Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and practice gratitude for all that we have. But what if you can’t afford to go back home and be with your family? And, what if that reason was that you’re deeply in debt? That was a question I wrestled with when I lived in New York City and Portland, Oregon. I couldn’t afford to go back home to Los Angeles. The good news is that I didn’t sit at home and mope. Instead, I capitalized on the opportunity and side hustled. Here are four side hustles I’ve done during Thanksgiving.

1. Kitchen assistant

I searched Craigslist and found this family who was looking for someone who could be a kitchen assistant on Thanksgiving. Someone that could cut vegetables, help load and unload things in the oven, assist with serving, and clean up. I met the family ahead of time so we could get familiar with each other.

On Thanksgiving, I worked for about six hours and made $300. The tasks were fairly simple — I helped with dishes, serving, putting things in the oven, etc. The only embarrassing part was that I was totally responsible for burning some green beans. They were inedible, and I was horrified. The family wasn’t too happy about it either but luckily were pretty nice about it.

Aside from the kitchen catastrophe, I made good money that day which helped me a lot while paying off debt.

2. Pet sitter

The people that could afford to go home and see their family often left their pets behind. Even the most independent of pets need some care, so pet sitting is a great side hustle during the holidays. I found yet another gig on Craigslist from someone in my neighborhood looking for a pet sitter.

We lived three blocks from each other and met for coffee ahead of time. She checked my references and boom, got the gig.

The pet owner would be gone for 5 days and I’d take care of one cat and one dog. I also was able to stay at her place, which was a godsend. Having roommates is necessary in NYC so having her place to myself was a real treat.

This gig consisted of walking and feeding the dog, cleaning the cat’s litter, feeding the cat, and giving some medicine to the cat. It wasn’t too much work, and I ended up making another couple hundred dollars. As someone that loves pets but could not have them at the time, it was the perfect gig for me.

3. Coat check

In the fall when it gets cold outside, it’s hard to dress just right. It’s freezing outside but as soon as you get inside it’s toasty. Because of this, people dress in layers but as soon as they get inside they’re ready to take their jacket off. It’s annoying walking around with your jacket the whole night at a party, which is why coat check is often offered.

One of the TaskRabbit gigs I got during Thanksgiving was to be the coat check person at the party. It was easy — I took people’s jackets, gave them a number, and then returned their items when they came back.

This was a very easy gig and I made $20 per hour. You will find that many people are willing to pay higher rates or tip well for people who work on the actual holiday.

4. Event assistant

Another side hustle that I had during Thanksgiving was being an event assistant for a Thanksgiving party. There was a big group of people so the host needed some help. This was another gig I found on TaskRabbit.

The duties consisted of setting up and cleaning up the space, putting out the food, monitoring the food and drink for refills, taking out the trash, and more. I helped out with pretty much anything that was needed to make the event flow well.

I work as an event planner now, aside from my writing, and working these types of gigs helped me learn about all the little things you should think about when hosting or planning an event.

How will the food taste after it’s sitting out a while? Some food is just plain nasty when it’s lukewarm or cold. What will the room temperature be? Are there food options for people with dietary restrictions? There’s a whole host of things to think about for events and I was there to assist with all of it.

I enjoyed it very much. The best part is there was often extra food and wine leftover, which I took home. It lasted a week and helped reduce my food and drink budget too.

Where to find side hustles

Do you want to earn more this Thanksgiving? Check the “Gigs” section on Craigslist and TaskRabbit. Of course, use common sense and discretion, and if possible, meet the person ahead of time in a public place.

You can also drive for Uber or Lyft. In regards to pet sitting, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. Let your network know that you are free and available to be a pet sitter. A simple reminder can help keep you top of mind when people are looking for someone to help out on Thanksgiving.

Also, because Thanksgiving is a holiday, you may be able to charge premium rates as well. If nothing else, many kind people will give generous tips during this time.

Bottom line

It can be tough during Thanksgiving if you can’t go home or you don’t have anyone to spend it with. But, you don’t need to stay home lonely or feeling sorry for yourself! Instead, you can take on a side hustle as people always need help during Thanksgiving. From ride shares to coat check, event assistant to bartender, pet sitting to catering help, there are a ton of things you can do to help someone out and make more money during the Thanksgiving holiday.


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