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Things to buy in December

Toys are one of the best things to buy in December, including Lego.

Maggie Hensler photo

I’m sure that many of us are buying plenty of things in December from gifts to items for holiday gatherings, and the stores know that, so they are trying to draw you into their store by offering promotions on lots of items. December has some of the busiest shopping days of the year, but what are the best deals that stores are offering? Here are a few of the things you should buy in December.

1. Gift Cards

Every year, I say I’m going to save money throughout the year to buy lots of gift cards to all my favorite places in December, and I never really do, but I’ll definitely take advantage of a couple promotions. So many places have promotions from around Black Friday all the way through Christmas to try to get you to pick up a gift card at their store or restaurant. Some places give you an extra offer to buy a gift card, like spend $25 in gift cards, get $5 free. Or they’ll give you a bonus coupon to use a few weeks later, so you can buy a gift card for a gift and use the bonus on yourself. Many stores also offer discounts on gift cards, like iTunes gift cards can often be purchased for less than the value in several stores. Tomorrow only, Target will be offering 10 percent off Target gift cards.

2. Toys

Santa should definitely take note of this one. Of course, there were plenty of toy deals last month, but December is an even bigger month to pick up toys for less as Santa and families continue to purchase items for children’s wish lists. Legos and Barbies tend to hit low prices this month, and you don’t see a lot of sales on Legos throughout the year. Amazon will also try to beat store prices, so be sure to comparison shop. Be careful you don’t wait too long for the toys, as you’ll see bare shelves and higher prices the closer we get to Christmas. If you’re looking for one of the really hot toys, like Fingerlings, you may just need to wait until after Christmas to find one, as those are flying off the shelves and off online stores about as fast as they can put them out.

3. Christmas and New Year's items

Of course, the best time to buy many Christmas items is after Christmas when things go on clearance, but if you’re really in need of some items, check the stores just before Christmas. Some stores actually start to mark down some items, like real and artificial Christmas trees just before Christmas so they can start clearing the floor of those big items. If you want new Christmas lights or big lawn decorations for next year, you might not want to wait until after Christmas, as it’s often hard to find those on clearance. It’s also still a good time to stock your freezer and pantry with low prices on holiday foods, from hams to canned goods to baking supplies. Don’t forget New Year’s, as this is the best time of year to get low prices on champagne for midnight toasts for the adults and sparkling juice for the little ones or designated drivers.

4. Golf Clubs

With winter upon us, golf season has come to an end, so now you’ll find some good discounts on golf clubs. If you will be needing new clubs next season or you have a golfer on your Christmas shopping list, this is the time to buy. You can put them away and just dream of the first beautiful spring day that you can use them.

Keep an eye on the ads to pick up some of these best December buys. Stores are still trying to do what they can to bring you into their store, so take advantage of special promotions. Don’t forget that stores also want you to shop online, so you’ll see plenty of online promo codes, and even free shipping throughout the season, with more stores offering one last push for Christmas shopping on Free Shipping Day, which is Dec. 15 this year.

Maggie Hensler is a teacher living the frugal life in Davenport with her husband and two boys. Her column runs every Saturday in the Quad-City Times.

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