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Five Holiday Jobs That Aren't (Too) Hideous

Five Holiday Jobs That Aren't (Too) Hideous

By Rachel Korowitz

It's the holiday season, and you have to buy presents for your eight siblings, your mom, your dad, your cat, five sets of grandparents (we won't even ask how that happened), plus all your cousins, friends, and the people in your Harry Potter fan-fic group. You need some cash. Fast. But rather than jumping in to the first gig that drops in your lap and deep-six-ing your social life, your sleep schedule, and your all-around sanity, take a look at our handy-dandy guide to some traditional (and not-so-normal) holiday jobs.

1. BABYSITTING

Job Description: Make yourself available to watch the little ones while the older types head off to holiday parties, present shopping excursions, Christmas dinner, and New Year's Eve festivities.

Required Skills: Love (or tolerance) of kidlets; the ability to make awesome pillow forts, lose graciously at Wii, and read "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" 40,000 times; a sense of authority, the moxy to make sure you get paid at the end of the night.

Pros: Mad cash/an inflated hourly rate, generous tips. Plus, if you're a member of a religion that doesn't celebrate Christmas, it's just "Saturday." You'd probably be better off using it to score some extra pay; the kids you're looking after will probably be so glued to their new toys, they'll hardly notice you're there.

Cons: Let's say you're not big on childcare. Imagine evening after evening wrangling toddlers who are juiced up on Christmas sugar cookies, non-alcoholic nog and greed. Also, your friends are probably already doing something super-fun that night--like staring at each other, or seeing how many people fit on a couch--and it's hard not to feel like you're missing out.

2. CATERING

Job Description: Haul drinks, hors d'oeuvres (pronounced horse duh-vor-ez) and maybe entrees around on a platter at holiday get-togethers. These shindigs can be as public as the hilarious Grand Prospect Hall or as intimate as your friend's aunt's studio apartment.

Required Skills: Balance; ability to blend into the wallpaper; tolerance for annoying people; discretion, in case you see any scandalous hijinx unfold. Oh—and you should probably have a clean, button-down white shirt, a pair of black pants, and shoes that are comfortable enough to trudge around in for six-plus hours at a time.

Pros: Tips. There's a chance you might be fed—sometimes, the more generous catering halls and restaurants will feed the servers a "staff meal" before the start of the shift—and you might get to hobnob with some cool people. Also, do a good job, and you're almost guaranteed to be hired back. (It's really hard to find people to work the holiday shifts.)

Cons: The on-the-books pay is usually lousy, and you will invariably go home smelling like the stinkiest food that was served. (Hair that reeks of salmon bisque? Check.) Also, get ready to sweat. Like, through your clothes. Kitchens are hot as Hades, and when you're trucking around a full tray of empties and running errands like you're in the middle of a relay race, you're going to feel like you just hit up a super-sized track practice.

3. RETAIL

Job Description: Deal with inventory, stock items on the floor, help people with merchandise, and, if you've got cashier duty, ring 'em out.

Required Skills: Patience. Also, patience.

Pros: Some retail stores look at the holiday season as trial by fire, so if you rock the job, they may just make you a permanent member of the staff. Hellloooooo, steady stream of income. Also, you might get a store discount, which is great if you're working for a brand you already love. (Yay, Anthropologie! Boo, the Brussels Sprouts Farmers of America Outlet Store.)

Cons: Black Friday, the insane day after Thanksgiving when people trample each other to get deals at 3am. If you're on the job that day, Bergstein help you. Also, you know how people get stressed about the holidays in general? They get about eight times as stressed when they have to deal with picking out presents. You will likely get yelled at, cried on, and verbally abused when you've done nothing wrong. Usually, store policy is to suck it up and deal with it, because the customer's always right. (If you're shooting to be a psych major in college, this might actually be good prep.)

4. CAROLING

Job Description: Sing carols and holiday songs at restaurant and retail venues. You're usually part of a quartet/quintet or have some kind of musical backing.

Required Skills: A great, loud voice; the ability to harmonize and read/learn music; an unflappable smile.

Pros: You're being creative! You're singing, and people actually want to hear it! Little kids dance along to your songs, parents clap, and there's an general happy feeling in the air. Plus? TIPS. And? You might just get a date or two out of it.

Cons: Public derision, especially if you have to wear some kind of outlandish seasonal costume. At times, you will want to impersonate Teflon, particularly when insults or appetizers are thrown.

5. MALL ELF

Job Description: The epitome of awfulness.

Required Skills: Tolerance; a shrink who's on-call 24/7.

Pros: N/A

Cons: Losing faith in humanity; the contracting the  diseases known as "Jingle Foot" and "Elf Ear" from your costume.

Do you have a job for the holidays? Tell us about it!

Related post: The Perks of Working at a Movie Theater

Topics: Life
Tags: babysitting, jobs, shopping, christmas, malls, holiday 2010, catering, retail

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