What to buy in December

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Black Friday shopping weekend has scarcely ended, but get ready to get shopping again in December.

Depending on what you’re looking for, you still have time to score big deals on some items and get them there before Christmas.

Here are some of the categories that traditionally see discounts in December:

Christmas decorations: As with most post-holiday sales, you can expect discounts of 50 percent and higher on Christmas and other holiday decorations once the holiday has passed.

Cyber Week: Cyber Monday was yesterday, but some retailers — Target, Wal-Mart — extend these online sales over the first week of December. Compare prices and you may be able to get similar items during the next few days that you didn’t buy on Black Friday. However, be prepared for some of the more popular items to be out-of-stock and know that online prices can change very quickly.

Gift cards: Many businesses will offer free gift cards with purchase. This is particularly true for restaurants, but can apply to other categories as well. Here are a few examples:

  • Olive Garden: Purchase $50 in gift cards and you will receive a $10 bonus card.
  • Garnish & Gather: For every $45 spent on gift cards, you get $10 to spend on yourself.
  • Here to Serve Restaurants: Purchase $100 in gift cards at any of Here to Serve’s 13 restaurants and receive $20.
  • Intimacy: Spend $100 on a gift card and get a $20 bonus so the card value is $120.
  • Maggiano’s: Get a $20 bonus card and a one-year subscription to Food and Wine Magazine with $100 online gift card purchase.

In addition, in late December and January, look for discounts on gift cards from gift card resellers like GiftCardGranny.com as people begin to sell any unwanted gift cards they received as gifts during the holidays.

Toys: Some retailers offered moderate discounts on toys in November, but according to reports last year from the deal trackers at DealNews.com, the best prices on toys came during the first few weeks of December. This trend applied to the hot toys on the Toys “R” Us Fabulous 15 list and toys that didn’t make the hot list. But if a particular toy is a must-have, you may want to buy it at the first discount.

Wedding dresses: According to Mark Di Vincenzo, author of “Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00,” (Morrow, $14), December is the best time to buy wedding dresses. Bridal shops bring in new styles in November. If you shop in December, you beat the people who just got engaged and you can negotiate with shop owners who want to boost their end-of-the-year sales.

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