5 High-Paying Holiday Jobs That Do Not Involve Elf Costumes

You don’t have to referee fights among hot-headed shoppers or police the Santa line to make extra money during the holidays. The key to finding decent seasonal jobs is to look beyond the obvious places.


Sure, you’d love some extra cash this holiday season, but you shiver at the idea of standing for hours refereeing while shoppers fight over hot toys or dressing as an elf?

The great news is that there are plenty of holiday jobs that pay high rates for temporary work and generally don’t require standing for hours, enduring extreme temperatures or reasoning with unruly shoppers.

The secret to finding those jobs is to think beyond the obvious places, such as retail stores and warehouses. Here are five great ideas to start your job search. Don’t delay! Start searching now.

1. Apartment rental agent

No one really wants to move into a new apartment or home in winter or during the holidays, of course, so business is slower than during other seasons. Still, the home ownership rates have fallen for the past eight years. That’s created a boom in rentals. Full-time apartment complex managers still want to take vacations during the winter holidays, so many call upon temporary and part-time employees. Duties vary among companies, but temporary or part-time agents generally explain offerings to prospective tenants, show them apartments, and collect completed rental agreements. Downtime is often plentiful, and agents are allowed to fill their time with personal tasks (think reading or online shopping or games), as long as they stay on site and readily available for prospective tenants’ questions. Average pay rates: About $14 an hour, according to Salary.com. You can visit or call apartment complexes and ask about employment opportunities or use one of the many nationwide apartment complex placement services such as AAA Apartment Staffing.

2. Parking valet attendants

High-end hotels and restaurants ramp up customer service during the holidays, of course, and parking valet attendants are in demand. In fact, the quest for valet parking is so high that some cities, such as San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston and Chicago, have valets-on-call that meet you at your destination, park your car and then return it to you when you request it. (Yes, they’re bonded, trained and reputable). And some of those companies, such as Luxe Valet, offer flexible schedules, according to The Wall Street Journal. Average pay rates: Anywhere from $6 an hour (plus tips) up to an estimated $15 an hour (plus tips), depending on employer, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

3. Hotel concierge

Love your city and enjoy helping others discover its high points? High-end hotels and resorts need help satisfying demand for their concierge services during the winter holidays. The duties vary, of course, but can include responding to requests and questions (where to eat, tourist attractions and transportation options), summoning maintenance teams to make needed repairs, and managing multiple phone lines, according to LoveToKnow.com. Of course, an outgoing, friendly personality and clean, modest appearance – always an asset for any job applicants – are especially key for those hoping to secure these positions. Average pay rates: Again, it depends on the employer, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted the average is about $14 an hour.

4. Ambassador of Fun

OK, maybe the job advertised by Great Wolf Lodge in Poconos, Pennsylvania, has a one-of-a-kind title, but many hotels, resorts and recreational parks need help keeping family fun flowing in their recreational centers. Duties vary, of course, but include everything from leading certain events — think sing-a-longs and face painting — to keeping supplies stocked and maintenance notified when repairs are needed. These jobs are often at resorts, such as Great Wolf Lodge, but don’t forget local recreation centers, roller- and ice-skating rinks and even historic sites like George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. Adults are needed to guide guests and even serve as character actors in some locales. Average pay rates: They range from about $9 an hour at Great Wolf Lodge (according to Glassdoor.com) to $30 an hour for character actors employed by Kaleideoscope.com

5. Professional line waiters

Those who want the latest Apple products or tickets to a popular event but just don’t have time to wait in line can be gold for those who have the time and patience to wait in line. The best-known line waiting service may well be Same Old Line Dudes (SOLD!) in New York, but a quick look in other cities show the demand has fueled services in most major cities. Average pay rates: As with other ad hoc jobs, it depends. A recent story in the New York Daily News spotlighted a line sitter who claimed he earns $1,000 a week. Of course, not everyone earns that. Last year, a round-up of Black Friday line sitter rates advertised on Craigslist – done by DailyDot.com — showed the market varies depending on location.

Do you have experience working the holidays? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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