Leveraging Post Holiday Sales for Valentines, Birthdays and Beyond

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas is one of the most wallet-stretching holidays, if not the biggest wallet-cleaning
holiday of the year. In our haste to check off that Christmas list, we usually spend more than
intended on gifts, and by the time the holiday are over, "broke but happy" is a common saying
for most of us. And just as soon as we're breathing normally, another holiday pops up. Valentine's Day, Aunt
Sally's birthday, a friend's baby shower - there is no time to shop or money to burn when those
days roll around!

As a mom and the primary family shopper, I've come to realize that planning ahead is a great way
to stay on top of my gift-giving desires and obligations. Plus, it lets me whip out amazing gifts for
any occasion. How do I do this? By taking advantage of post-Christmas sales! When
retailers want to get rid of surplus stock, I bring my wallet and a strict list of all my gift-giving
needs to their stores. This goes for online as well as brick-and-mortar stores.

Here are some tips on getting ready for post Christmas shopping:

Make your list. I update mine right after the New Year, removing people I may no longer be close to
and adding on new friends. This list should be organized by month, person, and the type
of gift they usually receive. I also stock up on hostess gifts and children's birthday gifts
at this time. Each person or category (such as hostess gifts) gets a price limit, and that is
written in big letters.

Know thy stores. Know which stores sell what, and who has the largest discounts for your
gift-giving needs. Stores will always advertise their blow-out sales, so next to each
person/category on your list, put a few stores that have what you need at the best

Coupon clipper? Bring them in when you go holiday shopping to combine discounts with
the coupons. This will make a big sale even lighter on the pocket.

Make room. Whether in the pantry, or the freezer, or the bedroom - dedicate space for
these gifts. It is much more efficient to have everything neatly stacked in one space.
When you've got an occasion coming up, you know EXACTLY where to go!

Not a fan of shopping right after Christmas? Scout your favorite online stores for post
Christmas blowouts. Most of them are sure to be clearing out their inventory for the
year. This way you can do all your post-holiday shopping in the safety (and calm) of your
own home, away from the other bargain hunters.

Good buys on post holiday sales:

Plain colored wrapper (one color, vibrant or elegant, of course). Pick a red, gold, silver,
or green. This will fit into various holidays within the year, and if you have a signature
hue, buy that, and make your present really represent you when giving it to the

Craft supplies. Handy with crafts? Make your own gifts/wrap them/make holiday cards
and the like with craft supplies you bought at a fraction of the cost.Gift sets. Holiday baskets or packages can easily be repacked in a canvas tote, or other
packaging to use as birthday gifts. As long as the items themselves aren't in holiday
edition packaging, they can be used year-round as gifts.

Classic fashion. Fashion is always on a steep post-holiday discount, so take advantage
and stock up on gifts for relatives and friends who have
timeless style. Classic little black dresses, scarves for the winter, and flip flops for the
summer will be amazing gifts for the eternal Fashionista on the list.

Food and snacks. Check the expiration date before you buy! Candies and other food
items are priced at an all-time low after Christmas, so bulk up for those winter and
spring holidays such as Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter. They're also perfect
for a friend or family member who loves sweets and snacks. Repackage them into a
personalized box or basket and surprise them with a load of food that you got at a
fraction of cost!

Baking and food preparation items. Don't have time to make them a cake? Make it a basket
of food preparation items that you got on sale. Many home goods stores put their baking
items on discount, so make a nice basket of inexpensive cake or brownie mixes and the
appropriate pan(s). Tuck a loving note into the package and you'll have a personalized gift
that, with any luck, you'll be invited to partake in when the time comes!

I love to start the year by saving money on items that would normally rack up unexpected
expenses. By using this post holiday shopping tip sheet, you'll never forget an occasion or a
holiday, or overspend on something that you bought at the last minute. Pinching
pennies doesn't have to mean looking cheap!

Maxine is a dedicated mother who works to instill in her children the ideas of giving, charity and frugality so they have a solid foundation for their future. When not with her family, she works for Treetopia, a seller of artificial Christmas trees. The Christmas tree sale this holiday season was particularly busy but a great reminder for her of the need to balance work and family.

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