As Christmas inches closer and the festivities start to ramp up a notch, money tends to get a little light in the pocket, what with all the gift buying, parties and gluttonous detours to the supermarket’s cheese and wine aisle.
Luckily, though, the holidays are a great time for jobseekers, too, with thousands of temporary seasonal roles on offer – perfect for earning an extra bit of cash to cover the costs of all those gratuitous gingerbread lattes.
So, if you’re looking to top up your bank account – or at least keep it on an even keel going into January – these are the 25 best Christmas jobs out there.
1. Santa Claus
Obviously! Shopping centres and malls the world over feature grottos throughout the holiday period, giving children a chance to have an exclusive meet-and-greet with the big man. The only requirements for the role involve being slightly rotund around the midriff area as well as maintaining an effortlessly jolly persona (successfully passing a criminal record check would presumably help, too).
The pay is good, though, with mall Santas earning anything between $7,000 and $10,000 (£5,260–£7,510) a year depending on experience and location, according to Reader’s Digest – not bad for a season’s work!
2. Christmas elf
If you like the sound of the whole grotto thing but donning a huge red outfit and a fake beard isn’t really for you, then don’t worry. You can wear a ridiculous green one instead and help out as a Christmas elf. Your job description is pretty straightforward too: assist Santa in his general responsibilities, keep an orderly queue and make sure each child leaves with some form of festive candy for their trouble.
3. Ski instructor
If you really want to embrace the romanticised vision of a snowy Christmas, then you can apply to work in a seasonal position at a ski resort. Travel operators offer a wide variety of roles, including everything from chefs, cleaners and bartenders to guest services, management and ski instructors.
The best part is you’ll get to experience first-hand an authentic Alpine winter with log fires, chalets and hot chocolate in your downtime. All the things you see on the Christmas repeat of The Sound of Music but without your nan's drunken snoring.
4. Retail worker
Alternatively, you can stay at home and take an active role in the organised chaos that is Christmas retail temping. Pretty much every high street store in existence takes on extra staff over the festive period to meet the higher demand – easy money, right? Wrong.
Breaking up fights between frenzied and desperate shoppers? Check. Dealing with the colourful ravings of irate customers as they miss out on the last must-have item in stock? Been there. And working more hours than you even realised existed in a week (even though it said part-time on the advert)? Put it this way – you’ll earn every penny you make in this hectic and frenzied industry.
5. Delivery driver
Most smart people do their Christmas shopping online now – meaning postal delivery couriers need an extra hand too. UPS, Yodel and the Royal Mail all advertise for thousands of extra positions during the festive period, primarily in sorting offices but also in driving and driver support positions. Many of these temp roles can result in permanent employment too.
6. Uber driver
A great way to monetise your driving licence during the winter months is to work for Uber, the taxi service app where you can dictate your own working hours. The high number of office parties and general festive spirit mean that there are plenty of revellers and partygoers who require picking up and taking home. Premiums are higher at this time of year as well, meaning that you could make some pretty serious money.
7. Christmas cracker joke writer
Okay, we kind of made this one up. But when was the last time you saw an original joke in a Christmas cracker? Surely, they must be running out by now, meaning at some point the companies that produce these crackers will need new material. This is where you could come in – especially if you are an authority on dad jokes and slightly awful puns.
8. Queen’s speech writer
If you’d prefer to dictate something a little more sombre, then you could always try to give the Queen a helping hand in putting together her annual message to the Commonwealth. Although the words are traditionally self-written (apart from in 1932, when none other than Rudyard Kipling produced a draft), the Queen has ministers that advise her on the content.
If you don’t work in a high-ranking position close to the monarchy, though, then maybe you can try to help with Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message, which in recent years has been delivered by Edward Snowden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Marge Simpson, among others.
For pretty obvious reasons, people tend to get very excited about turkeys around this time of year – nobody wants to be that family who leaves it too late to secure a bird. As a butcher, this means your services are in high demand. Christmas is probably the most profitable time of the year, as people indulge themselves with all kinds of meats – especially festive favourites such as pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon, for the uninitiated).
10. Gift wrapper
For the creative and the artistic among us, wrapping other people’s gifts is a good way to earn an extra bit of cash, although beware: many of the big high street stores don’t take gift wrapping lightly, employing professional consultants to train their staff to a high standard. Alternatively, you can offer your services privately, although don’t be surprised if the thought of picking up a scissors and tape makes you physically wretch by the time you come to wrap your own gifts.
11. Personal shopper
If you’re not dexterous enough to wrap people’s gifts for them, why not buy them instead? Many people dislike shopping during the Christmas period and would rather pass it off to more willing and capable hands. You can work either in a freelance role as a personal shopper or for boutiques and department stores. If you’re good, you could even land yourself a high-end client, charged with securing gifts worth anywhere between $10,000 to $2 million (£7,510–£1.5 million).
12. Christmas tree decorator
Usually based in department stores, shopping malls and other public spaces, decorating Christmas trees is a hot ticket during the holidays. If you’ve got a creative flair when it comes to baubles and tinsel, this could be the seasonal role for you, although it is, unfortunately, just that: seasonal. You could compensate by branching out (get it?) into general Christmas decoration, although if you don’t enjoy climbing ladders, maybe you should stick to something a little safer…
13. Christmas tree light untangler
…Like this! As long as you don’t manage to get the wires wrapped around your neck, you should be relatively safe as a Christmas tree light untangler, a real position that was offered by Tesco in 2015 to Anya Mugridge, a student from Nottingham.
Mugridge was instructed to untangle three metres of lights in under three minutes to prove herself, with the full-time position requiring a ‘passionate and knowledgeable’ disposition. The job was created after Tesco conducted a survey in its Wrexham store in Wales, in which 89% of customers claimed they would rather buy new lights than take on the aggravation of untangling the old ones.
