Beyond Wrapping Paper -- Post-Holiday Bargains

Photo: Carrie Kirby

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.

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Guest's picture

Great ideas in the post.

Many retailers, who normally do not carry gift items throughout the rest of the year,decide to add gifts to their inventory for their fourth quarter.

For example, I have found good toys such as trucks, games, and project kits to stockpile for gifts throughout the year at large grocery stores, craft shops, autoparts shops, hardware stores,book stores and nurseries.

It is a good time to stop at these stores after the holidays because they are anxious to get rid of this inventory. Rarely does a retailer have the space to store the items until the next Christmas season.

Guest's picture
Michelle Dawn

Last year my husband and I got a couple of boxes of Christmas cards for $1.00 each -they were regular $16.99. We haven't found anything that good yet.

The price of planners and calendars are starting to come down too so keep an eye out if you need one!

Guest's picture

Why use the santa napkins now? Hold them for the holidays next year. Or, like us, our soon-to-be-yearly summer Redneck BBQ, where mixed holidayware is IN!

I, too, like to snatch up seasonal items for a song at after-holiday prices--like cans of pumpkin, colorful paper products (though I prefer solids that can be used year-round), cards and stickers for use next year, and so on.

But that turkey you found was a real steal! You go girl!

Myscha Theriault's picture

They were marked down before Christmas, but they are REALLY marked down now. Cool post.

Myscha Theriault's picture

They were marked down before Christmas, but they are REALLY marked down now. Cool post.

Guest's picture

I bought next year's holiday cards ... 30 cards for $1.50. I keep a selection of greeting cards that I buy cheap as I see them for different occasions and keep them in a box that I can easily access when I need them. This also saves me a trip to the store last minute for b-day cards.

I also will admit that I have some light purple flannel pj pants with reindeer on them that I wear throughout the year. Who cares if you're wearing Holiday pj's when it's not the right holiday of the year (heck, pick up some St. Patty's pjs after the holiday for cheap and wear those all year too!) I can't say the same for holiday socks though. :)

Guest's picture

Whenever I need storage bins of any size, post-holiday is the time to stock up. Just because something has a "red lid" makes it Christmasy? I don't think so. Sometimes it's rather garish, but if it's just for storage in your attic, does it really matter when it's 75% off?

Carrie Kirby's picture

My mother-in-law likes to buy us all themed socks at each holiday. I hope she's not reading this, because I'm about to make a confession: You can always tell when I'm behind on my laundry if you see me wearing a pair of socks with gingerbread men, hearts, shamrocks, etc.

Guest's picture

Christmas Candy was 75% off last week at CVS. I bought a few bags as filler because I needed to make a $20 purchase to use a CVS coupon.

Guest's picture

I went into CVS tonight to fill a scrip and there was one little shelf of Christmas stuff left. 90 percent off! I bought 3 rolls of wrapping paper for 25-40 cents each, and 3 packages of candy canes for 10 cents a box.

I'm gonna make me some peppermint hot cocoa AND peppermint brownies. MMMM.

Guest's picture

Yep! I found some lovely paper on sale at Ikea. Not xmas-related design and even double face.