The 6 Best Things to Buy in December — and 3 to Avoid

Woman with holiday gifts and shopping bags at a mall
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Black Friday is usually built up to be the biggest shopping day of the year, but if you think the deals end once December arrives, you could miss out on great bargains.

There are plenty of December sales and deals to take advantage of, whether you’re shopping for yourself or others.

You’ll need to remember a couple of things when shopping in December, though. One, not every deal is going to be a winner. And two, because of shipping delays, shopping in December may mean that you’re risking your items not arriving in time for the holidays.

Check out our guide on what to buy in December — including before and after Christmas — and what you should wait until later to purchase.

What to Buy Before Christmas

Green Monday Sale Items

Green Monday is a huge day for online sales and falls on the second Monday of December every year. In 2021, Green Monday is December 13, and it should offer you the chance to save 20% to 60% — or even more — on items like clothing, electronics, shoes, and even home improvement products.

While Green Monday discounts typically aren’t as good as Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, the day still has some noteworthy sales to check out. (Learn more in our guide to Green Monday.)

Some of the best Green Monday sales last year included those from Best Buy and Kohl’s. Best Buy offered up deals on a variety of items, such as TVs, laptops, and other tech, while Kohl’s took up to 80% off, plus an extra 15% to 20% off orders of $100.

B&H Photo Video, meanwhile, had a Green Monday sale with notable discounts on smartphones, cameras, accessories, and more. Other popular sales were from Dick’s Sporting Goods, which knocked up to 50% off; Monoprice, which cut up to 70% off; and Reebok, which took 50% off.

Gift Cards

December is an excellent time to shop gift cards for a few different reasons. First, it’s when Amazon and PayPal tend to take up to 20% off the face value of cards for places like Build-A-Bear Workshop, Chipotle, Domino’s, and Michaels.

If 20% off doesn’t sell you, how about bonus credits with your gift card purchases? Last year, for example, you could get a $100 Sephora gift card from Best Buy that came with a free $20 Best Buy gift card. And DSW had a similar offer, where you could purchase a $50 or $100 gift card and receive a $10 or $25 bonus card, respectively.

In addition to these stores, be sure to check out your favorite restaurants and retailers. Often these businesses will offer bonus cards with select purchases of gift cards during December; they’re a type of “buy one, give one” promotion.

Of course, you don’t have to give away the extra card — if you want to keep it all for yourself, we promise not to tell.


Most savvy shoppers are well aware that Black Friday carries a plethora of tech deals — headphones included. We saw more headphone deals in November 2020 than we did last December, but the last month of the year will likely have bargains worth shopping if nothing caught your eye around Black Friday.

And December could have as many as 1.5 times the number of headphone offers that January will, and more than double the number of Staff Picks — our deals that are “the best of the best.”

Look for great savings on big brands like Sony, Beats, Bose, and even Apple AirPods. Need some cans in a more-affordable range? Watch for brands like JBL and Anker to have deals under $40.

What to Buy During After-Christmas Sales

Victoria’s Secret Sale Items

The winter Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale tends to kick off right after Christmas every year. This year’s event should run for at least a couple of weeks in December and January, and you can expect to save 50% to 70% in general.

Discounted items at Victoria’s Secret will probably include intimates, beauty products, and sleepwear, among other items.

Note that shipping thresholds will likely remain high — around $100 — so if you’re planning to shop, either do it all at once and stock up, or be prepared to pay for shipping.

Holiday Decor

If you’re in the market for holiday decor, the rule of thumb is to shop the day after the holiday to score the best discounts. And that mostly holds true in December, as many after-Christmas sales happen during the week following the holiday. You can expect discounts of up to 80% off at various stores around this time.

However, last year we saw plenty of December sales pop up early in the month, too, which meant you could grab seasonal items and still have time to display them in the appropriate season.

For instance, last year Nordstrom Rack offered an extra 25% off holiday decor on December 1. And by December 8, Wayfair had dropped prices on several Christmas trees to under $100.

In addition to sales, we expect to see plenty of individual deals during the month. Some of the best deals we saw last December included ornaments for $6 each, LED Christmas light projectors for $15, and a 7′ giant inflatable LED snowman for $31.

Toys and Video Games

Despite the potential for a toy shortage this year, we still expect to see excellent gaming and toy deals in December.

We listed more than 450 offers for these items in December 2020, but only 15% of those earned our Staff Pick designation. This could be due to the fact that we were starting to see supply chain disruptions even then.

If you receive a new console for the holidays, after-Christmas sales can be a good time to stock up on video games for less.

Last year, we saw Overcooked! 2 for Nintendo Switch drop to only $12 — considering Nintendo deals are rare, this was one of the better offers we found. We also saw Immortals Fenyx Rising for $30 across multiple platforms, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla for $38.

Some sales were worth shopping last December, too. These included the Nintendo Indie World Holiday Sale, which knocked up to 75% off, and The Game Awards Sale at Humble Bundle that took up to 85% off. Enjoy PC games? Watch for the Steam Winter Sale to knock up to 90% off in late December.

If you’re looking for toys over games, be sure to keep an eye out for Macy’s to offer sale and clearance toys for $15 or less. And Target could bring its epic toy sale back in December, as well. Last year, the bull’s-eye retailer took an extra $25 off orders of $100, an offer so good it earned our Staff Pick badge.

Don’t Buy These Things in December

Exercise Equipment

Buy: In January

Why: We saw a 48% increase in exercise deals from December 2020 to January 2021. It’ll likely be the same this year, with retailers using sales to entice those with health-related New Year’s resolutions.


Buy: In January

Why: January 2021 had a 70% increase in the number of bedding deals compared to December 2020, which could be largely related to the White Sales that pop up in the first month of the year. We expect to see a fair number of Staff Pick–worthy deals then on bedding, sheets, towels, and other soft goods.

Gym Memberships

Buy: In January

Why: January is typically a great time to get a new gym membership, as fitness centers offer up perks to entice those with health-centric resolutions. Last year it was a little different because of the pandemic, but January 2022 may prove to be a good time to sign up again.

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