Christmas is both a time for giving and a time for earning. So take a look at these 20 festive fund-raisers - unique and clever ideas to help you cash in on this fixed period of celebration. No matter what the time of year, Christmas is always coming!
As well as a time for giving and considering those less fortunate than ourselves, Christmas is a season of great opportunity. It is a time of year retailers enjoy most, with many scooping over half their annual profits as consumers hurry to the shops for their December spending bonanza.
You too can grab a slice of the Christmas cake.
Here are 20 clever and unique ideas to help you cash in on the forthcoming festive period. They range from modest home based craft businesses perfect for part time profiteers, to mega money full scale retail enterprises that could rake in enough cash for you to retire for the rest of next year!
Before the rush starts in earnest, take a look at these '20 Christmas Crackers' and consider how you can make some extra money during the holiday season.
1. Personal Shopping Service
Strange as it may sound, not everyone enjoys trudging through crowded shopping centres in the wind/rain/snow in search of suitable gifts for family and friends, or dragging a trolley loaded to the brim with food through a packed supermarket. There must be something wrong with them! If you are someone who actually enjoys Christmas shopping why not make some money by doing other people's?
Potential customers include fairly well off senior citizens who want to hand over the responsibility of getting their festive goodies, and busy professionals who just do not have time to go to the shops. Visit local neighbourhoods and drop leaflets through doors to find customers. Better still, introduce yourself in person - make sure you are polite and dressed smartly. Once you have an interested customer, draw up a detailed shopping list. Charge either by the hour (£10-£15 is reasonable), or a commission (say, 10%) on the total value of the goods, plus travel and parking expenses.
2. Christmas Shopping Shuttle Service
The local corner shop is no good when it comes to buying presents for the family. People want to go to the nearest shopping centre, or better still, a big undercover mall with all the major high street establishments together in one place. Trouble is, for many people, it is not easy to get there. In rural areas especially there may be no regular public transport service, while others may be put off by the thought of city centre driving and parking.
This is why there is demand for a shuttle service picking shoppers up and taking them to the big regional shopping centre of their choice, and then dropping them back home again. This is the perfect enterprise for someone with a van/passenger vehicle. Put up posters and distribute leaflets to promote this service. Another tip is to contact social clubs, OAP and community groups in order to secure block bookings.
3. Printing Personalised Christmas Cards
If you have a computer with graphics capabilities and a printer, this could be the opportunity for you. These days many PCs with word processing/DTP programmes have 'clip art' installed featuring a range of images and fancy borders (or else you can buy them on disk from a computer peripherals supplier). Using these, it is easy to put together template cards with suitably festive images and wording. Ideally you will be able to print the card out in full colour, fold it, and have it ready for sale. For this reason it is a useful add on for a print business.
However, people working at home with just a basic black and white printer can get in on the act by purchasing special coloured paper designed for computer printers (sold by the better quality stationers) decorated with an attractive background pattern.
One way of working is to print a range of cards for all the family (i.e. "Merry Christmas Mum, Dad, Brother, Sister, Grandma", etc.), package them together and get them stocked in gift shops. Even better, take orders for personalised cards. One option is to market the service to local small businesses. Alternatively, set up your computer/printer at jumble and car boot sales and print out personalised cards on the spot. The personal touch means that customers will love them - especially if they can choose the images and wording themselves.
4. Creating Christmas Stockings
Anyone skilled with a sewing machine could make and sell beautiful Christmas stockings out of felt or velvet. Create a selection of standard stockings and get them stocked in gift shops, or sell them yourself. Boost profits by adding people's names to them for a fee.
5. Making Festive Garlands
Another craft orientated earning way is creating Yuletide garlands and selling them to local businesses and residents. Use ivy, twigs, sprigs of holly and mistletoe as the basis of each wreath, with a wire support/hanger. These materials can be purchased from flower and craft shops. Alternatively, make artificial garlands. Going door to door with samples is the most effective way to sell your creations, and you could also get them stocked in shops.
