As we head into the most indulgent time of the year, it's easy to blow your budget. People planned to spend an average of $882 on the holidays last year alone, according to the American Research Group's annual survey.
But a little planning throughout the fall will not only keep you on budget through the holidays – you can even savesome money.
Stock up on these seven holiday items now and let your credit card rest until the new year:
7 holiday items to buy now
7 holiday items to buy now
1. Festive decor: The summer wedding season is officially over, and that means you stand to save big on decor, accessories, favors and more before vendors reset for the holidays. Keep an eye out for evergreen items (pun intended), such as metallic table accents, crystal candlesticks and white servingware, which transition beautifully from a summer wedding to a winter party.
2. Wine: Wineries are busiest during the fall harvest and typically ramping up to distribute their best wines of the year. This means two things: You can find steep markdowns on last year's labels, and there is typically more product available, which can lead to better deals when you buy in bulk. Take advantage by stockpiling a few cases now, and sip on those savings all holiday season long
3. Cookware: We're on the brink of one of the busiest cooking times of the year, and smart retailers know you're going to need kitchen accessories and electronics to prep your holiday feast. They're offering steep discounts, hoping that you'll purchase more than you need (and maybe cross off a few items from your gift list while you're at it). Keep an eye out for "secret" coupon codes offered on Facebook and Twitter, or those 10 percent to 15 percent offers from something as simple as email sign-up. You can always unsubscribe in the new year.
4. Digital cameras: You're going to want to capture the lights, parties and family time that make the holidays so special, and there's no better way to do that than with a snazzy digital camera. Retailers are looking to offload older models to make room on their shelves for the newer ones that typically come out in time for holiday shopping, so now is the time to get some great deals. Bonus: Digital cameras make great presents, too.
5. Toys: This one seems counterintuitive, but many retailers start offering discounts on gift items like toys earlier in the fall to whet customers' appetites, hoping they'll be back for more once holiday shopping is officially underway. Stock up on gifts for kids now, and you won't even need to make that second trip.
6. Winter clothing: Winter is a tricky season for many retailers, especially in parts of the country where it's just a three-month (albeit frigid) season. By the time winter is over, the last thing customers want is to buy another coat on sale. Nope – they're onto spring instead. As a result, there's a pretty short season in which to offload last year's winter line to make room for a new one, and that time is – you guessed it – September and October. Load up on everything you need for the cold months ahead (coats, hats, mittens and more) beforethe temperatures drop, and you'll score some hot savings.
7. Airfare: If you're planning to travel during the holidays, now is the time to lock in those flights. Prices rise and selection drops the closer we get to Thanksgiving, so book now for your choice of flights for less. Use a fare tracker, such as Hipmunk or Kayak, to monitor rates. They'll even send you an email alert when the flight you're looking for hits the lowest price.