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The best things to buy in December to save money

The best things to buy in December to save money
Posted at 11:55 AM, Nov 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-30 14:50:42-05

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday get lots of well-deserved love from savvy deal-spotters. But the truth is, lots of retailers keep on discounting items straight through December. They know that most people have presents to buy during this month, so they compete for customers all the way up through Christmas.

Take Green Monday — also known as the second Monday in December, which falls on Dec. 11 this year — when online shoppers take to their keyboards in droves to pick up last-minute gifts. It’s the biggest online sales day of the month.

Or consider Super Saturday — the Saturday before Christmas, which is Dec. 23 this year. Parents need to pick up those forgotten stocking stuffers and procrastinators need to get a move on starting (and finishing) their to-do lists. Last year, more than 158 million shoppers were expected to brave the stores that day. Retailers offer steep discounts on both Green Monday and Super Saturday.

Then there’s the week after Christmas, when stores hold even bigger sales to clear out their inventory in the waning days of the year. And people come out to use the gift cards they received as gifts or return items they don’t want to keep.

So … it sounds like you’ve got some deals to grab! Here are some of the best things to buy in December.

Gift Cards

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The month of December is notorious for gift card promotions, especially at warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco, which sell packs of them at a discount of up to 20%. Target gets in on the act as well, offering 10% off on its gift cards Dec. 2-3.

You can also find deals on gift cards at restaurants, spas and nail salons: look for ones that offer a small bonus per gift card you buy. For example, you get a $10 bonus if you buy $50 in gift cards right now at Chili’s.

If you’re wondering whether a loved one would want a gift card (as opposed to an actual gift), the answer is probably yes. According to a recent survey from The Strawhecker Group and Bank of America, 84% of respondents enjoy receiving one.

“Buying gift cards gives the recipient the option to buy what they want when they want it — hopefully at a time when the price is a little lower,” Paula Rosenblum, co-founder and managing partner of Retail Systems Research, told Nerdwallet.

Toys

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MORE: The hot 2023 holiday toys you should start buying now

Retailers know that lots of parents are playing Santa Claus at the end of this month and they want to be the ones to fill their sacks. They may cut prices by 30 % to 50% on toys throughout December.

Prices get better as the holiday grows closer, with the best deals happening around Super Saturday. Big box stores like Target, Walmart and Amazon will discount toys, and so will department stores like Macy’s and Belk.

Just keep in mind that these rules don’t apply to the most in-demand toys. So if you are on the hunt for a Barbie Dreamhouse, save yourself some hassle and buy it early.

Holiday Decor and Trappings (Like Gift Wrap)

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MORE: Great ways to save on Christmas decorations

When is the best time to buy holiday decor? Why, after the holiday has just ended, of course! Hit the after-Christmas sales at home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, and don’t sleep on the post-holiday discounts at Target and Walmart. Other stores well known for great deals in the week between Christmas and New Year’s are Amazon, Belk and Crate & Barrel.

Fall Clothing

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Last year, Dealnews listed more than 1,400 clothing and accessory deals during the month of December. Online clothing retailers often tend to reduce prices on Green Monday to levels that match what you see on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Note that the sales mainly apply to fall clothing — not the heavier items that people are starting to wear for colder weather. Retailers are looking to unload light jackets and sweaters to make room for the heavier stuff. Of course, you can always layer a few pieces together or wear fall clothes on milder days!

Lingerie (Victoria’s Secret)

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Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale for 2023 is scheduled to begin on Dec. 26 and will continue for a week or so into January. The store puts almost everything on sale at prices that are 40% to 70% off. Honestly, it seems almost silly to shop there outside of its sales. (The other semi-annual sale is in June.)

Victoria’s Secret also knows that its products are quite giftable, so you can expect to see deep discounts in the days running up to Christmas, too. Back in November, the chain offered 10 pairs of underwear for $39 and shoppers are hoping to see that price again.

MORE: How to save online shopping with Honey

Fine Jewelry

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Late December is the time to pull the trigger on fine jewelry. You may really, really want that diamond ring (or tennis bracelet or teardrop pendant) for Christmas. But if you wait just one day to buy it and shop on Dec. 26, the price could go down by as much as 60% during the year-end sales at stores like Zales, Blue Nile, Jared, Kohl’s and  Macy’s.

If you really want it to be a holiday gift, why not buy it after Christmas and wrap it up for Valentine’s Day?

Cookies

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National Cookie Day is Dec. 4, and you know what that means — cookie freebies! If you’re going to be holiday shopping anyway, why not stop by a place that’s offering one?

Insomnia Cookies, Mrs. Fields and Jimmy John’s are just three of the national retailers that offer free or discounted cookies on this day.

Customized Photo Calendars and Books

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Photo book brands like Shutterfly, Snapfish, VistaPrint and Mixbook do a brisk business in December. They each want you to choose their service to create your personal family calendar or end-of-year photo book.

That’s why they all run deals during December. Last year,  Mixbook featured 15 Days of Deals for the first 15 days of December. Remember that customized items take time to make and then ship, so ordering your creation within that time period is the best way to get it on time for Christmas, anyway.

Champagne

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What holiday comes to mind when you think of Champagne? New Year’s Eve! So it’s little wonder that 22% of all Champagne sales in the U.S. take place this month, according to nonprofit professional organization GuildSomm.

Alcohol retailers know that lots of customers will need a little bubbly for the end of the year, so they put it on sale to entice them into the store. No doubt they’re hoping you’ll also buy a little rum for your eggnog while you’re there!

This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.