The 7 Best Things to Buy in December — and 3 to Avoid

A parent and child in Santa hats hug in front of a Christmas tree
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This story comes from partner site DealNews.com.

Black Friday is hyped up as the biggest shopping day of the year, but it’s not the only time you can find great deals.

It’s not even the only time to snag excellent savings this season. Plenty of December deals will be available, whether you’re shopping for gifts for others or yourself.

It’s important to remember that not every discount you’ll see in December will be good, though. Before you add products to your cart, check out our list of the best things to buy in December — including the best deals after Christmas — and the items you’ll want to wait on.

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 2020, Green Monday is Dec. 14, 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 what we see on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are still some noteworthy sales worth checking out that day.

Some of the best Green Monday sales we saw last year earned our Staff Pick designation, which we reserve for our “best of the best” deals.

These included a sale from Shoes.com. It took up to 60% off plus an extra 35% off, and offered free shipping. Home Depot knocked up to 60% off, as well, cut an extra 10% off, and also offered free shipping on many items. Reebok‘s Green Monday sale received our Staff Pick designation, too, as it offered 40% off — one of the retailer’s best sitewide discounts of the year.

Gift cards

December is an excellent time to shop gift cards for a few different reasons.

First, it’s when Amazon and others to take up to 20% off the face value of cards for places like Panera, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Domino’s and Petco.

If 20% off doesn’t entice you, how about bonus credits with your gift card purchases?

Last year, for example, you could get a $50 Amazon gift card that came with a free $15 credit. Best Buy had a similar deal, offering up a $60 Netflix gift card that came with a bonus $10 Best Buy gift card.

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 — if you want to keep it all for yourself, we promise not to tell.

Headphones

Most savvy shoppers are well aware that Black Friday carries a plethora of tech deals — headphones included. While November and December usually have similar numbers of headphone deals overall, the latter continues to pull ahead in the number of Staff Pick deals.

Look for great savings on big brands like Sony, Beats, Bose and even Apple AirPods. Need something in a more-affordable range? Watch for brands like JBL, Anker and Pioneer to have deals under $20.

We expect most of these headphone deals to pop up before Christmas, but it’s worth looking at the end of the month, too. Last year we saw a handful of excellent offers arrive on or after Dec. 26.

DVDs and Blu-ray Discs

Whether you need an easy gift or just want to expand your movie collection ahead of the long winter, December is a great time to stock up on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs alike.

In fact, it’ll likely have significantly more deals than January. We listed almost eight times the number of movie, TV show and video deals in December 2019 than we did in January 2020.

It’s common to see sales take as much as 40% or 50% off a variety of titles.

December should be a good time to buy full-blown sets, too.

For instance, last year we saw the Best of Warner Bros. 100 Film Collection limited edition on DVD for $90 — that comes to less than $1 per movie. We also saw offerings like the entire collection of Game of Thrones for $198, and The Ultimate Matrix Collection for $36.

You’ll also see deals for individual movies, as well, such as Planes, Trains & Automobiles for $4.

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 40% to 70% in general.

Discounted items will probably include intimates, beauty products, sleepwear and swimwear, among other items.

Note that shipping thresholds might not be lowered until later in the sale, so early on, you may only bag free shipping if you spend over $100. Near the end of the sale, you could get free shipping on orders of at least $50 via a coupon.

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 75% off at various stores around this time. However, last year we saw plenty of 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 Macy’s offered 70% off Holiday Lane decor as early as Dec. 6. And by Dec. 16, eBay had kicked off a sale taking up to 70% off holiday decor, including Christmas trees, tabletop decor and more.

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 strings of festive lights for $4 each, an LED laser light for $9, and pre-lit trees for as little as $13.

Toys and video games

December is an excellent month for gaming and toy sales. Last year, we listed more than 800 offers on toys and gaming items for the whole month, and 39% of those earned our Staff Pick designation. If you don’t find the toys you’re looking for in early December, you should definitely keep an eye out during after-Christmas sales.

Watch for video games to be among the top-notch offers.

For instance, last year we saw Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition for PC drop to $3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided — Season Pass downloadable content for Xbox One for $3, and Life is Strange: Before the Storm deluxe edition for Xbox One for only $5.

While those are great individual deals, we expect retailers to have a handful of sales worth shopping, as well.

In 2019, for example, Walmart cut up to 80% off toys in late December and early January, and Amazon cut up to 50% off toys during an after-Christmas sale, as well. Target offered an extra 25% off video games around Dec. 30, the PlayStation Store‘s sale knocked up to 50% off select titles, and Nintendo offered up to a whopping 90% off online.

Interested in other games? Look for stores like Barnes & Noble to take 50% off board games again this year.

Don’t buy these things in December

Not everything this month is worth your time. If you’re hoping to find significant savings on any of the items below, you’re better off waiting for now.

1. Exercise equipment

When to buy: In January

Why: We saw a 49% increase in exercise deals from December 2019 to January 2020. It’ll likely be the same this year, with retailers using sales to entice those with health-related New Year’s resolutions.

2. Bedding

When to buy: In January

Why: December and January should have similar numbers of bedding deals, but if nothing catches your eye this month, watch for white sales 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.

3. Winter clothing

When to buy: In January

Why: Again, December and January could have similar numbers of clothing deals, but January will probably be a better time to hunt for winter clothing. Retailers will be trying to clear out stock of coats, gloves, scarves, and other cold-weather gear to make room for spring apparel.

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