Beyond Wrapping Paper -- Post-Holiday Bargains
It doesn't take a frugal bloodhound to seek out half-price wrapping paper and holiday cards in early January. But don't stop your discount shopping there.
Recent years have seen an explosion of holiday-themed products. In catalogs, I was amazed and slightly disgusted to see holiday bedsheets and area rugs in addition to the more traditional decorations such as tableclothes and towels. In the grocery store, you'll see Christmas tree-shaped crackers and Santa-printed everyday napkins.
All this is decidedly unfrugal at full price. Do we really need a whole alternate set of housewares stashed away for use during only one month of the year?
But after Christmas, this wasteful trend becomes a boon to the frugal. The following are some of the things I've picked up at deep discount this year, mostly from the clearance cart at my local grocery, but also at drugstores and Target.
- Paper napkins. Who cares if you're still wiping your mouth with Santa Clause come spring?
- Candles. I like to burn a candle when I'm chopping onions, and I find cinnamon a pleasant aroma year-round. So I was happy to snap up some holiday-scented candles for a quarter each.
- Stickers. With a preschooler in the house, you can never have too many stickers, and I grabbed some books with hundreds of Santas, reindeer and snowflakes for a dime a book. What my daughter doesn't use now, I'll save for small gifts for her classmates next year, or for sealing our Christmas cards, or for making gift tags.
- Personal care products packaged as gifts. This was my frugal triumph this year: Six tubes of sparkly holiday lip balms in a zippered case for 25 cents. I use a lot of chapstick and the tubes are always getting lost or wrecked in the laundry. If there had been 100 of these available, I would have bought them all.
- Clothing. Now is the time to buy holiday jammies in next year's size for the kids.
- Candy. You may feel like you already have enough Christmas candy to last until next year. But think about chocolate fondue, gourmet hot cocoa, dipped strawberries for Valentine's, s'mores, chocolate chunk cookies -- and who says peppermint bark can only be made at Christmas? I might have been sick of Christmas caroles by Thanksgiving this year, but I could never get sick of peppermint bark.
- Food. I bought a pre-cooked turkey for 99 cents a pound this weekend that turned into a dozen meals, some fresh, some frozen. My daughter loves to bake, especially with sugar sprinkles and cans of frosting, so I bought some green and red decorations for practically nothing. I even heard about this use for extra eggnog on the grocery store TV.