6. Make Christmas Tree Decorations and Ornaments
If you are artistically inclined, a kitchen table business making Christmas tree decorations and ornaments is the obvious opportunity. They can be constructed out of practically any materials - old, new, natural or artificial - using whatever you can lay your hands on. Library craft books will give you directions on what to make and how to make it. Display and sell your goods at flea markets, get them stocked by retailers, and/or sell them door to door. It is worth attempting to build up publicity and create a name for yourself. As well as advertising in the local paper send out samples and press releases. Established artists invariably command colossal prices for their products.
7. Christmas Crèche
As anyone who has ever tried it will tell you, Christmas shopping with children in tow is not a pleasurable experience. So setting up a crèche is likely to be popular with parents who can drop their kids off while they do the shopping. A disused retail unit or a roped off and covered corner of a shopping centre makes the ideal site.
Charge several pounds per child per hour, and provide plenty of activities, games, toys and drawing materials to keep the kids amused. This is an opportunity for someone with experience and good references and a few helpers, but it is a good earner. You will need to enlist the approval and/or assistance of the shopping centre management and local council before you set up.
8. Festive Food Stall
Why not keep shoppers warm, happy and well fed with a food stall? As well as hot drinks you could sell hot chestnuts (roasting on an open fire), baked potatoes, mince pies, mulled wine (wine with spices and fruit juice added, and heated up) and other festive fayre. You may need to apply to the local council and/or market manager for a pitch. Classified ads are a good place to find bargain second-hand mobile catering units with cooking apparatus, or you could try contacting the Mobile and Outside Caterers Association (Tel: 0121 693 7000) regarding franchises.
9. Holiday Hamper Delivery
Feeding a family over the holiday period requires buying in a pretty hefty amount of food. Save people the bother by putting together and delivering Christmas hampers containing all your customer's food related requirements - turkey, vegetables, sauces, cheeses. Christmas cake and pudding, wine, beer and spirits, chocolates and other assorted treats. By sourcing cheap wholesalers and farm shops you can get cheap deals on the produce you buy. Savings could be passed on to customers - which will be an excellent selling point - or used to increase your profit margin. When setting prices, look to make a profit margin of at least 50% to 100% per hamper. So a hamper that costs you £50 to supply is sold for £75-£100, or perhaps more if you are supplying gourmet goods.
On the subject of food, not everyone has enough space in their freezer to store their Christmas goodies, so you could make some cash on the side by renting out space in your freezer. Market this service by distributing leaflets door to door, by placing postcards/posters in shop windows, advertising in the local paper, or even by paying to have leaflets inserted into delivered newspapers.
10. Christmas Catering Service
As all mums know, preparing the Christmas dinner is a time consuming and tiring process. So there is substantial demand for a service delivering meals ready cooked straight to the customer's door. By taking orders beforehand you can organise a cooking and delivery schedule so that you still get time to sit down and enjoy your own Christmas dinner. You could go one step further and offer a full catering service in the customer's home, saving them the task not only of preparing and cooking the meal, but also of laying the table, clearing it up afterwards and doing the washing up.
Consider how much it might cost for a family to have Christmas dinner in a decent restaurant and set your charges at a comparable rate. Even after you have bought the ingredients and covered other expenses you could walk away with a couple of hundred pounds profit from just a few hours work. This business is best promoted with the use of leaflets, postcards and local newspaper ads. While the full catering service is suited mainly to affluent customers, the cooking and delivery only service will be a success in any area.
11. Drinks Delivery Service
Many people use Christmas as an excuse to stock up their drinks cupboards, before emptying them again very quickly. So there are good profits in providing a drinks delivery service. Stock could be bought from the local cash and carry, or you could even pop over the Channel and visit a Calais booze supermarket (of course, you can only bring enough stock back for your own personal use). Use leaflets to promote your service - put your telephone number on so that customers can phone in their orders.
12. Yuletide Recipe Booklets
Here's a delightful little earner: collect up home-made festive recipes - turkey dinner stuffing, Christmas pudding, brandy butter, and all the classics, as well as more obscure local recipes - and turn them into a spiral bound booklet. They will be inexpensive to produce, requiring only basic printing and binding, and will surely sell well. Get them stocked by stationery, gift and book stores, and/or sell them at bazaars and boot sales. This might make a good charity fund-raiser.
