The Best and Worst Things to Buy in December

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As the year is winding down, some December deals are starting to heat up. But not everything is a bargain.

This post comes from partner site DealNews.

December is a month when you almost can’t avoid shopping. You may have skipped Black Friday, overwhelmed by the offers, hype and crowds. But the holiday season is a different beast altogether, with gifts from loved ones, friends, and people you barely know coming at you from all angles.

Maintain lots of holiday cheer by shopping wisely with our December buying guide. We’ve pored over the extensive DealNews archives from years past to guide you in your quest for the most savvy purchases in December.

Money Talks News savings expert Stacy Johnson hits the highlights in this video. Read on for more about what DealNews predicts what will be the best bargains in December and what items you should delay purchasing.

Shop for toys during the midmonth sweet spot

Last year, for the first time ever, Black Friday week overtook any given week in December for the most Editors’ Choice toy deals, but if you didn’t finish all your holiday shopping last month, there are still ways to save.

According to our data, toy sales will increase in volume, with discounts of up to 85 percent off, during the middle two weeks of December, roughly Dec. 7 through Dec. 20. That’s a big range, so there’s no excuse to put your shopping off to the last minute, but if you need another reason to shop early, consider the fact that prices sometimes go up right before Christmas, as retailers take advantage of desperate shoppers who have less time to shop around and compare.

Keep an eye out for gift card freebies

A popular promotion throughout the month of December, especially among restaurants, is to offer a free gift card to shoppers who purchase one as a gift. For example, last year California Pizza Kitchen offered a $20 gift card to anyone who purchased $100 or more in gift cards.

Retailers, on the other hand, are more likely to offer a gift card with purchases that reach a certain order threshold: L.L.Bean currently offers a free $10 gift card to any customer that spends $50 or more.

Or shop for cheaper iTunes gift cards

December is by far the best month to find discounts on iTunes gift cards, averaging about three deals per week. You’re most likely to score a $50 card for $40, or other increments at 20 percent off. Buy some as easy gifts for the holidays, or stock up for yourself and effectively save 20 percent on everything you download in the coming year.

To see all of our tips on how you can save money on these cards, read our guide.

Pack lightly for the holidays

This December will see two major airlines increasing fees for checked baggage. Spirit Airlines is inexplicably tacking on a $2 surcharge during the holiday season, bringing the cost to about $42 for a checked bag. Meanwhile, JetBlue sadly announced that it will no longer allow a free checked bag for customers who purchase the lowest-price ticket. (Pay attention to the price difference in those tickets if you’d otherwise have to pay $25 to check a bag.)

As Time points out, the only remaining airline that allows free checked bags is Southwest Airlines.

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