Do you make after-Christmas purchases for future use, or do you just buy things as you need them at the last minute? A lot of money can be saved by being strategic with what you buy and when. Even better than Black Friday deals, are after Christmas sales for me.
Growing up, my parents saved money any way they could, and having my maternal grandparents just two doors down the street, who had raised children during the Great Depression and WWII, I also learned how to save money. Since the great crash of 2008, just a couple of months after we became parents, and now the year of Covid-19, it’s still something that is necessary.
Here are some of the things we purchase after Christmas to save money.
1. Gift Wrap
It is very rare indeed if we ever buy gift wrap before Christmas. This is number one on my after-Christmas shopping list. Before Christmas you can pay a fortune for wrap, even at £1-£2 a roll. After Christmas you can save from 50%-75% off the original price. A couple of years ago we stocked up on nifty wrap at 25 pence a roll. for £2 we had enough to last us a while.
Also look for wrap that doesn’t have Christmas motifs on it (plain gold, red, etc.) and you can use it for birthdays, too, adding extra colour to it with coloured ribbon and bows.
2. Ribbon and Bows
You guessed it; my number two item to buy after Christmas is ribbon and bows! Our stock is starting to run low, but there’s no way I’m going to pay the outrageous prices online. These I usually purchase from a £1 shop and get a bag or two for at least 50% off.
3. Christmas Cards
This year I handmade all of my Christmas cards, which can be quite expensive once all of the supplies are added up, not to mention the time it takes! Some years I make cards, but other years I’m just too busy and time runs out and I use bought cards.
Christmas cards are a great thing to buy after Christmas when the shops don’t want to keep them in storage for the next year. A box of 10-20 can be bought for 50 pence to £1, depending on whether it’s plain or glittery.
Another way to save money is to think about the cards you will buy and who you will use them for – if you’re sending cards overseas, you’ll want them to be smaller and lighter to save on postage!
If you want to be extra-organised, you can even address them this year so they’re ready to send out next year!
4. Christmas Trees
Of course I don’t mean living trees, but rather the artificial variety. Three years ago we found a couple of wonderful Christmas trees before Christmas and I kept my eye on them. One sold out, but we were able to buy the other one on sale for half price. We had it up for the first time last year, and it’s bigger and bushier than the second-hand one we got for our first Christmas together a decade earlier.
If you purchase a new tree and it is replacing a former tree, don’t forget to pass that one on to someone else or donate it to a charity shop (wait until the following year for this so that the charity doesn’t have to pay to keep it in storage for a year). Better yet, contact a local charity to find out if they can give it to a family who otherwise wouldn’t have a tree for Christmas. If you do this, throw in a string of lights and a few decorations as well.
After Christmas is the best time of the year to purchase candles, particularly those scented candles in jars. I would never pay regular price for them, as it just is way too much. I found a large (to me – it might even be medium) candle for about 1/3 the regular price that is so lovely to work near with its peppermint scent.
For the evenings, a gingerbread candle is relaxing. One of these candles will last a couple, or maybe even a few years, in our case as we don’t go overboard with artificial scents.
Of course, this is also the best time to buy a couple of extra ones to give as gifts next year for that Secret Santa, a teacher, or for a that last-minute gift that is always needed for someone.
7. Paper Goods
We have a tradition of giving fresh baking to all of our neighbours, and the children deliver it dressed in Santa hats and served on festive paper plates inside a sealed plastic bag. We’ve also had a meal or two on paper plates when we just can’t face another load of dishes and want to relax and enjoy the holiday.
With this in mind, I’m always sure to have decorated paper plates on hand, which means I purchase them the year before (I’m glad we have done this in the past as I’ve only been in a shop twice since March this year).
Paper napkins are also a good item to stock up on – they can be used for their obvious purpose of brightening up a festive table, but also keep your eye open for ones with smaller designs on them and you can use them for crafting as well – decoupage them onto plant pots (I must write a post to show how my children did this), a wooden box, or anything else.
8. Gift Sets
There are so many more occasions than just Christmas, and boxed gift sets can be quite pricey, but stock up on them after Christmas and you’ll save money later in the year. From toiletries to games, multi-purpose tools and gadgets, and even mini fondue sets and trios of spicy sauces or chutneys, there’s a lot of choice.
9. Christmas Ornaments
Once again, stores don’t want to pay to store these items for a year, so they will sell them at a discount. You can sometimes find some really lovely ornaments at a bargain price. Another tradition that I have had since I was about 12 is that when I can, I like to send Christmas ornaments as gifts to friends and penpals overseas. Another way to use ornaments that my grandma and mom used was to put them on Christmas gifts instead of bows. Sometimes these were bought, other times they were handmade. I still have all of them on our tree.
Another purchase we made the year we bought our tree was a wreath. I know I could make one myself, as I have done a year or two, but the weather isn’t always amenable to gathering greenery outdoors, so a store-bought wreath that can be used year after year may be a better idea. You can find big bushy wreaths, ones made of baubles, or smaller folksy ones.
12. Kitchen Items
In addition to the paper goods mentioned above, there are plenty of kitchen items on sale after Christmas. Some of the items we’ve purchased have been placemats, tea towels, mugs, Christmas dish sets, and fabric napkins. You may also find festive serving bowls, spatulas, spoon rests, cake tins, and more.
13. Food Items
Christmas food can be such a waste, and I was glad to hear that some grocery shops donated their fresh veggies and other items to food banks in Northern Ireland this year, but there are also plenty of items that stores sell off at half price or less. Some of these items will be sold at full price until after New Year’s Eve, but there are always good bargains to be had. This year I saw many people buying turkeys for 75% off in the last hours of Christmas Eve, even.
But longer-life food items are where you’ll probably find good bargains after Christmas. Tree-shaped crackers, chocolates wrapped in red and green, for example. Stock up on these items now – check the best-before dates and you may find they’ll still be in date for next Christmas, but if not, then you can still nibble on tree-shaped cheese crackers in the spring or summer and simply pretend they’re forest trees for camping!
Items such as mincemeat tarts and Christmas cake can be frozen, too.
Remember, the best before dates are simply that- they can still be consumed after that date, but too long after and they may not be as good as before. If you’re a little older, you may even remember a time when foods didn’t come stamped with a best before date at all and people relied on common sense to know when a product was no longer edible.
Regifting, I know, is a controversial topic. But I would rather see something given to someone who will appreciate and use a product than have it set to the side or thrown away. For example, my allergies can’t handle floral scents, so giving me perfume or a lily-scented candle just wouldn’t work. I hate to waste anything, so in a case like this, I might at a later time gift it to someone who I know likes something like that.
Alternatively, I would hold onto it until the following year when care homes and schools often look for these types of items to sell so that students can buy gifts for their parents. I know of care homes here that have set up shops in their buildings so that elderly residents can ‘go’ to the store and buy their own toiletries or gifts for others and have the ‘experience’ that they no longer are able to have outside of the home any longer.