Simple, fun and tasty ways to save money on your Christmas bill.
Make money from your home
Get a lodger
Forget 70s sitcoms. Thanks to the economic climate, taking in a lodger has become fashionable again - and for good reason. Under the government's 'Rent a Room' scheme you can make up to £4,250 a year tax-free from a lodger, so long as you are providing a furnished room.
Of course, sharing your home with someone 24/7 does have its drawbacks and some landlords prefer to rent rooms on a Monday to Friday basis - which fits in well with workers who need a place to stay (usually in the city) during the week. Known as 'fractional renting', there are even websites dedicated to bringing landlords and lodgers together.
Pros: Easy money, which can be entirely tax-free.
Cons: You'll have to share the sofa with somebody else, and they might want to watch The Only Way Is Essex. Can you put a price on that?
Useful links: Monday to Friday, Spareroom
Open a B&B
If you've got more than one spare room - and considerable spare time - you could consider turning your home into a bed and breakfast. Make no mistake, this can be very hard work but it can also enable you to live the lifestyle you want, in the location of your choice.
There are plenty of hoops to jump through regarding health and safety, planning permission, food and insurance - but it's a well-worn path and you'll find lots of advice online. Expect to earn from £25 to £210 per night, if you convert one to three rooms for paying guests.
Pros: Potential to earn good money; you'll meet all sorts of different people.
Cons: Early starts and you might have to give up half your home. Plus you'll meet all sorts of 'different' people.
Useful links: Start a bed and breakfast, Enjoy bed and breakfast
Rent out a parking space
Those living in the city (or close to a commuter railway or tube station) with a spare parking space could make money out of thin air. Certain websites will advertise your space, charging an annual £15 fee which will be refunded if it's not booked within 45 days.
You can expect to earn between £10 and £60 per week - and you'll have to declare the money to the tax man. If you live close to a major sporting venue you might be able to earn more per day, but, of course, only on selected dates.
Pros: Money for next to nothing.
Cons: Demand is higher in some areas than others.
Useful links: Your parking space, Park at my house
Store other people's stuff
If you've got a spare room (or loft space) but don't fancy sharing it with anyone, you can still earn extra cash by storing other people's belongings.
Storemates.co.uk offers to connect people in need of storage space to those with room to spare. It suggests that users undercut the commercial storage company - charging anything from £5 to £36 per week depending on the size of the space involved. Obviously you'll need to clear everything with the insurance company and use your common sense, but it could be an easy earner.
Pros: Low maintenance source of income.
Cons: Less than you'd earn from a lodger and you still lose your spare room.
Useful links: Storemates, Store at my house
Don't fancy a lodger full time? You could offer a homestay. These are often foreign students looking to learn English, and their stay can be arranged with a language school that will pay you directly.
Most colleges ask you to cook the students an evening meal, offer them breakfast foods (to which they help themselves), and provide a 'homely' environment - which means chatting about their day, even if you don't take them down the pub with you. Expect to earn £100-£200 per week.
Pros: Good money; you get to play host to a foreign visitor.
Cons: Irregular work; some adult students need more 'babysitting' than you might imagine.
Useful links: Become a host family, Homestay booking
Mention selling parties and most people think Avon, Ann Summers or Tupperware. While these brands are still going strong, there are lots of other businesses in on the act. The Body Shop, Neal's Yard Remedies and Jamie at Home are just a few of the familiar names which operate home-selling schemes - usually requiring a starter fee in the region of £100 to £400 and the purchase of stock.
How much you can make varies from scheme to scheme and can be commission-based - but a good night might earn you £150 to £200. Of course, your friends may quickly tire of bringing their purses with them every time they come over, so if you're going to make it a regular occurrence you'll either have to visit other people's houses (and cut them in) or get friends to bring their friends too.
Pros: You can make reasonable money if you're good at it; the hours are flexible and it's fun.
Cons: Friends could soon tire of being a 'captive' audience; don't get taken for a ride buying too much stock up front.
Useful links: Avon, Ann Summers, Neal's Yard Remedies