13. Christmas Tree Delivery Service
Over six million Christmas trees are sold every year in the UK alone. So cash in by offering the public the convenience of having a tree delivered to the door - you can even charge to remove it after the holiday for an additional fee. Farms and nurseries are the best places to get trees from. Advertise this with newspaper ads, leaflets, roadside signs and any other methods you can think of. When customers place orders do not forget to find out the size and variety of tree they want.
14. Sell Christmas Decorations
One product line guaranteed to be selling well in late November through December is Christmas decorations - baubles, tinsel, plastic trees, lights, garlands and so on. So earn some invaluable extra cash by getting hold of cheap stock and selling it door to door. Teatime and early evening is the best time to get out there.
15. Set up a Market Stall
A tried and tested way of cleaning up at Christmas is simply to buy as much of the current 'in product' as you can, set up a market stall and off load your stock fast. In 1997 retailers made a mint from Teletubbies and Tamagotchi (computerised virtual pet) toys. Barney, Spice Girls, Action Man and Barbie products, etc. were all popular in their time. Then it was Harry Potter; what is it now? You will need to purchase your stock quickly though - retailers run out of popular demand material very soon, and then any extra change hands for up to ten times their recommended price. Consider other lines too - decorations, cards, wrapping paper, crackers, calendars and stocking fillers all sell well and carry healthy profit margins.
For suppliers, try your local cash and carry, or contact wholesalers such as: (details may have changed)
Gem Discounts - Tel: 01244 546920
Lanway Trading - Tel: 0161 203 5666
World Stock Corporation - Tel: 0121 552 5522
Romford Cash and Carry - Tel: 01708 754798.
16. Open a Christmas Clearance Store
To carry the idea even further, you can generate immense profits by leasing a disused shop for a few weeks and setting up a Christmas clearance store. Again, stock the current 'in' products, as well as anything and everything that relates to Christmas. Aim to clear everything by Christmas Eve (though you can always sell off stocks cheaply in the post Christmas sales). Low overheads and fast profits are the name of the game here.
17. Make and Sell Christmas Gift Packs
Gift packs are an ingenious and potentially lucrative product that will be a big seller in the run up to Christmas. The concept is simple. Put together a range of inexpensive goods that will suit Mums (make up, perfume, apron, skin cream, hairbrush, etc.). Dads (handkerchiefs, comb, driving gloves, gardening gloves, etc.), and kids (games and stocking filler toys), under the banner "Mum's Gift Pack", "Dad's Gift Pack" and so on. You could do the same for Grandmas, Granddads, Uncles and Aunties too. Package the items together (a basic cellophane covered cardboard box or basket will do, plus a sticker to identify it) and get them stocked in shops. A pack retailing at £4.99 might contain goods that cost £1, purchased in bulk from a wholesaler, so the potential profitability is enormous. The concept is a winner because it removes the difficulty of selecting presents for someone.
18. Personalised Gift Wrapping Service
This is an enterprise that will be inundated with customers in any shopping centre. Set up a stall offering to wrap up people's purchases so they can take their presents home ready wrapped. It is a fantastic labour saver for worn out shoppers. Charge a set rate per present (say £1) which will more than cover the cost of materials. If setting up a stall outside shops is impractical, ask retailers if you can use a small area of their shop for a minimal fee. Do not forget to put up signs to attract attention. This could be another effective fund-raiser for charities.
19. Set up a Santa's Grotto
There is nothing kids like more at Christmas than visiting Santa's Grotto. So construct one, creating a magical enclosed space for Santa to sit in. This will be popular at any shopping centre, car boot or jumble sale, Christmas fayre and so on. Charge each child £1 or £2 to enter, for which they get to meet Santa Claus and take a present from the lucky dip barrel. Your costs will be minimal. Stocking filler toys do not cost much, and even allowing for Santa's wages you can pull in a few hundred pounds profit for one day's work. An important task is finding your Father Christmas. Ideal candidates will be male, fairly old and plump, with a big white fluffy beard, twinkling eyes and a cheery laugh.
20. Holiday Odd Job Service
You could set yourself up as the first port of call for a number of the services mentioned in this article. Put together a flyer listing the services you provide and head it with something like, "Let us take care of all your Christmas needs". If you are too busy to take care of a customer's requirements yourself, then offer the job to a friend or a local shop/supplier - not forgetting to charge them a fee or commission for supplying the sales lead.