There’s nothing quite like the holidays.
The scent of evergreen, peppermint and fresh snow provides a rush of nostalgia, and families come together after months — or even years — apart. There are feasts of honey-baked ham and roast turkey, plus tons of gift-giving and mirth.
For the first few days the family is in town, that is.
Yes, nothing gold can stay. And that goes for quality time with the families in our lives, as well.
We love our families, we really do. Especially around the holidays. But sometimes you just need some “me time” to escape the frenetic atmosphere during the season.
For me, I know my two brothers will find some ingenious way to embarrass, humiliate or otherwise annoy me at some point around Christmas. Last time it involved a dirty diaper hurled at my head (and plenty of wine).
Plus, as my first holiday season as a married dude, I’ll have to put up with…er… enjoy the company of my in-laws for a lot longer than previous years.
It appears I’m not alone in needing some time to myself to recharge from family shock, according to a recent survey by Shopkick. During Thanksgiving, for example, 75% of Americans chose to cook the turkey to avoid spending time with family.
If I weren’t liable to burn down the dang kitchen, that’d be a solid strategy for getting some “me time.” But what about us non-culinary types, who should be legally required to stay 500 yards from a turkey fryer?
When I asked around, the most popular tactics seemed to involve heavy drinking in one way or another. Come on, folks, there are definitely better ways.
Here are six ingenious ways to avoid the family during the holidays. And as a bonus, you’ll make cold, hard cash doing so to help build back savings that went toward fancy hand towels to impress your mother-in-law.
1. Surviving the Holidays is as Easy as Taking a Walk
“I’m going to take a walk,” is the international signal you’re looking for a little solitude.
It’s also the perfect way to ease out of a family group hug and escape the house for a bit. And in case your in-laws call you out on that two-and-a-half-hour trek, just explain you’re hitting step goals — and making major cash — with the help of a few slick apps.
Achievement is an app that actually pays you to be active and healthy. And even better, you’ll make more cash by sharing your progress on social media (Check the ‘gram, ma! I was totally power walking during Yankee Swap!)
You just need to connect Achievement to one, or several, of your health or fitness apps, such as Fitbit, MyFitnessPal or Apple’s Health app. Then you earn points based on step goals or a simple Tweet storm about your fitness progress.
2. Hide Out in the Bathroom During Those Heated Holiday Arguments
When a political topic surfaces during my holiday get-togethers, I turn to the porcelain throne for solace before the argument starts getting heated.
Yes, the trusty old bathroom break is an excellent option for avoiding the drama that can unfold during family gatherings. But instead of wasting time scrolling through happier memories on Facebook, make some money doing surveys, instead.
Joany, a health-care concierge service, wants to ask you some questions about your insurance coverage. In exchange for a 10-minute survey, you get $25. (You can take more than 10 minutes, you know, in case Uncle Frank decides to treat everyone to his traditional acapella renditions of Queen’s greatest hits.)
To sign up for Joany, you’ll need to have bought insurance in 2017 through a broker, plan or through healthcare.gov — not through your school or employer. You also can’t be on Medicare, Medicaid or receive coverage from the VA.
If you’re looking to eat up more than 10 minutes, Opinion Outpost is another option for paid online surveys. There are usually five to 10 surveys available per month, which means you’ll have plenty of time to “meditate.”
Survey Junkie, an app that lets you fill out as many surveys as you want, gives you points for each one you complete. Once you earn 1,000 points, you can snag a $10 gift card to start stocking up on gifts for next year.
3. Make a Few Strategic Last-Minute Shopping Trips
If three-fourths of Americans avoid family by cooking during the holidays, imagine how many hit the grocery store for a little peace and quiet.
This one takes a little planning — I’ll “forget” to grab a tub of whipped cream or package of cranberries. Then when the trouble starts brewing between the turkey and pumpkin pie servings, I exclaim, “Pumpkin pie without whipped cream? Not in my house!”
Dosh will give you cash back if you do this strategic “last-minute” shopping at one of its 100,000 partners. So you’ll save some cash while you save some sanity.
Just link one of your credit or debit cards to Dosh, and it will rack up cash automatically. You won’t even have to bother with taking pictures of receipts.
You can also sign up for Ibotta for specific cash-back deals at grocery stores and other retailers in your area.
Ibotta is particularly great for alcohol purchases, if you’re like one of my friends who just plans to to play a Turkey Day drinking game based around Grandma Rita’s outbursts.
Oh, and you could always go shopping for someone else by driving for grocery-delivery service Shipt. But that would be a lot harder to explain.
4. Get a Head Start on Those New Year’s Resolutions at the Gym
Expect a smart aleck remark, but not too much nagging if you use the gym as an escape strategy when the gravy — and conversation — starts to stick.
It’s a win-win-win. You get some time to yourself in the old iron dojo, a head start on that resolution to drop 50 pounds — and this online program will pay you for it.
HealthyWage lets you set weight-loss goals, then bet on whether you’ll accomplish them. Don’t worry, your mom whipping out the home movies should be enough motivation to get you out of the house and into that velour track suit this holiday season. (How could I have possibly been naked that much as a child?!)
In fact, Teresa Suarez lost 68 pounds and won more than $2,400 using HealthyWage.
Now, you’ll just have to figure out how to gain that all back by the next holiday season. I suggest s’mores Pop-Tarts. Tons of them.
5. Don’t Let Family Get Too Close — Rent Out Your Spare Room for the Holidays
Don’t give your in-laws the opportunity to get too close this holiday season.
Have a spare room? Might as well list it on Airbnb.
If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.
Taking a few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.
Here are a few tips:
- Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events in your area.
- Be a good host, and make sure your place is stocked with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
- Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.
Here’s the link to sign up as an Airbnb host.
In the end, holidays are supposed to be all about quality time with the family. But who says you can’t set boundaries — and make some quick cash — as well?
6. Drive Your Way to Holiday Sanity — and Extra Money
Here’s the scene: My two brothers have decided now is the perfect time to air their grievances about the gifts they exchanged last year. (Shaving cream and a stuffed alligator claw? Really, Chad?!)
Instead of getting sucked into the fray, my phone buzzes. “Welp, gotta go make a pick-up,” I say as I rush out the front door with a smirk.
Uber gives you the perfect excuse to leave the house when things start to go south. Plus, you can commiserate with your passenger about how annoying your family has been — maybe they’ll take pity on you with a big tip.
Plus, you might meet a way cooler family for you to join. Just kidding, ma.
Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He loves every member of his family and would never, ever use any of the advice in this post.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.