How to Shop After-Christmas Sales: What to Buy and What to Skip

·4 min read

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the days after the holiday are the second-most wonderful time of the year for one reason—after-Christmas sales. I'm a pro at post-holiday shopping, and over the years I've learned what sales are worth it, and what items you should probably skip (even if it is a great deal).

My go-to stores are Target, HomeGoods, and Michaels but you can find amazing discounts just about everywhere that sells holiday merchandise. The secret to scoring really great deals on good quality products is to go at the right time. The day after Christmas, things aren't marked down much yet, but by New Year's Eve, the good stuff is usually gone. I've found that the sweet spot is about three days after Christmas—prices are marked way down as stores try to clear out before the end of the year, but the selection isn't too picked-over yet.

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What to Buy at After-Christmas Sales

Holiday Cards

Christmas cards are always the first thing I look for when I get to the store. Even if you usually send a designed photo card to family members, you can always use generic holiday cards for coworkers, teachers and childcare staff, your hairstylists, and anyone else you're sending some extra appreciation to at the holidays. I usually find really pretty boxed card sets for less than $1 at HomeGoods—just be sure the cards don't have the year on them!

Holiday Decor Basics

As you're putting up your Christmas decor this year, make a list of all the basic items you use year after year—then stock up at the post-holiday sales. Items like white twinkle lights, basic wreaths and garlands, and neutral ball ornaments are always in style, so you can stock up knowing these things will be used eventually.

Splurge Items

If you've been wanting a new big-ticket item but can do without it this year (I've been eyeing a 7-foot flocked Christmas tree but I don't need it), wait until after the holiday to buy it. If it's truly something you don't actually need, decide how much you're willing to spend on it after Christmas, then scour the stores. If you find it for that price (or cheaper), throw it in the cart. If you can't find a good enough deal on it, pass on it until the next year.

What to Skip at After-Christmas Sales

Trendy Decor Pieces

Be wary of anything super trendy, even if it is a great deal. While you might really love those trendy pampas grass Christmas trees this year, decorating trends can go as quickly as they come—and even if you got a great deal on it, it's still a waste of money if you don't like it enough to put up the next year.

Anything With the Year On It

I can't tell you how many times I've scored something for super cheap, only to get it home and realize it has the year on it—meaning I won't be able to use it next year. Before you drop anything into your cart, be sure to double-check your items for a sneaky small year printed somewhere on the object. Otherwise, you won't be able to use or gift it next year.

Floor Models

Many stores that sell Christmas trees will have a floor model up throughout the year, which just means they've unboxed one of the trees and put it on display. And usually, they'll sell those floor models at a major discount at the end of the year—but while you might get a better price on a floor model than on a tree or wreath that's still in the box, it's probably not worth it. These items have been on display for months, meaning they've likely been bumped into by shopping carts and messy children all season, so they won't be in prime condition. Plus, the lights on pre-lit trees will have been on all day every day since Halloween—which means they're likely to go bad much sooner.