Black Friday really should be called Amateur Hour. Smart shoppers know that the real deals happen immediately after December 25, when retailers are looking to get rid of their winter inventory. But while you're hitting the mall and browsing the websites in late December, don't forget to check out the clearance sales on holiday decorations that take place between Christmas and New Year's Day. Just a little research will snag you some sweet savings on next year's festivities.
Shopping for inflatable Santas and snowflake tablecloths in late November is like looking for bathing suits and sundresses in June: You'll get what you want, but your bank account will feel the pinch. Retailers take advantage of our desperation and impulse-shopping urges, loading their shelves with seasonal merchandise and waiting for us to pounce. But once the season is over, we're less inclined to buy, which is a short-sighted move at best. We should be thinking in terms of what we'll need at this time next year, and buying all the clothes and decor that the stores can't get rid of fast enough. (I have a Halloween-loving friend who snatches up all the pumpkin centerpieces and skeleton figurines as soon as they get put on the clearance shelves on November 1.)
So before the ball drops on New Year's Eve and the unsold snowmen get shipped back to the warehouses, do some smart shopping and pick out the indoor and outdoor decorations you'll be delighted to unpack next December. (Yes, you'll be entitled to a little bragging when your friends and neighbors ask where you got them from.) Here are just a few of the great buys you can get right now.