It’s called Christmas creep: the tendency of retailers to put out holiday merchandise at what seems like an earlier time every year.
Some people welcome the holiday cheer with open arms, while others bemoan the trend as too much Christmas, too soon. If you’re into themed decorating, though, this time of year is your best chance to get in on deals.
Why to Buy Now
For years, conventional wisdom held that the best prices came after the holiday. (This is still true for items such as Christmas cards and wrapping paper.) Now, stores are rolling out significant discounts early as well, in an attempt to ensure their inventory is gone by Christmas day. So you don’t have to wait, watching the best stuff sell out, then buy decorations only to sock them away for 11 months before they get used.
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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Before you buy anything, take an inventory of what you have now, see what you can still use or repurpose, and purge the rest. Pinterest is a great place to find ideas for how to reimagine your old stuff. Things to toss: strands of broken lights you’re never going to repair, flattened wreaths, boring stockings and any ornaments that were made from perishables like fruit.
Don’t be afraid to DIY – if your plain garland is in decent shape, head to the ribbon section of your favorite craft store. A few YouTube videos are all you need to execute professional-looking bows and swirls. Pine cones, holly berries and glittery fake fruit can transform your old centerpieces and wreaths after 20 minutes with a hot glue gun.
Holiday-themed décor has changed in the past several years. Suddenly, LED lights are outpacing strands of incandescent bulbs on trees and awnings. If you decide to upgrade your lights, be sure to note that LED bulbs come in a cool, bluish white as well as a warmer, yellower white.
Another trend is toward more of a general winter theme as opposed to being overtly tied to Hanukkah or Christmas. If you go this route, you can leave your decorations up much longer without anyone wondering why Santa’s still hanging around in February.
Besides the tree, figure out one or two places where you’ll focus your decorating. Your fireplace mantel is a great choice, as is the front entryway. When you stop thinking in terms of scattering small stuff throughout your home, you can invest in some bigger pieces that show off your style from year to year.
Where to Shop
Once you’ve figured out what you need to turn your home into a winter wonderland, check out the circulars for craft stores and big-box retailers. Craft stores usually have coupons for 40 percent off or more, with stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond offering 20 percent off single items. But don’t let good deals dazzle you – don’t buy anything you don’t love.
Finally, keep in mind that dressing up your home is just supposed to set the stage for your family’s holiday time together.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens or visit http://communityamerica.com.