14. Ice skating instructor
Many towns and cities utilise temporary ice rinks over the winter period to get people in the Christmas spirit. Naturally a lot of people will want to learn how to ice skate. If you’re a competent and qualified coach, then you could give basic lessons. For the most part, though, you would likely work mainly with children, holding their hand and allowing the adults to get on with making fools of themselves.
15. Mince pie chef
If you’d prefer to be a bit steadier on your feet, you can earn your wares by baking and selling the UK’s favourite Christmas treat: the mince pie. If you don’t work professionally in a kitchen or bakery, then don’t worry: if your pies are good enough (maybe you have a mysterious family recipe or you just really, really like watching The Great British Bake Off), then people will buy them. Maybe make a few freebies first to get people hooked – and then watch as the requests flood in.
16. Rabbit sitter
Although pet sitting is a year-round business, Christmas is a particularly busy time as people travel to visit relatives but don’t want their pets to be alone. One of the less prominent animals that require such supervision are rabbits, who, it turns out, can be quite spoilt.
Rabbit-sitter Claire Rowland gives the bunnies in her care presents on Christmas Day, and even takes them for rabbit-friendly cakes as well as puts together a herb basket as a festive treat. Meanwhile, I only got a pair of socks and a Top Gear box set last year…
17. Reindeer handler
On a similar theme, if you’re going to be responsible for the welfare of other animals, then why not look after the most Christmassy animal there is? Angie Flint runs a reindeer hire company in the UK and regularly provides her animals for festive parties and events.
‘I’ll usually take two reindeer – being in pairs keeps them calm – and try to make sure they behave,’ she says. ‘We limit meet and greets to two hours so that they don’t get tired and our pens are big enough so they can get away from hands if they don’t want to be stroked… Their wellbeing has to come first.’
18. Christmas tree seller
It’s estimated that between 25 and 30 million real Christmas trees are sold each year in the US alone. Indeed, this popular custom has created a million-dollar industry, as with every festive season people set out to find the perfect tree for their home.
This is a lucrative seasonal job, and you could find opportunities working at a Christmas tree wholesale or by setting up your very own business. In the case of the latter, you’re going to need to do a bit more research, set up a constructive business plan and find a Christmas tree farm that could act as your provider before you open for business!
19. Mulled wine vendor
Christmas villages are one of the best festive activities you can do! They’re also where you will find merchants of any kind, including cheesemakers, chestnut sellers and, of course, mulled wine vendors!
This popular spiced drink is a staple at any winter market, and it's a great way to earn an income during the Christmas season. Usually, you’ll need a temporary licence to set up your Christmas pop-up stall at Christmas events, but this will depend on local law, so make sure to check first!
20. Christmas photographer
Whether it’s for the office Christmas party or their family Christmas cards, people love to employ professional photographers during this time of the year. So, if you have a camera lying around and the skills at hand, why not help others capture and spread the Christmas joy? You could also set up a photo booth at your local Christmas market and offer to take people’s Christmas portraits.
21. Christmas card designer
If you’re an artist or a graphic designer (or both!), you could use your talents to design holiday cards. HubSpot estimates that over 2 billion Christmas cards (PDF) are sent in the US alone each year, and the demand doesn’t seem to be slowing down!
You could set up an online store via Instagram or through Etsy, or print out a few batches and collaborate with local businesses. You could also create a portfolio which features your card designs or offer custom designs and ecards!
Logging might be a year-round job but during the Christmas season, the demand for fire logs climbs up as winter begins to roll in (that is if you live in the northern hemisphere). Plus, it’s not a Christmas wonderland until there’s chestnuts roasting on an open fire!
Lumberjacks are tasked with felling and cutting trees to produce wood for the cold winter months. While this may be a physically demanding and risky job, it can be quite a rewarding one, too, with entry-level loggers earning about $25 (£19) per hour.
23. Package handler
Post offices and parcel centres tend to get quite overwhelmed during this time of the year, especially now that most people do their Christmas shopping online. For that reason, seasonal package handlers are needed to lend an extra hand sorting through all the extra parcels.
To find out if there are any positions available, contact the central post office in your town or region and enquire about openings, or, alternatively, get in touch with local courier services such as FedEx or UPS.
24. Tour guide
Many countries welcome an influx of tourists during the winter months. Whether they’re travelling somewhere to enjoy the cold, snowy, Christmas-perfect weather, or running away from it to hotter and sunnier climates, this is the perfect opportunity to embark on a career as a seasonal tour guide. You could get hired by a local tour operator or freelance your services as a local tour guide, showing off the snowy mountains or sandy beaches of your country of residence.
25. Customer service representative
Christmas is a busy period for companies selling consumer goods. Of course, increased sales may also mean an increased demand for customer service representatives, as businesses need to deal with an even greater number of enquiries regarding delayed parcels, damaged or dysfunctional products, and so on. So, this is a great opportunity to get a job in customer service, answering emails and calls. Plus, you may even be able to do this from the comfort of your own home, as companies often employ remote workers for their temporary positions!
These are, of course, just a few of the more outlandish suggestions for seasonal careers. There are many other conventional roles that simply require extra numbers at Christmas, such as caterers, warehouse workers and shelf stackers. Unfortunately, unskilled workers in retail and hospitality positions don’t see any real wage rises for the unsociable hours; skilled professions, on the other hand, are handsomely compensated.
For the rest of us, though, we may just have to rely on that extra seasonal goodwill to make it worth our time!
Have you ever worked in any of the roles in this list? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 24 November 2017 and was written in collaboration with staff writer Melina Theodorou. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 29 November 2020.