Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? Well, no, actually, I am concentrating on the echo of my final few pennies clattering out of my now-empty-yet-once-bountiful bank account.
You see, it is nearly Christmas, and nothing rivals Christmas for draining you of cash.
According to the government’s Money Advice Service, more than one in 10 Britons that took on debts to fund Christmas 2011 are still paying off their loans before they’ve even started on this year’s spending spree.
It adds that more than one in four of us admit we often get ‘carried away’ and spend more than we can afford at Christmas, a tendency that will help total spending this year top £29bn.
Christmas, then, is fast becoming nothing but a way of losing money and ensuring you stay destitute for the next 11 months.
Yet, it does not have to be that way. Christmas brings a bonanza of money-making opportunities not present at any other time of the year and so rather than debt-causing, the Yuletide period could actually see you make money.
We thought we’d point you in the right direction. Here are our Top 10 Christmas Money Making Crackers.
1. Get A Temporary Job
Jobsite.co.uk says that there has been a 45% increase in Christmas jobs (typically running from October to early January) posted this year compared to last year.
The Royal Mail is one of the biggest Christmas recruiters, adding 18,000 people to its staff nationally. These jobs generally run from November for 12 weeks.
Plenty of smaller companies want extra workers too, though. Harlequin LLC is the printer behind the millions of photobooks that will be ordered from Tesco, Boots, Truprint and Snapfish this year. Julian Marsh, business development consultant at the company, says Harrier takes on 200 extra staff for simple duties at its Devon factory. “We pay well and they may all get a small gift or token payment at the end of a successful peak period too,” says Marsh.
Bars and restaurants will also be heavily recruiting now and right up to Christmas. To take advantage, check local job centres and newspaper ads and also job websites. It is also worth just dropping in and asking at many of the smaller companies, especially bars and restaurants.
2. Become A Christmas Tree Entrepreneur
There’s seemingly not a lay-by or car park without an impromptu Christmas tree salesman courting your business – and every single one of them seems to be doing a roaring trade.
Jonny Anstead, owner of The Local Christmas Tree Company , can offer you a way in. His successful tree-selling business is looking for partners across the UK to set up as franchisees.
“We provide a full e-commerce website to franchisees as well as contacts to buy the trees,” says Anstead. “Their job is to market and to deliver the trees.”
He says that, though there are of course risks, the work can be very well paid. He explains that you make your profit from the final 30% of trees sold and “if you get it right, you could find that the margin is around £15 per tree”.
3. Take On The Role Of Santa
Have you always pictured yourself in red stockings sporting a white, fluffy beard? Then being a Christmas Santa could be just the role for you.
The majority of these supermarket and shopping centre positions are supplied by casting agencies so signing up with your local talent spotters is a good start.
But you can go independent, like the Santa behind Rent-A-Santa. This particular Santa says he doesn’t want to reveal too many secrets, or his true identity, but does say that you need a full CRB check and Public Liability insurance. “It's a job that requires a proper performance and is not a case of buying a cheap outfit and thinking anyone can do it,” he adds.
4. Recycle Your Christmas Rubbish
It’s a little known fact that companies will pay you to process your recycling, so the mountains of waste paper and cardboard that amass in the Christmas period could be a money earner.
The key thing, though, is volume – to make any money you’d have to go and collect a few streets’ worth of waste paper, so get knocking on doors.
Avoid wrapping paper as this is too thin for recyclers to handle and also leave behind any cards with glitter or other adornments on them. But cardboard boxes and plain Christmas cards are perfectly recyclable.
One bit of advice from those in the industry is to always ensure you have a buyer lined up before you go collecting…
5. Utilise Cashback And Rewards Based Credit Cards
Used sensibly, credit cards can not only help you manage Christmas spending but also earn you cash and rewards.
Clearly, you need to spend a lot to gain a lot – as you get your rewards and cash as a proportion of or related to outgoings - but this is Christmas, spending a lot is not going to be a problem.
With some rates at 5% for the first three months, timing your sign up for early October and sticking your present buying on credit (providing you pay the card off promptly) has the potential to be a real money spinner. For heaven’s sake, don’t spend more than you can afford to pay off – the moment you fall behind on your payment is the moment that these sort of cards tend to cease being worth it.
6. Go Carol Singing
It’s an oldie, but a goody. Carol singing is even older than Bruce Forsythe and has more good will attached to it than a David Attenborough documentary. Even the worst singers – the likes you get on X-Factor – can make a pretty penny by trudging the streets.
7. Take A Stall At A Christmas Craft Fair
At this time of year, the Christmas Craft Fairs are seemingly ubiquitous. Take a stroll around and you will see that much of what is on offer is homemade and rather expensive.
Hence, if you are of an artistic bent and a dab hand with super glue, then taking a stall at a Christmas Craft Fair to sell your wares may be a route to riches (provided you make the cost of renting the stall pay – which, with stalls costing as much as £1,100, is not a foregone conclusion).
8. Sell Unwanted Presents Online
It may seem callous or ungrateful, but pawning your presents online is a sure-fire way of generating some readies. And you won’t be alone. eBay says that 1.4m new items are expected to be listed on its website on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Research it conducted last year found that 12% of the UK populace will ‘re-home’ unwanted gifts by selling them, with 5% of those doing so as early as on Christmas morning itself.
9. Breed you own Turkey
Ok, so this is probably one for those with a decent amount of space, but breeding your own turkey rather than buying one can save you a princely sum. It’s clearly more complicated than you might think, but this website gives you an easy to understand guide http://www.heritageturkeys.co.uk/information/christmas-lunch.aspx.
The notes on the dispatch of the turkey and then its prep are probably going to put some off, but if you have a strong stomach for the realities of life, then why not give it a try next year.
If you are even more ambitious and want to breed Turkeys to sell, then you will need to contact your local authority for information on rules and regulations determining the sale of food produce.
10. Make your own mulled wine
Christmas falls in winter, in case you had not noticed, and so a nice warming glass of mulled wine is a very popular impulse – and often high margin - purchase.
If you want to sell the proper stuff, you’ll be needing a temporary alcohol licence and to submit a temporary event notice (both through the Home Office website) – this costs you money but if you have lots of thirsty people you can make it back easily and make a tidy profit.
The alternative is to make a non-alcoholic version – Delia apparently has a very good recipe you can use – but whether you will find many takers in ‘Booze Britain’ is debateable…