Y'all don't kill me now, but a good way to get started on saving money for Christmas 2014, is to start saving today! One of the expenses that everyone has, but most people forget to add into their Christmas budgets is the cost of decorations and gift wrap. You can easily cut your costs for next year with a bit of careful planning over the next 2-3 weeks.
First up, decor! I have had my eye on a few decorations, but just couldn't swing them with the cost of buying all the ornaments for our first Christmas tree. Shop the after Christmas sales at your favorite places, where stores like Target have traditionally marked their goods down by 50% beginning the day after Christmas. If the thought of getting out in the crowds on December 26th terrifies you, go later in the day. Chances are there will be a decent selection and the early bird, marathon shoppers are usually tired and head home around dinner time. However, the steepest discounts usually begin in mid-January. Typically, I start looking at Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma during that time frame, because I can find things 50-75% off. If you are looking to upgrade your current tree skirt or stockings, this is a great time to buy and save some money for next year. I know I really want a few mercury glass trees to set out as a centerpiece for next year.
Next up, gift wrap! Paper companies make a ton of money during the holiday season and I find it ridiculous to pay their high price tags. That said, I absolutely love high-end gift wrap and I refuse to buy cheap paper, ribbon, and gift tags (stick on bows are different - a stick on bow is a stick on bow no matter how you price it, so go cheap on those). Don't judge!...everyone has their own "thang"...and mine happens to be paper snobbery. However, I should mention, that to me, high-end paper means thick and rich looking (i.e. foil, metallics, beautiful prints), but not necessarily any ol' roll that comes from an expensive store (ahem, Papyrus). The weeks after Christmas are the best time to buy my high-end paper (although, Home Goods has lots of high quality rolls for the $4-5 mark if you should need to purchase it in season). I also tend to gravitate towards wired or satin ribbon as I think they make the best bows.
For sources, check out Target and Walmart (they often have paper labeled as "premium" and its original price is usually 50-100% higher), but also department stores like Belk and Dillards and unconventional places like the drug store (people rarely think to look at drug stores, but they usually carry Hallmark's beautiful papers and gift wrap!). Discount stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall's, and Home Goods are usually stripped out of holiday items in general and I rarely see them offer additional discounts or after Christmas sales.
The biggest way to save money, is not to spend it. If you have already invested in high quality gift wrap for this season - reuse it. My mother will often give me back my ribbon, so I'm able to fold it nicely and store it in a ziplock bag for next year. If your paper is in good condition, re-roll it around an empty tube (My mother has been doing this for years...I have one favorite roll that's pink with angels on it. My mother used it when I was little for all my gifts and reused and reused, so that it became "MY present paper". Now there is barely any left, but I still sometimes get a small present wrapped in my angel paper which is a very great family tradition.). In my case, I also reuse the good quality gift boxes, so a lot of this paper will already be pre-cut for next year! Department stores usually have the best boxes, so if you just bought a cheap multi-pack, feel free to pitch those and keep the others (Nordstrom, Sephora, and Anthropolgie carry the best ones!). The cheap ones rarely keep their shape and the glue that holds them together gets very weak, especially if you store them in your hot summer attic. If you have nice gift bags that are still in good condition, remove the gift tag label and fold the bag nicely. Buy tie-on gift tags so you can reuse the bags next year! The only thing I pitch in its entirety is tissue paper. If it's been used in a high quality shirt box and can easily be compacted down with the box, then that's probably ok. However, if you've used it to stuff bags or it's gotten too wrinkly in the shirt box, PITCH IT.
Storage items are also on sale post-Christmas, so if you bought a new wreath, look for a wreath box to protect it! Or get a plastic box meant for storing wrapping paper. These things are rarely part of the promotional sales that are offered during the Christmas season, which means they are almost always full price until after Christmas, so it's a good time to stock up! You can also use one of your reused gift boxes to store any stick-on bows you buy to keep them organized and prevent them from getting squashed.
Lastly, I would highly recommend that you buy your Christmas cards for next year now. At 50-75% off, you can definitely buy the most beautiful foiled lined envelopes, letterpressed or engraved cards to send out to your loved ones and business contacts next year.
This year, I will need to grab gift tags, gift bags, tissue paper, and Christmas cards. I'm also interested in getting a few more pre-made decorative boxes because they are super sturdy, which came in handy when I shipped my wonderful aunties their gifts to Florida and Arizona. If I see a beautiful roll or three of ribbon I will probably pick up those too (they came in handy for decorating my magnolia wreath!). Don't buy more than you need or can store, but make sure to take advantage of the discounts so you can avoid paying full price next year!
Any good shops I missed to check out their markdowns post Christmas? Let us know!