Welcome to October’s series on 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas. In this series, I’m highlighting simple and legitimate ways you can earn extra cash in the next two months for those of you who could use a little extra cash to help you pay for Christmas — or just for your living expenses if you’re in a tight spot right now.
If you’ve found a great way to make extra cash before Christmas that doesn’t require an outlay of cash upfront, please email me your tip. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!
Guest post from Davonne of DavonneParks.com
We’ve all seen the classic lemonade stand, but something a little more unique is an Autumn Food Stand, complete with hot chocolate, cider, and freshly baked goodies. My daughters and I have had these together and we’ve learned a lot of ways to make it successful.
1. Use what you have.
There’s no need to spend money on tables, signs, and food. Just look around your house and see what you can “borrow” for the stand.
We put our for-sale items in baskets or on dinner plates, and we’ll cover our table with a party tablecloth that’s left over from a previous event. The items we sell vary depending on what we have on hand.
A brownie mix in the pantry means we’ll sell fresh baked brownies. Frozen or refrigerated cookie dough can be popped into the oven as well.
2. Keep it simple.
We’ve made our own hot chocolate mix and baked brownies from scratch for previous food stands and while our customers loved that, it didn’t increase sales, so the extra prep time involved actually cut our profit-per-hour in half.
3. Make your stand cute.
Having a colored tablecloth and a sign hanging in the front of the stand are good. Balloons or little pumpkins on or around the table are great. Coming up with a cute name for the stand is a fun touch.
4. Clearly list prices on the sign.
People in our area won’t pay more than $1 per item. Items priced at $0.50 or less sell even better.
5. Enlist your children’s help.
My daughters sell much more than I can. When they step away from the table, people drive right by even if I’m holding my daughters’ spots for them.
We attract sales when they’re at the table and ready to sell. I keep my kids in their seats by bringing coloring books and crayons outside, offering complimentary cookies when they start to look tired, and singing songs with them when the sales are slow.
If you don’t have children, borrow a friend’s child, make an afternoon of it, and share the profits!
6. Location, location… location?
We live on a quiet street, and I decided that we could easily double our profits if we had a busier location to sell. I found a spot, received permission, lugged our gear over, and…. watched the cars whiz by (in a 35mph zone).
We ended up making less per hour than we make when we set our stand up in front of our house.
7. Pay attention to the weather.
Hot chocolate and hot tea don’t sell well when it’s 85 degrees outside. Nothing sells when it’s raining.
8. Choose good hours.
On weekdays, we’ve found that we make the most money from 4 to 6 p.m. Sales on Saturdays tend to trickle in all day.
9. Be sanitary.
This probably goes without saying, but keep your kitchen and hands clean while making the food. Wrap everything in advance by placing individual items in plastic wrap or placing two goodies into each snack bag.
Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on the food stand table, and let the customers see you wash your hands before touching food or drinks.
10. Provide large servings.
We make more sales when we sell large cups of lemonade or hot chocolate for $0.50 than we do when we sell small cups for $0.25. We also sell cookies better when we put two in a baggie for $0.50 than when we wrap them individually for a quarter.
11. Offer a “deal”.
When we offer half priced refills on drinks, most people will drink two cups. We always offer a buy-four-get-one (or two!) free deal. People generally take us up on that offer, and then leave a tip.
We don’t advertise for these sales. We just set up when we’re ready and let the cars stop when they see us.
I can plan on making about $10 per hour when we have a food stand. We spend about an hour of prep time, two hours actually hosting the stand, and just a few minutes putting things away when we’re finished. After we subtract supply costs, we usually end up with $30 or so in profit.
Note from Crystal: Some areas have strict laws concerning selling food. Before setting up a food stand, please check local ordinances to make sure it is allowed in your area.
Have you ever had a food stand before? If so, I’d love to hear your tips, ideas, and suggestions.
Davonne Parks is an author who is passionate about striving to make the most of her time, using her talents for good, and inspiring others to do the same. She blogs at DavonneParks.com and she just released her first eBook, 28 Days to Timeliness: Tips and Confessions from a Semi-Reformed Late Person.