign up for Instacart, or Shipt. Instacart and Shipt specialize in buying and delivering groceries.

The best site to advertise your availability as a petsitter? Rover.

Direct hiring

However, where online platforms are attractive for people who already have full-time work and need maximum flexibility when scheduling a side hustle, traditional retailers may be the better choice for those who have the ability to schedule in advance.

The reason? Most retailers, restaurants and delivery services in the brick-and-mortar world make their part-time staff employees. That means that they’ll pay the employer’s portion of your Social Security and Medicare taxes (which saves you 7.65% of your wages). And they’ll withhold income taxes from your paychecks, so you won’t have to worry about whether you’ve underpaid.

If you work enough hours, you might qualify for other benefits, such as health insurance, paid time off and retirement plan contributions, too. Better yet, even part-time work often qualifies you for employee discounts on the sort of merchandise you’re likely to be shopping for during the holidays.

Top employers

Even if you’re only planning to work for a few months, it makes sense to focus your energy on getting a job with top-ranked employers, such as Costco, Trader Joe’s and Starbucks. These companies are known for paying better than minimum wage, providing attractive working conditions and offering great benefits.

Costco, which has more than 500 U.S. warehouses, hires workers with a wide array of skills. The store’s hiring site says the warehouse operation needs cashiers, cake decorators, opticians, tire installers, travel agents, meat cutters and pharmacists, among other things. Last year, Costco hiked its starting wage to $14.50 per hour.

Trader Joe’s doesn’t pidgeon-hole its “crew” into set roles, such as cashiers or shelf-stockers. Instead, most members of the staff float between different jobs. The stores pay competitive wages and offer merit raises twice annually. Anyone who works more than 15 hours a week is offered some health benefits too.

Starbucks has one of the nation’s most generous benefit packages for part-time workers. If you maintain at least half-time status, you get everything from medical and dental insurance to a college assistance plan.

Target’s latest push for seasonal workers is also alluring. In addition to getting at least $13 per hour, Target’s seasonal hires get discounts on clothing, food and all the other items the stores sell. Two hourly workers in each of the chain’s 1,800 retail stores and its 39 distribution centers will win $250 gift cards each month as an extra incentive. Target’s goal is to hire 130,000 holiday workers nationwide.

*Updated 12/22/2020


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