I’ll let you in on a little secret: I love after-Christmas sales.
Most stores will put their holiday items on 50% clearance the day after Christmas. If you have your eye on something particular that might run out, this is the time to pick it up. For example, I always try to buy my cards for the next year on the day after Christmas because I have certain criteria that my cards must satisfy, and there’s too good a chance that the few cards that meet those criteria will sell out.
About a week after Christmas, the clearance price drops to 75% off and about one week after that, it’s 90% off. The actual dates vary according to store, so it’s worth popping in often to see what’s going on. I’m not nearly as particular about wrapping materials as I am about cards, so I always wait until there’s a 90% clearance for paper, ribbon and tissue paper. I try to buy a couple of wrapping paper rolls that have a neutral pattern and white tissue paper – that way, I can use them year-round and no one will know how cheap they were.
I’ll also look for anything that can be given as a gift throughout the year. For example, I’ve picked up multi-packs of little Playdoh tubs in the past (although this year I got a whole bunch during Halloween clearance sales).
I will caution against buying the cheapest wrapping paper because it tends to tear extremely easily (yes, that was a lesson learned the hard way). But the reverse side makes for inexpensive and huge sheets of paper to draw and color on.
Another word of caution: While the prices are tempting, especially at 90% off, try not to go overboard. The very first time I shopped an after-Christmas sale, I bought half a dozen bags of bows because they were about 25 cents per bag. It’s now five years later and I still have two full bags left. The lesson: There will always be another sale next year, so you only need one year’s worth of supplies!