by Samantha McCarthy

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… after holiday sales have begun! Starting the day after Christmas, you can find that most stores holiday merchandise has marked down to nearly 50% off the original pricing. (In the coming days we’ll bet you can see that increase to 75-90%.) You can even ask the store manager when the markdowns will take place–to get a lead on your fellow shoppers–most of the time management will tell you. With that in mind, it’s time to head to your favorite stores and find some treasures before it’s all picked over. Here are a few tips on how to get started.

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Make a List, Check It Twice

Every year I start by taking an inventory of everything that I have left from this holiday season. Then I make a checklist of what I think I’ll need in the upcoming year. Some things to think about; did any ornaments break and need replacing? Did some of your Christmas lights go out? Did you run out of holiday cards to mail to family and Friends? This is a great time to stock up on everything from those holiday cards and gift-wrapping supplies, to candles and twinkle lights. Also, be sure to add all those items you wanted before the holidays began to your list, because now they’ll be even more reasonably priced.


Multi-Use Wrapping Paper

These days, wrapping paper isn’t just red and green Christmas themed. I always like to find a lot of bright patterns and fun designs mixed in to the solid color paper. This time of year is the perfect time to stock up on wrapping paper for other occasions at a good price as well. No one’s going to know the hot pink wrapping paper for your friend’s birthday was actually part of a holiday selection. Or, if you’re like me you need it for other reasons. Like for your “must come with at least one article of clothing as wrapping paper” party next December.


Sugar and Spice

Another item that is a good buy at any after Christmas sales are scented candles. Who doesn’t love the smell of sugar cookies, apple pie, cinnamon and all the other holiday smells. Put it in a pretty candle-holder or peel off the sticker to give it an everyday look.

Other Tips to Keep In Mind

• Check out Sunday’s Chicago Tribune in the weeks after the holidays. Many times, this is where stores announce their big sales. They also sometimes add coupons here for sale items.
• Don’t buy just to buy. Buy what you actually need. I can’t tell you how many times I bought something because it was on sale and it ended up in the garbage.

Top 5 Places to Shop for after Christmas Sales

1) Target you name it, they’ve got it

2) Hobby Lobby love their ribbon selection

3) Walgreens specifically holiday candies

4) Toys ‘R’ Us kid friendly and most people don’t think to check their for gift-wrapping

5) Michael’s huge selection of holiday floral and centerpiece arrangements

Do you have any tips or suggestions for after Christmas sales? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

Samantha McCarthy is a freelance writer living in downtown Chicago.