The Best and Worst Things to Buy in December

2015 Los Angeles Times
Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesA Black Friday shopper in Costa Mesa, Calif.

December is a month when most people can't avoid shopping. You may have skipped Black Friday, 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.

And while you're at it, consider subscribing to the DealNews Select Newsletter to get a daily recap of all our deals. You can also download the DealNews app for mobile savings.

Shop for Toys During the Mid-Month Sweet Spot

Black Friday and Cyber Monday were extremely good for toy deals this year, but the sales won't end there. We typically see a high number of toy sales during the middle two weeks of December. Moreover, the ratio of deals that feature Editors' Choice prices increases significantly during this time as well. The first week of December last year featured 27 percent Editors' Choice deals, while the following week had 42 percent.

For 2015, we recommend shopping Dec. 7 through Dec. 20. Whatever you do though, don't wait until the week of Christmas. The number of discounts drops off significantly and many of the offers are of lesser quality.

Keep an Eye Out for Gift Card Freebies

A popular promotion throughout the month of December -- especially amongst 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, such as L.L.Bean, which 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 our tips on how you can save money on these cards, read our guide.

Tools and Hardware Deals for Dad

Does Dad want a new drill for Christmas this year? Perfect! December is an excellent time for tool and hardware deals. Typically the number of sales on tools is about a third higher than average and the total Editors' Choice-caliber promos will double. Look for significant discounts on drills, wrenches, general tool sets and more.

It's a Jolly Time to Buy Christmas Decorations ... After Christmas

At this point, it's common knowledge that holiday decorations see their greatest discounts after the holiday in question has passed and this is no different for Christmas. If you wait until Dec. 26, you'll see discounts of 40 to 75 percent off seasonal goods. However, if you absolutely must buy a fake Christmas tree before the 25th, look to Target, Sears and Home Depot for inexpensive options. Also, keep in mind that any seller with fresh-cut trees is likely going to start discounting them around Dec. 20.

Stock Up on Kitchen Items for More Holiday Cooking

Although November saw a great number of excellent cookware and kitchen deals, our data shows that they should continue into December. About one in four kitchen deals in December will be of Editors' Choice caliber, including cutlery sets, cookware and bakeware, small appliances and more. Amazon will lead the charge with these deals, offering about a third of the total sales for the month.

For Some Electronics, Wait Until 2016 Models Debut

At this point, if you're interested in tech that typically gets updated around the time of the Consumer Electronics Show -- high-end laptops and fancy TVs, for example, tend to get unveiled at the show -- then you might be better served waiting until the 2016 models are announced. This way, 2015 models will start to hit record low prices. (Of course, not everything follows this cycle; smartphones tend to be announced in late spring, while Apple products keep their own individual annual schedule.)

There Will Be Fewer Sales on Eggs

While it's true that egg prices have dropped slightly in recent weeks, they hit a record high in September due to an outbreak of avian flu over the summer. According to Bloomberg Business, the epidemic wiped out 32 million egg-laying chickens. While prices are rebounding incrementally, analysts believe there will be fewer supermarket promotions on eggs this month than there were this time last year. That means shoppers will be stuck paying full-price more often than not. Read about other foods that might experience fluctuating prices.

Snag a Car Deal on New Year's Eve

The end of the calendar year is generally a good time period to buy a car, as dealerships are eager to clear out old inventory. But found that Dec. 31 specifically tends to see the strongest average discounts of the year. In 2013, New Year's Eve saw an average discount of 8.8 percent off. There are other ways to maximize your savings too, including tips for effective negotiation.

Ready to put this information to use? Sign up for the DealNews Select Newsletter or download the DealNews app in order to keep abreast of any and all of these best buys in December.
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