5 seasonal side hustles that will pay for your gifts and then some

A large percentage of people wait till the last few days before Christmas to buy their gifts.

Santa Claus may be able to work just one day a year, but other gift givers may need extra side hustles to pay for the holidays. Even the bah-humbug types need holiday funds to escape to Florida or Europe instead of going home. And those who celebrate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or don't observe secular or religious holidays, may still need to make up for time off at hourly jobs. Joyously, there are lots of great ways to earn extra cash just as the holiday expenses are ramping up.

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You probably aren't going to be able to use a side hustle to fund a new car in the driveway Christmas morning. But you can make enough money working an extra, part-time gig to pay for a few office lunches or a live tree this year. One warning, though. Unlike visiting mom at the last minute or putting off buying presents until stuff goes on sale Dec. 26, seasonal side hustles require planning that begins in October or early November. Here are five ideas to get you started:

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Sell holiday Printables on Etsy. This home-based holiday side hustle idea comes from the Believe In a Budget blog. "You don't need any experience to design printables that you can sell with your very own Etsy shop," notes Pinterest market expert Kristin Larsen "Etsy Printables will help you learn how to make over 55 ideas, such as checklists, gift tags, and invitations."

Take Santa photos

Photography is a time-honored side hustle and the holidays are a great time to get out the digital camera and make some cash. You don't have to be a world-class photographer, just willing to set up sessions for photos people can frame to give to their relatives or send with their Christmas cards. Get clients through social media and be sure to charge a very reasonable fee until you've made a few clients happy.

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Pet sitting

Getting involved with the pet-sitting service Rover is always a top side hustle, but pet sitting and dog walking can be particularly profitable during the holidays. "It's not that difficult to make money with Rover dog sitting," noted the frugal blog Dollar Sprout. "Pet sitters and walkers typically charge between $20-$40 per night and $20-$30 per walk, taking home 80% while Rover collects a 20% service fee. Rover holds your earnings until the services are complete. You can then redeem payment fee-free via PayPal or by mailed check for a $2 fee."

You'll make your best Rover money if you're able to board pets at your home, so consider getting that lined up before peak pet boarding demand for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Even if you can't keep the animals at your own house, you can try a holiday side hustle of taking care of dogs, cats, reptiles and other pets at other people's places.

Write back from Santa

This isn't going to make you millions, but it will score enough income to subsidize some cute gifts or a little black dress for a New Year's Eve party. According to the Penny Hoarder, one woman made $300 at Christmas replying to letters to Santa, and you can, too.

Here's Julie Engelhardt's readily duplicated method: She gets customers from word of mouth and through Facebook, charging about $10 per letter. "Engelhardt sends the parents a list of roughly 20 questions about their child, their family and their pets," Penny Hoarder said. "She asks about activities the child is involved in, if the family took any vacations during the year, the child's favorite subject in school and their favorite movies and books." She also sends the personalized letters in a sack to North Pole, Alaska, to get a postmark that makes a kid's day.

Get hired as a seasonal employee

Atlanta-area businesses from caterers to Target to amusement parks hire extra help for the holidays. Just remember you'll need to have weekends free in most cases.