I love hitting the after Christmas clearance sales (and the sales after any major holiday), especially as they move into the deeper discounts. There are usually plenty of items left and prices are slashed to 75 – 90 percent off. When I hit the sales I sometimes look for holiday items, but more often than not I’m looking for things I can use during the rest of the year. You may not realize it, but there are many items on the holiday aisle that you can use all year.
Wrapping paper, gift bags, gift tags, and bows
Many of the gift wrapping items sold on the Christmas/holiday aisle can be used any time of year. Look for papers and bags that are colored or patterned without holiday specific characters or messages on them.
White boxes and tissue paper
Stores clear out white gift boxes and tissue paper that can be used any time. Even some of the printed or colored boxes can be used any time as long as you stay away from holiday specific patterns and messages.
Candy and Food
After Christmas, Halloween, Easter and Valentine’s Day, you can snag nuts, bagged and boxed candy, and other specialty foods, including baking ingredients, all on clearance. Much of this isn’t even holiday themed. Boxed candy can be given at a variety of occasions and you can stock your pantry with things like pie fillings, quick bread mixes, and other useful items. Even if the candy is holiday colored, there’s nothing wrong with eating red and green candy in May.
You can find holiday themed paper towels and tissues on clearance. Unless you care that they are decorated, you can use them all year. You can also find paper plates and napkins, some of which are sold on the holiday aisle but aren’t really that themed. Solid red plates can be used on Valentine’s day or the 4th of July. Pieces with snowmen can be used all winter. Pastels left from Easter can be used any time.
Extension cords and timers
After the holidays is a great time to pick up cords, adapters, and timers cheap. They may be green, but if you’re going to be using them outside or you don’t mind green, that’s fine.
Unless you’re really hung up on the colors of your storage bins, you can pick up a lot of red and green or orange and black storage boxes after Christmas and Halloween. If you’re just going to stick them in the attic or basement, it doesn’t matter what color they are.
Of course you can always buy cards on clearance and send them next year, but you can also get other uses out of Christmas, Easter, or Valentines cards during the year. You can use them for craft projects for the kids. You can cut them up and make them into gift tags. Cards that are blank inside and not too holiday specific can be sent for other occasions. (Plain winter, spring, or autumn scenes are an example of this.) You can use the envelopes to mail other things. If the cards are cheap enough, you can get a box of cards for less than a box of regular envelopes.
Tape and Scissors
With the wrapping done, many stores clearance tape and scissors. Tape is always useful, as is a spare pair of scissors.
After Christmas and Easter toy clearances are great times to stock up on presents for birthdays (your child’s or their friends’), next Easter, or next Christmas.
Not all ornaments are Christmas themed. I see plenty of animals, athletic/team oriented items, cartoon characters, and destinations made into ornaments. If you collect such things because you’re a fan or you play a certain sport (or you know someone who does) ornaments can make good year-round decorations.
We have a motorhome and we decorate the awning with lights when we’re parked. After Christmas and Halloween sales are a great time to pick up strings of lights cheap. There are regular lights or specialty shapes to choose from. We can also get some non-holiday-specific yard art like color changing globes, snowmen (which are good to display all winter), and other items. If you decorate your deck or patio in the summer with lights, the sales can be a great time to find them cheap.
Holiday themed sheets, bath towels, kitchen towels, place mats and tablecloths are easy to find. Many can be used throughout the winter, or all year. If the color scheme of your kitchen or bath is green or red, you’ll be able to find plenty of items after Christmas that will work for you, for example. You’ll also be able to find plenty of things with snowmen on them that will work all winter. If you don’t care what kind of sheets you use on your bed, you can use holiday themed sheets any time.
You can do very well even late into the after holiday sales period if you look for less common sources of items. While the big box department stores and card stores might be cleaned out fairly quickly, places like grocery stores, drug stores, home improvement stores, book stores, and mom and pop stores may have holiday items for weeks at progressively cheaper prices. You can also do well if you have some less traveled big box stores in your area. For example, we have two Targets close to us. For some reason one is much more popular than the other. The second store often has holiday clearance items much longer than the other.
The time after any major holiday like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, or Halloween is a great time to find many of these items at reduced prices. Buying those things that you can use all year when they are discounted will save you more money than buying only what you think you’ll need for next year’s holiday.
(Photo courtesy of jcmedina)