After a subdued 2020, 2021 is shaping up to be a very busy year for get-togethers! We’re already seeing record travel, and we all know what that means: more people getting together to eat, visiting one another – and using gig services!

    If you’ve been on the fence about signing up for Instacart, now is a great time to try it.

    Rideshare Guy contributor Tyler Philbrook earned $143.86 in one 8-hour Instacart shift earlier this year. I bet you can make a lot more during these extra-lucrative shopping holidays!

    Check out this awesome earnings comment from a beginner on our Instacart shopper training video:

    Instacart requires minimal interactions beyond shopping, and the most profitable Instacart hours are typically during the day, making it the perfect gig work for people with kids or other caretaking responsibilities.

    Did you know you can accept Instacart orders that DON’T involve food?

    People will be going crazy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. They’ll be shopping online for gifts through December too. As an Instacart shopper, you can decide to deliver fun stuff from  Target, Dollar Tree, Sephora, Best Buy and more!

    If you’re ready to take advantage of the holiday rush, and make some great money while doing so, keep reading below or get started right now by signing up for Instacart!

    This article is sponsored by Instacart, but all opinions are our own.

    Why Shop for Instacart During the Holidays?

    In general, this is the busiest time of year in basically all sectors. Plus, people are spending money left, right and center. Just think about what you do during the holiday season and multiply that by how many people are out there doing the same thing. So why not get in on that holiday spending and make some money for yourself?

    One big expense this time of year is food. All of these holidays revolve around food (and alcohol) – mostly homemade food. This is where your opportunity comes in!

    Around the holidays, it makes a lot of sense to join Instacart in your area, so you can help others get their grocery shopping complete.

    It’s not hard to imagine: everyone is bustling around the family home, eating, drinking, playing, watching TV and then suddenly, someone realizes: they forgot to buy (butter, whole milk, more whiskey, etc.) BAM! Instacart order created!

    People will be shopping to feed immediate family as well as extended family and more. While you’re likely to get small orders this time of year, chances are you’ll also receive plenty of big orders, too. And don’t forget how many people will add alcohol this year to their order, which will add to your earnings with relatively little effort.

    Most people also tip more than usual during the holiday season. With Instacart, you keep 100% of your tips.

    Also, think outside of families! Holiday parties are going to start popping up in offices and businesses around the country. As this Reddit poster stated, “Last year I made a [lot] in tips delivering alcohol to the businesses in my area for their office holiday parties.”

    Best Holidays to Be an Instacart Shopper

    Still not sure if becoming an Instacart shopper is the right move for you? We can help with that. The following tips can give you the confidence you need to get started earning during this holiday season.

    Instacart Shopping Holiday Tips

    The holidays coming up have some of the highest earning potential out of the whole year:

    1. Thanksgiving — The week or two leading up to Thanksgiving will be flooded with people trying to get groceries for their big family meal.
    2. Days between Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) up until Christmas to deliver packaged gifts from Target, Best Buy, and more
    3. Christmas Eve — This night tends to be filled with homemade meals and treats.
    4. Hanukkah — This time of celebration is all about being with your family, giving gifts, and of course, eating food.
    5. New Year’s Eve — Expect more alcohol deliveries leading up to New Year’s.

    Expect Larger Orders

    During this time of year, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas, expect larger orders. While some people are intimidated by large orders, they’re not that bad! The best Instacart strategies do recommend paying extra attention when accepting double or triple orders, however.

    Why? It can be hard to keep large, multiple orders organized – especially if you have frozen food! If you consider yourself well organized, give it a shot, but if you’re just getting started, accept one order at a time until you feel more confident.

    Alcohol Orders

    Don’t be intimidated by alcohol orders, or grocery orders that include alcohol orders. They can be extremely lucrative!

    In our article where we interviewed Instacart shoppers who rely on their alcohol knowledge to earn more, many shoppers prefer alcohol orders because they know the requests aren’t overly large, or heavy, and are easy to get in and out of the store quickly.

    Also, as one person we talked to said, no one is ever unhappy to see an Instacart alcohol delivery – there’s usually a celebration involved!

    Holiday Traffic

    Despite an influx in traffic over the holidays, this is actually another reason why Instacart would be a great choice for gig work during the holidays.

    You typically don’t have to drive as far with Instacart as you would with Uber. If you’re closer to where you need to be to pick up the food and deliver it, you’ll be in traffic for less time throughout your day.

    Minimal Interactions with Customers

    If you’re concerned about your exposure risk, or simply prefer your own quiet company, don’t worry – you have very minimal interactions with customers beyond texting them and dropping off the orders!

    In addition, there’s much less wear and tear on your car (no passengers!), and Instacart orders are more frequent throughout the day. If you want to earn extra money for the holidays but can’t drive nights, signing up to shop with Instacart is a great option.

    Bonus Tip: How to Handle Out of Stock Items

    Yeah, we’re all still dealing with shortages around the United States! If you’re worried about constantly running into shortages… well, it will happen! Here are some helpful tips on how to handle out of stock items:

    1. Whenever possible, find a suitable replacement. If there is no suitable replacement available, that’s when you should do your best to contact your customer to see if they have something else in mind or if they would like a refund for that item.

    Example: I ordered a 3-lb turkey roast for my husband and myself for Thanksgiving last year. Instead, I received an almost 20-lb whole turkey. I would have gladly substituted a small beef roast instead of having a giant turkey for just two people.

    All of the best Instacart shoppers know communication is key, so be proactive! The Rideshare Guy actually recently published a really helpful (and very popular!) article on the top app shortcuts all delivery drivers should use – check out Jeff’s recommendations on quickly and safely sending texts about out-of-stock orders, substitutions and more.

    Expectation vs Reality

    2. If you’re not sure if you’ve found a suitable replacement, take a photo of what you’re looking at and send it to your customer so they can approve or reject it.

    3. If you can’t get ahold of your customer and don’t think there is a good replacement, the safest route is to give a refund and explain what happened. We’ve all been dealing with shortages for months now – customers will understand!

    If you’re still not sure if shopping for Instacart is the right move for you, read I Was an Instacart Skeptic — Here’s What Changed My Mind to see Tyler’s first-hand experience trying the app out.

    And if you’re still worried about making mistakes as a newbie Instacart shopper, take a look at Katie’s video below all about avoiding the top new Instacart shopper mistakes: 7 Mistakes Beginners Make with Instacart

    Are you thinking about becoming an Instacart shopper? What questions do you have about getting started?

    Ready to sign up and drive with Instacart? Get started here!

    -Paula @ RSG

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula has been writing for the Rideshare Guy since the fall of 2018. The main focus of her articles has been breaking news, reviewing new apps, driver experiences and more. Prior to her time with the Rideshare Guy, Paula worked as a writer and editor for various publications including local newspapers, sporting goods catalogs, online merchandise and more. She currently has a full-time job editing for a top beauty company and enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in weekly trivia.