Just wanted to give you some ideas of things you can get at the after Christmas clearance sales.
1. Look for Christmas cake mixes and frosting on sale. Usually the red and green sprinkles are separate from the rest of the package (this is true for other holiday cupcakes too). You can get a nice yellow or white cake mix really cheap this way.
2. Bath soaps, gels, lotions, etc. Buy one of those large gift packs on clearance and separate the items for birthday or other gifts coming up in the new year. Some of them are holiday scents, so stay away from those (you don't want to LOOK cheap after all)!
3. Check out the expiration on gingerbread houses and other mixes. Some may have expirations that are past next Christmas. I did buy the boys a gingerbread train with a "best by April 2009", however I can almost guarantee that it will still be good come next December. If it doesn't taste good, we can still have fun decorating it and putting it out as a decoration.
4. Buy toys on clearance now for next Christmas or birthday gifts. One of the gifts we gave Ethan this year, I found at CVS on clearance after Christmas last year. I think I might have paid $5 for a $20 train. Do make sure that you buy something that is timeless. You don't want to buy the latest rage this year, only to find out they have no interest in it next year. Timeless things in our house right now are trains, Toy Story, and anything pirate.
5. Buy clearance Christmas chocolates (think Hershey kisses, etc). You can pick out red and silver ones and use them for Valentines Day. Anything gold or silver can be used for New Year's. You can also chop up Christmas chocolates and use them in chocolate chip cookies or something similar (Andes mints, Snickers, mmm). The possibilities are endless.
6. If you are having a New Year's Eve party, look for reduced napkins and plates. I was able to find some plates and napkins with gold and silver snowflakes, at minimal cost, that will work great for our party. Try to think outside of the box.
7. No one should ever pay full price for Christmas wrapping paper. There is tons of it after Christmas and it all goes very cheap. I overheard some women yesterday talking about using some gold or silver wrapping paper for wedding presents. You can also turn not so pretty Christmas wrap inside out and let your kids decorate the white side for next year's wrap. Christmas wrap comes in so many different colors (other than red, green and white) that it can be used for other occasions.
8. If you attend a party with an ornament exchange, now is the time to get those ornaments for next year!
9. If your strand of lights was not so great this year (or your 5 year old takes all the bulbs out during nap time...not that that would ever happen..and definitely not at our house..), now is the time to buy new strands of lights for cheap. Tim and I both have a fondness for the large bulbs, but have always had strands of tiny lights. This year I bought 4 boxes of the large bulbs on clearance and paid about $13. I can hardly wait to see what they look like on our tree next year!
10. Christmas cards can be picked up for a very reasonable price after Christmas. If you are very picky, I suggest going in the 2-3 days right after Christmas. Don't fret though, there are plenty of great cards still out there. I bought our cards for next year and paid $3 for 64 of them.
11. Cookie tins can be purchased very cheaply after Christmas. If you don't have any or need more, now would be the time to buy them. They can be had for as little as .50-.75. Those filled with a homemade treat make a great gift for teachers, Sunday school teachers, babysitters, the mailman, and friends.
It's never too early to start planning for next year's Christmas. After all, it does seem to sneak up on us every year. Picking up even a couple of these deals may help save your sanity (and your pocketbook) next Christmas!
Do you have an after Christmas deal or idea to share?