Thinking of making a little extra dough this holiday season by listing as a short-term rental? We talked to former Airbnb employee and SuperHost Daniel Rusteen for his best tips on hosting a rental through the holidays.

December is right around the corner, and along with stocking up on tree lights and baking gingerbread cookies, you’re probably thinking about how to bring in some extra income around the holidays.

But just because things slow down and people tend to visit family doesn’t mean you can’t maximize your second home or vacation property. It just takes some extra planning and effort — we’ve put together some tips for renting on Airbnb during the holiday season. Get out the jingle bells, and bake some cookies!

“Changing your title and adding decorations separates you in a good way from your competition,” SuperHost (a top-ranked host on Airbnb) and former Airbnb employee Daniel Rusteen told Inman.

Expect less traffic

November and December are, according to Rusteen, some of the slowest months of the year for the website — people tend to spend more time at home and, when they do travel, prefer to stay with family.

Hosts may need to compete with the larger number of homeowners left without guests and, as a result, lower prices somewhat.

Other strategies include offering a friends & family discount, lowering the minimum number of nights guests can book, adding the words “discount” to the listing description and allowing guests to bring extra people without charging extra.

“Prices are the lowest in these months,” said Rusteen. “If you don’t plan for the slow season during the busy season, you’re a rookie host who hasn’t yet figured out the basics.”

Consider renting an event space

Airbnb is not used only by those who need to spend the night. Around the holidays many are trying to find an event space to host large corporate and family parties — if you have such a space, this is your time to shine (and bring in the visitors.)

A holiday wreath on a door

Victoria1988 /

Jingle bells!

The extra-committed can also put up decorations and change the photos on their listing to be in tune with the holidays. While a lot of work, it could be the sparkle that makes your listing stand out from others in a slower period.

But even if you don’t want to retake your listing photos, a wreath or some sparkling lights can make a home look more cozy and inviting during a cold time of the year.

“Sometimes guests have to travel during this time of year to visit family and friends,” write Arizona Airbnb hosts Kelly and Larry. “They really appreciate the extra effort and ‘homey’ feel of the house. I am happy when I see guests on the porch with the pumpkins lit or by the Christmas tree sipping hot chocolate in the mugs I left for them.”

Play up what’s most relevant

If you don’t want to decorate, another strategy is to play up the winter-related features of your property in the listing description.But don’t just stop at what’s inside the house — if you live near a ski resort or popular Christmas market, be sure to sing their praises to the browsers.

“Maybe you advertise your heated floors or space heaters more so during winter,” said Rusteen. “Maybe you mention how there’s plenty of hot water for 10 showers back-to-back-to-back.”

Be prepared to work

Maybe you had planned to take things easy during the holidays but, if you want to earn money on Airbnb, you should be prepared to work outside of conventional hours.

Be available to answer questions and resolve problem even if it’s the holiday season – or hire a company who can do it for you.

Around the holidays, guests may also be more prone to bend the rules and host friends in your space. You can go with it and play up the fact that your space can be used for holiday gatherings in your listing.

But if you don’t have the space or the desire for that kind of thing, Rusteen suggests hosts use an app like NoiseAware to track excessive noise from your place. But if you’re renting on New Year’s Eve, be ready for anything.

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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