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Posted by on Dec 10, 2012 in Guest Posts | 0 comments

How to Score Post-Holiday Sales

Not just on clearance Christmas wrap, either. Clean up on everything from paper napkins to wedding gifts.

Two things you can count on at the post-holiday sales:

1) Deals (always excellent ones).
2) Crowds (sometimes scary ones).

You won’t get one without the other. Totally worth braving the crowds, though, because there’s more to these sales than super-cheap Christmas ornaments. You can score great deals on things to use all year long: clothing, gift items, paper goods, storage bins, bakeware, candles, dishes and linens.

Sure, some of it’s holiday-themed. But who cares whether the paper towels have reindeer on them? They still soak up spills.

Leverage these sale prices to stock up on clothing and housewares, build a gift closet and, yes, snare great deals on next year’s gift tags and bows. Don’t leave money on the (clearance) table!

Start by determining how much you can afford to spend. Take only that amount in cash and leave the plastic at home. But if you got gift cards for Christmas, feel free to bring those.

If possible, shop with a buddy. A good friend will talk you down from wanting to buy purple wrapping paper printed with tap-dancing reindeer. (There’s a reason it’s only 50 cents a roll.)

Look beyond holiday motifs

Certain solid-color papers – white, blue, silver, gold, red – work for non-Christmas gifts. Read the fine print on the wrapper, though: Some rolls hold as little as 12 square feet and others three times that amount.

Solid-color cloth napkins and tablecloths can be used year-round, too. So can votive or taper candles, especially the white ones. And do you really care whether your potholders or dishtowels have holly on them, as long as they do what they’re supposed to do?

As for the concept of “Christmas pajamas” – well, come Dec. 26 the stores can’t unload them fast enough. Either buy them a size up for next year, or buy them right now to keep you and your family warm until spring. Ditto those snowflake-printed fleece pants and tops.

Remember that merchants are dumping a lot of winter clothing at this time of year, to make room for springtime fashions. Replenish stuff your kids have outgrown in the past couple of months, or buy a size up for next fall.

Some of those clothes will have holiday themes, but that’s OK – just pull it out next November. Of course, your 2-year-old might be delighted to wear a “Frosty the Snowman” sweatshirt right now.

Think “gift closet”

Stores bring in a lot of gift items for the holidays: gloves, wallets, picture frames, slippers, hat-and-scarf sets, “executive gifts” like business-card holders and day minders. Some make good year-round presents; others can be held until next Christmas.

Games, toys and stuffed animals can be bought not just for next year’s holiday but for a year’s worth of family birthdays – and a year’s worth of birthday parties, too. (Show of hands: Ever found yourself buying a gift on the way to the party? Now you won’t have to.)

Check out specialty food baskets and spa sets, too. That shower gel/loofah/lotion set would be just the thing for a birthday in January: Who couldn’t use a little pampering then? A tea-and-coffee sampler or a selection of barbecue sauces and rubs would make a nice present, too, although I wouldn’t hold on to food-related items for more than a few months.

Another good January gift: a calendar that features the recipient’s favorite obsession, whether that’s kittens or zombies. Calendars go on sale right after the holiday and the discounts get deeper each week.

Don’t forget that Valentine’s Day is waiting in the wings. Gift sets, jewelry, picture frames or stuffed animals all go over well on that day. So do red-foil-wrapped Hershey’s Kisses from the holiday chocolate bag. Freeze the green-wrapped Kisses (and other types of candies, now discounted by 50% or more) to add to bag lunches. Or chop them  coarsely and mix into brownie or cookie dough, or use for homemade McFlurries.

Where to keep this post-holiday haul? In the red or green storage bins that also get remaindered starting on Dec. 26. Again: Who cares what color they are? They’re in the attic, or the garage, or the crawlspace.

Keep these tips in mind

If you don’t need it, it’s not a bargain. Do you already have enough wrapping paper to cover the outside of your house, and so many ornaments that your tree tipped over? Resist buying more, no matter how low the price.

Bring something to eat. A protein bar or a small bag of trail mix takes up very little room in a purse or pocket, and will prevent a mid-morning bout of shopper’s lassitude.

Check return policies. Chances are these sales are final.

Start an ornament collection. Buy one or two deeply discounted ones for your children each year. When they get their own places they’ll have enough to decorate their own trees.

Know what things normally cost. Some stores price their gifts so high that 50% off isn’t really that good a deal.

Don’t buy a size down. Purchasing clothes a size too small based on your New Year’s resolution to lose weight. That rarely works.

Don’t buy those doggie reindeer antlers, either. All the other dogs will make fun of them.

Guest blogger Donna Freedman is a DealPro and founder of Surviving and Thriving, a website helping others learn how to live mindfully; using available funds in the smartest possible way.

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