Bargains to Buy After the Holidays

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The holiday season is here again, and as soon as the bustle of shopping, gift exchanges, family gatherings and celebrations calms down, a different kind of “season” begins: The post-holiday shopping season. There are quite a few items that go on sale at bargain prices after Christmas and New Year’s. By stocking up on these products when prices are low, I’m able to save quite a bit of money over paying full price. Here are some of the deals I look for around this time of year – and you can, too:
Decorations and cards: The day after Christmas, most stores will put everything related to the holiday on clearance at 50 percent off. As the days and weeks go by, stores typically increase the discount off the original price. I find many of my best deals when décor drops to 75-90 percent off.  If you need lights, ornaments, garland or tinsel, this is a great time to buy them – even artificial Christmas trees will be on sale. This is a good opportunity to buy holiday cards for next year, too. In fact, we just pulled a couple boxes of Christmas cards out of the closet to write out to friends and family this year. We’ll restock again for next year soon!
Party and entertaining supplies: Look for clearance products related to entertaining such as holiday tablecloths, paper plates and cups, napkins and party favors, all of which will be deeply discounted. I have New Year’s Eve horns, hats and beads stashed in the closet that I picked up at 90 percent off this past January, just waiting for this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration.
Giftwrap: I know I’m not alone in this, but I approach my giftwrap selections with a slightly different mindset: I look for giftwrap that isn’t specifically Christmas or holiday related. I look for paper designs that were marketed as holiday giftwrap, of course, but green-and-white striped paper or blue paper with white dots can be used at any time of the year. I also like to look for gift bags that are neutral in design, too, so that they can be used for birthdays and other occasions.
Toys: Think about how many retailers offer a large selection of toys for the holiday season. One of my local hardware store chains even has several aisles of toys right now. However, after the holiday passes, stores want to reclaim their seasonal aisle space for different merchandise. The reality is that the hottest toys of the season will be at their best prices about two to three weeks after Christmas has passed. However, this is a great time to look for clearance toys and buy them at discounts of 30 percent off or more. I like to stock up on toys for my own children’s birthdays, as well as other children in the family.
“Anytime” gifts:  Over the years, I’ve noticed there are entire gift categories that appear in stores before Christmastime, and then the same items go on sale at deep discounts as soon as the holidays end. Look for gift sets of winter outerwear, pajamas and gift packs of flavored coffees, bath soaps and gels. I like to pick up these items for hostess-type gifts or for my family’s use – but I buy after the holiday to save more money.
Surprising post-holiday bargains: Flannel sheets, winter coats and snow pants tend to go on sale in mid to late January, too. Despite the fact that there’s still plenty of snow on the ground in Chicagoland, where I live, these items go on sale to make room for the next season’s inventory. Last year, I bought a new winter coat for my son for $12 in late January. While I was shopping, the same store was busy setting up a display of swim trunks and bikinis!