Pick up extra funds for the holidays without wearing an elf costume.
Step 1: Babysit Hire yourself out to babysit while parents tackle the retail jungle or attend adult-only holiday events. Sitters are harder to find during the holidays—especially on New Year's Eve—so increase your rates to compete with the local market.
Step 2: Sell baked goods or crafts Sell your baked goods or crafts. Offer pre-orders to neighbors and coworkers, or sell online. Certain websites will let you sell your crafts for a small listing fee and commission—and can mean big bucks.
TIP: If you're making and selling goods, be sure to check into necessary business permits and tax filings.
Step 3: Be a house helper Your holiday prep may be a snap, but your neighbor may have her hands full. Use your extra time to your advantage, and charge an hourly fee to clean, hang decorations, and assist with other holiday-related chores.
Step 4: Promote clubs Club owners usually need help bringing people in the door—especially for big holiday bashes. Enter club promoters, who help pack the place and generally earn a commission for each head they bring in the door. If you live in or near a city and you love the nightlife, working as a club promoter may be a great fit.
Step 5: House sit Are you trustworthy, reliable, and able to chill out in someone's house while they're on vacation? Work as an independent house sitter, or sign up with an agency. Find out if the homeowners want you to stay in the house full-time, or only visit occasionally.
Step 6: Work as a personal shopper If you've got a knack for picking out great gifts for hard-to-please people, you may do well as a personal shopper. Set up shop on your own—online, by word of mouth, or through the classifieds—or work with a retailer, which may limit the selection of gifts you can suggest. Also, determine whether you'll work by the hour, project, or commission.
Step 7: Apply for seasonal positions If you've got experience in food service or sales, keep your eye out for positions starting in late October. Bars, restaurants, catering companies, banquet halls, event planners, and retail outlets usually hire seasonal help to deal with the holiday rush.
TIP: Beauty salons and shipping companies also hire lots of seasonal help.
Step 8: Be a caroler Many restaurants and holiday destinations bring singers on staff to add a little ambience. Grab a few musical friends, put together a repertoire of Christmas carols, shop yourself around to the highest bidder, and fa-la-la-la-la all the way to the bank!
FACT: In 2006, American stores hired 596,000 additional workers for the holiday season.