10 ways to make money in the Christmas business

This is the time of year when some start thinking about how they can make money getting into the Christmas business. It’s got to be easy, right?

Christmas expenditures are over $465,000,000,000 (that’s 465 billion dollars) per year according to market studies. It includes decorations, gifts, food, and about anything Christmas related you can think of. No matter how you look at Christmas, there’s a huge amount of money being spent.

Rather than spending money during the holidays, it might make sense to consider taking advantage of the season and making money.

The good news is there are plenty of Christmas related opportunities around for you to. The not-so-good news is while most people are taking time off to enjoy the holidays, you’re working really long hours seven days a week.

Is getting into the Christmas business worth it?  Maybe. If you view Christmas as the time of year to rest and enjoy being with family, then stay the course. If you have a passion for the holidays and love putting smiles on faces, then get creative and figure out a way to tap into that $465B juggernaut.

Since January of this year we have been interviewing just about anyone already in the Christmas business. We start with one simple question: is their opportunity for others to enjoy success?  I’m amazed how eager people in the business are to share their experiences. Most said it’s really hard work but very profitable. We soon realized we were only talking to the successful businesses. After some digging we found some closed shops that hadn’t been so fortunate. They quickly shared getting into the business is a fool’s errand and you’re destined for failure.

What are your odds of starting a Christmas business and being successful?  With most businesses there’s a one in twelve chance you’ll still be around in five years. That’s not exactly encouraging. What sold great last year might be the worst product ever this year. You can lose a lot of money hoping-upon-hope the next big deal will save the company. We all read about the super-successful entrepreneurs but you don’t see too many stories about the majority that were only semi-successful or had a total flame-out and failed spectacularly. The bottom line is it’s tough out there.

But, a Christmas business is a little different than a normal business. It’s feast or famine. They make money hand-over-fist the last quarter of the year but it’s really hard to sell Christmas stuff in March. Many build multi-line businesses realizing Christmas is a seasonal opportunity. These companies do something non-Christmas related the rest of the year to keep cashflow positive. Others take advantage of the seasonal nature and retire the first half of the year knowing they’ll start ramping up again in July.

The PlanetChristmas staff slogged through all of our interview notes and came up with 10 ways others have been successful and make money in the Christmas business. In reality, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to opportunities. These are in no particular order, other than how they ended up on the whiteboard in our conference room.

  1. Outdoor Decorating
  2. Indoor Decorating
  3. Mall Christmas Store
  4. Pop-Up Christmas Store
  5. Portable Over-The-Top Christmas Displays
  6. Christmas Light Tours
  7. Light Show Guru/Sequencer
  8. HOA (Home Owners Association) Decorator
  9. Drive Through Light Park
  10. On-Call Santa

Some of these might total sense. Other, maybe not-so-much until you understand the market. Let’s dig a little deeper into each.

Want to see more?  See an expanded version of this story in the September 2014 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.

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