These women have found fun ways to rake in extra money during the season’s joyous festivities. Read on for their secrets so you can cash in too!
“I bring in $40,000 making balloon decorations!”
“I was working as an office manager, but I always wanted to do something more creative. Then one year, the fire department where my husband is chief asked me to decorate the space with balloons for their holiday party. I had no idea what I was doing, but after watching some YouTube videos, I pulled it off. Soon, family and friends were asking me to make balloon decorations for their parties and it became my part-time gig. Then two years ago, when my office job was eliminated, I decided to turn it into a full-time career.
“To learn as much as I could about growing my business, I signed up with a balloon business coach and attended a convention for balloon decoration business owners. Then I converted my garage into a studio, created a website and Facebook business page and posted photos of my creations on Instagram.
“I make classic balloon decor, arches and centerpieces, but the biggest hit at parties is balloon pops — huge balloons that, when you pop, little balloons fall out. Business really booms around the holidays; I decorate winter dances for schools and corporate holiday and New Year’s Eve parties. Some parents even hire me to put their Elf on a Shelf inside clear balloons to gift to their kids.
“I love this business because I can walk into an empty room and when I leave, it’s a party! The magic of balloons resonates with people of all ages and makes everyone smile. This year, I’m on track to make $40,000 — money that pays the bills, goes back into the business and allows me to take vacations with my family.” — Amanda Johnson, 53, Syosset, NY
“I make up to $20,000 over the holidays selling handwritten cards.”
“Two days before a friend’s birthday, I had wanted to send a handwritten, hand-drawn card. But with little time to get it done, I instead went searching for one in stores, and all I could find were generic, computer printed cards with no personalization. I realized there were probably people like me, who liked the novelty of sending customized cards, but were too busy to do it themselves, so I decided to do it for them. I launched Sent-Well, a site that offers custom cards — you choose the design, I handwrite the message, address the envelope and then mail out the card.
“To get the business off the ground, I attended stationery shows and markets to find local designers who have a hand-design process for their artwork to make some of the cards, and I wrote all of the messages by hand. I started out creating cards for friends, and from there, word about my business spread.
“Now I sell cards for all occasions and holidays and have branched out to making invitations for corporate events, charity events, and private parties. Some cards and invitations are pre-made, while others are customized with the client’s colors or branding. My favorite part? I have great penmanship, but many of my male customers ask me to write with my left hand so it looks like the cards came from them! Others ask me to add photos of their kids or pets and I can add holiday gifts from pop out ornaments to confetti.
“I charge between $2 and $4 a card, which includes postage. This time of year, I can make up to $20,000 —money that goes back into the business and pays for things like home improvements!” — Nicole Vonderheide, 49, Morristown, NJ
“I earn $30 an hour taking the stress out of parties.”
“A few years ago, I was planning a party in my home, and I needed help with serving cocktails and food and cleaning up, but I couldn’t find any type of service like that in my area. Since I had always loved to throw parties, I figured I could fill that need for others! And that’s when I decided to start my own business, Helping Hand Parties and Weddings.
“First, I took a small business course through my local women’s business center and read everything I could. Then, I created a website and the business grew from referrals.
“When I meet with a new client, I set up a free consultation and we talk about what they need. We can help set-up and clean-up, greet and direct guests, pass hors d’oeuvres, serve meals, keep the buffets stocked, make coffee and ensure the bathrooms are kept clean. Sometimes we manage the entire party including hiring vendors like the caterer, music and entertainment and supplying decorations. I oversee all the parties but I have another coordinator who works with me and a list of 50 people I can call to help out as needed.
“I make $30 an hour, and I work between 20 to 40 hours a week — I use those earnings to pay for vacations as well as to donate to charity. Parties are always fun and happy, especially at this time of year when we’re helping with home, office and corporate celebrations. I love that I can make holiday events stress-free for the hosts!” — Erica Thimsen, 54, Huntsville, AL
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.