Archive for August 13th, 2011

August 13, 2011

Hallmark on a Budget

I’m totally in a Christmas mood lately. It doesn’t help that the weather has dropped 20 degrees, or that I’ve been getting advertisements this past month for a “Black Friday in July” and two early Christmas decorations sales (also, coincidentally starting in July). I am so ready for the hot coco and fuzzy socks! One of the summer Christmas activities is the release of the hallmark ornaments. They usually have quite a few adorable ones.

Of course, my favorite time to buy ornaments is the after Christmas sale at Hallmark stores. 50%-66% off and no shipping costs? Count me in! We got our tree topper last year for 50% off that way. I tend to visit the store periodically to ensure there’s enough stock of the ornaments I’m interested in that I will be able to get them in an after Christmas sale. If it starts to become hard to find, I’ll strike early, but only when I’m confident it won’t be available afterwards. Waiting for the after Christmas store is common, so I recommend shopping no later than a day or two after Christmas. We also visit multiple Hallmark stores to get the most selection. What’s popular at one store may not have been so popular at another. Usually the “after Christmas sales” will be after Christmas, but some of the non gold crown stores will discount their ornaments a day or two before Christmas. Traditionally, I have the best luck at these stores. I always have “new” holiday decorations that I purchased in after holiday sales. Sure they’ve been sitting in storage for a year, but their still “new” to us.

Ebay and Amazon are a great place for older ornaments. The selection is better on Ebay, but you can occasionally find better discounts on amazon. (I imaginary some of the sellers on amazon may not be collectors and not aware that buyers might be willing to pay more.) I’ve found major scores, adorable snow men and sleighs for 50-90% off the original list price, but the cost of shipping can bring the total price back the in-store price at Hallmark. If you buy a couple from the same store, you can get a discount on shipping. I will occasional buy from one seller who lists the ornament for slightly more in order to get a discount on the shipping. After all, it doesn’t matter how much of the bill goes to the seller and how much to the post office, it’s all money out of my pocket.

Series ornaments can also be expensive, especially if (like me) you feel compelled to complete the set. I bought the 2009 first in series Seasons’s Treatings ornaments, because it was too adorable not to. I’m hoping they’ll do cinnamon rolls like Grandma used to make. Nothing is says Christmas like cinnamon rolls. The 2010 and 2011 ornaments are not really my style, but all the ornaments in the series have a date on them in plain view. If I only purchase a couple Season’s Treatings, the missing date will bug me. I didn’t want to run the risk of ornament being unavaliable in an after Christmas store, so I bought it in store rather than wait for the after Christmas sale “just in case”. Not the most frugal things to do, especially given that I don’t really like them. If an ornament from the series doesn’t have a date in plain view, I feel free to get only the ornaments I like and no one will be the wiser. I prefer dateless ornaments for this reason. It’s like I’m creating my own series by picking and choosing which ones I buy.

2006 Merry Kitchen Magic & 2007 King of the Grill.

There are lots of singleton ornaments that appear like they belong together in a set – especially his and hers type ornaments like Merry Kitchen Magic and King of the Grill. You’ll generally have to purchase them from a reseller, since they typically come out in different years. It also feels somewhat more unique to create your own set, since they weren’t marketed that way. Other possibilities for creating your own set – Snow Much Fun to Cook & Grillin and Chillin, Cookie Doe and Good Grillings Deer Can you tell I’m a baker and my husband is a griller? There are others for different hobbies, you just have to search.

Popular/rare ornaments are expensive, especially mint still in the box, but you can sometimes find good deals on slightly used ornaments. Why pay for Mint In Box (MIB) if you’re going to put them on your tree? Over the years of use, you will scuff the ornament yourself. If you’re not a “collector”, or like me, not a serious collector, even the box becomes optional. After all, the idea is to decorate my tree, not to have a pretty collection of boxes. If an ornament is typically $20 or more for MIB on ebay, you can usually get 10%-30% off for like new. I’m always weary of the MIB label anyway. The last MIB I ordered had an ornament hook attached to it which had scratched the ornament.

I’m totally going to be the mother who buys the “Babies First Christmas” in an after Christmas sale one day. Here’s hoping my future kids forgive me.