Want to earn a few extra bucks for the holidays?
Now is the time to secure that seasonal job, with thousands of job openings available in this region.
Several stores in Northwest Indiana have begun advertising for seasonal, temporary workers, as the National Retail Federation predicts a slight increase in expected sales this holiday season over last year.
Seasonal work doesn't automatically mean working at the mall, however.
There are several opportunities out there for those looking for a little extra cash, or even a chance to get a foot in the door at a local company.
With shoppers ready to snatch up the best deals and most memorable Christmas presents, retailers have begun taking applications for seasonal help.
Lauren Rapisand, media relations manager for Macy's North and Midwest regions, said the retail giant plans to hire 83,000 seasonal associates this year - about 1,200 of which are at locations in Northwest Indiana and the south suburbs of Chicago, including Orland Square, Fox Valley and Spring Hill.
Seasonal associate positions such as the ones open at Macy's vary - from serving customers on the floor to interacting with customers over the phone in call centers and staffing the distribution centers that fill orders and coordinate shipments.
After a customer clicks on the "add to cart" and "checkout" buttons online, those presents don't walk themselves to people's front doors.
With an expected upswing in online shopping over the holiday season, shipping companies often add staff to accommodate the increase in boxes that come through their doors.
Natalie Black, public relations manager with UPS, said though the company has not announced how many seasonal employees it will hire this year, last year at this time, UPS had plans to fill about 2,000 seasonal hires in the Chicago-Gary-Kenosha region.
"Typically, seasonal hire positions are drivers, driver helpers and package handlers," she said. "Driver helpers are people who might help a driver make the deliveries on their route, and package handlers are people who might sort, load or unload packages."
The vast majority of seasonal hires at UPS are part-time - perfect for someone who has another job or for someone who wants to temporarily return to the workforce.
However, Black said after Dec. 31, holiday employees have an opportunity to apply for permanent positions.
"Permanent part-time employees are eligible for a wide range of desirable benefits that can include healthcare and retirement plans, as well as the opportunity to potentially move into full-time career positions," she said.
Your own business
The holiday season presents the perfect opportunity to create your own business - taking advantage of lousy weather and travel habits of many during these winter months.
For example, self-starter work can include anything from snow cleanup to house sitting, light hanging and decorating, and dog sitting.
Play an instrument or sing? Offer your services at local Christmas parties.
While some businesses will pay seasonal help to offer gift wrapping services, some family members or friends will pay as well for the service.
If you're handy with a camera, many families will pay for that perfect greeting card shot as well.
Check with local tree farms to see if seasonal help is needed. Jobs can include cutting, cleaning and tying trees for customers.
Some hotels and restaurants also hire seasonal help in anticipation of the holiday rush.
And don't forget the most famous seasonal job. If you look great in a red suit, many retailers are looking for the perfect Santa.