If you're willing to brave the crowds, consider shopping the after-Christmas bargains this week and next. There are lots of great finds! The main stores I shop for after-Christmas bargains are Target, CVS, and Walgreens, but it's worth keeping an eye on favorite online stores too. Right away, you'll see prices down by 50%, and over the next week, that will increase to 70% or 90% off savings. When you're shopping in-store, be sure and use the price scanner to double-check the price of items–you may be surprised that they're already marked down even lower than they're marked. Here are my five top categories for shopping the clearance aisles.
Food & Miscellaneous
At Target particularly, look for holiday-shaped foods and packaging marked down for big savings. You'll find Christmas tree pretzels, snowflake-shaped crackers, and other snack foods included in the Christmas clearance sale. I've been able to use manufacturer coupons along with the sale prices. Another great buy: Ziploc containers, paper towels and household products with holiday prints, all at clearance prices.
Check out Target, Old Navy and Children’s Place (both in-store and online) for cute holiday clothes in next year’s sizes. Often you can pick up themed shirts and leggings for $2-4.00 as opposed to the $8-15 price you’ll pay next December. Need an ugly sweater for next year's party? Now's the time to buy! I like to pick up holiday-themed socks to put in my girls' stockings the next year. Also look for holiday pajamas, bibs, and other clothing that would make great gifts next year.
Greeting & Thank You Cards
If this year's card stressed you out, plan ahead by picking up holiday cards now for 75% off, then printing 4×6 family photos with a free/low-cost photo deal next November or December. That can be a lot less expensive than having cards printed. I like to pick up inexpensive holiday cards to participate in Holiday Mail for Heroes. You may even find thank you cards on sale in holiday themes or those that can be used year-round.
Look for solid colors that you can use for birthdays throughout the year, not just holiday prints for next year. Attending a wedding in 2014? The silver, gold and white packaging may work for you. My target price is .25-.50 per roll. I've even seen great clearance sales at Hallmark Stores for very high-quality wrapping paper.
Gifts & Toys
Take a look at the toy clearance aisles for any kid birthdays happening in the first months of 2014, since stores now need to reduce the inventory they stocked up on for the holiday season. Amazon will participate in toy clearance as well. I like to pick up little gifts that will go to teachers and friends next season–holiday cookie cutters, kitchen towels, and other holiday-printed products. Since I buy similar stocking stuffers each year, now's a good time to pick up holiday puzzle books, coloring books, and other items that can sit in storage. At drugstores like CVS/Walgreens, look on the top of shelves for gift-packaged toiletries that you can break up and use during the year.