What to Buy and What to Skip in December


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smiling woman in red shirt and santa hat with shopping bags
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Holiday shopping is getting serious, and everything appears to be on sale. But savvy consumers know that seemingly ubiquitous discounting doesn't necessarily make this the best moment to make a purchase. What, then, should consumers buy in December?

Related: 10 Hot Holiday Gifts and How to Get Them for Less

Play Dough selection at a Toys "R" Us store
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Just don't rush out right away to buy all the goodies for under the tree. The best toy deals of the year are yet to come. Early to mid-December is historically the best time to buy -- right in the midst of the holiday shopping season and before last-minute shoppers drive prices back up.

couple in consumer electronics retail store looking at television to buy
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Black Friday is the best time to score deals on electronics, but December is still a great time to buy TVs. Ultra-high-definition 4K TVs are seeing major discounts this holiday shopping season. Shoppers looking for something cheaper can also snag a regular HDTV for a bargain price in December. Blu-ray movies and DVDs are reduced too.

mobile phone, laptop, printer, camera, and tablet
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Digital cameras, tablets, laptops, and the like are big holiday purchases for many folks but unfortunately not the best deals in December. The biggest discounts historically appear in November for Black Friday and again in January, when new models debut and the previous year's models are marked down.

light blue stand mixer
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Planning to spend a lot of time in the kitchen over the holidays? Kitchen items are typically marked way down in December. Even if you don't expect to cook much this season, a mixer makes a good gift for the in-laws.

battery wireless drill and screwdriver set
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Black Friday has proved in recent years to be the best time to buy tools. However, don't discredit December. The whole month is still an ideal time to buy tools -- particularly wrench, screwdriver, and drill sets -- for the handy people on your holiday shopping list.

beautiful mother and daughter buying Christmas decorations in store
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Dec. 26 is the time to start buying Christmas decor for next year. And if you haven't had enough Christmas candy by late December, pick some up for cheap.

man's hand giving gift card to woman's hand
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Many restaurants and some retailers looking to close out the year on a high note offer free gift cards to customers who spend a certain amount buying gift cards for others. A list compiled last December by DealNews shows the types of offers that shoppers can expect this year.

champagne in bucket on black background
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With New Year's Eve right around the corner, champagne drinkers have much to cheer about. December is the season of high demand but still the best time to stock up on cheap champagne, as stores vying for all that celebratory business lower their prices on the bubbly stuff.

wedding dresses hanging up
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Some big-ticket items are better buys than others in December. With the wedding season at a near standstill this month, dress vendors are looking to make a sale -- any sale -- so discounts abound.

woman show keys for your good property with real agency property
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If you're in the market for a new home, try to buy in December. Many sellers take properties off the market for the holidays, and those who don't are truly motivated, which means more negotiating leverage for buyers.

overhead view of car salesman showing new vehicle to customers
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December is also a good time to negotiate a deal on a car. With the year coming to an end, dealerships are ready to cut prices, and many offer exceptionally good deals on New Year's Eve.

fresh beet and carrots on wooden background
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When it comes to stocking the refrigerator, don't be fooled by the cold temperatures. Many fruits and vegetables are in season and cheap. Try incorporating beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, onions, potatoes, radishes, sweet potatoes, turnips, and winter squash into holiday dishes. Seasonal fruits include clementines, grapefruit, kiwi, lemons, limes, mandarins, oranges, pears, and tangerines.

homemade white holiday eggnog with a cinnamon stick
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National Pie Day, Eggnog Day, Candy Cane Day, Champagne Day, and Cookie Day all fall in December. Look for sales and treat yourself or pick up these seasonal favorites for cheap to share at holiday parties.

treadmills in a gym
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With many people making New Year's resolutions to lose weight, gyms have no incentive to discount memberships. Better to wait until the weather gets nice again and people take their workouts outside.

Related: 10 Ways to Work Out at Home and Stay Motivated

OutdoorMaster Ski Goggles PRO
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As a general rule of thumb, most products are discounted when they go out of season. Items such as skis and snow blowers are still very much in demand in December, so hold off on those.

window display at jewelry shop presenting necklace, rings, and earring sets
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Put off purchases of jewelry and watches in December. They're popular holiday gifts, so jewelers aren't hurting for business and are therefore less likely to feature deals or discounts.

Wantdo Men's Waterproof Mountain Jacket Fleece Windproof Ski Jacket
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Most winter clothing is still tagged at close to full price in December. Sure, prices may start to dip the day after Christmas, but that still isn't the best time to buy. Consider waiting until January or even February, when demand is down and retailers are eager to unload inventory, although the selection is more limited.

white sheets
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Linens aren't high on many gift-shopping lists, so they aren't typically on sale as the holidays approach. Many department stores host their annual white sales in January, so don't shop for linens and towels just yet.

showroom for retail of luxury armchairs
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Furniture is also a no-no in December. It's not until January that retailers get anxious to clear the showroom for new products released in February.

'In the City' Wall Calendar
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Retailers are well aware that most people want a calendar for next year before Jan. 1, so discounts are few and far between. For people who can briefly manage to stay organized without one, there are better deals in January.

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