Every month of the year, certain items are discounted due to overstock, holiday sales, or transitions from one season to the next. Here are the shopping highlights for December in Seattle-Tacoma area stores.
Gifts & Gift cards
You can save by buying gift cards at a discount or by reaping the benefits of other offers and deals. Here’s a big list at our sister site, LivingontheCheap.com:
PJs, Slippers, and Bath Robes
A classic family gift, pajamas and other bedtime clothes such as slippers and bath robes are gifts under many Christmas trees. There’s lots of selection and prices are generally good. However, if you aren’t in need of a gift, you’ll find steep discounts on these items after Christmas, though the selection dwindles.
Team Football Gear
As the season comes to an end, retailers start discounting logo gear for your favorite NFL team, including shirts, scarves, socks, and more.
December is one of the best months of the year to buy jewelry (the other is early April). So, it’s a good time to buy gifts for the holiday as well as a gift for Valentine’s Day.
December is one of the best months to buy toys for both selection and price, though leftovers will be discounted in January. And summer toys are usually best purchased either ahead of summer (April-June) or during summer closeouts. In December, you might want to think ahead to birthday presents and stock up now on toys you know your kids will want.
Electronics (aka big people toys)
New models hit the market in January after the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, making December a good month to buy many types of electronics in stores and online, especially outgoing models on TVs, phones, cameras, and video games. There should be another sale in February on closeouts for outgoing models, but the selection is generally lower.
Fresh cut Christmas trees
The best time to save on a fresh cut Christmas tree is December 20 or later.
Before Christmas, keep an eye out for Thanksgiving and autumn-themed décor at steep discounts and stock up for next year.
Sales of leftover Christmas begin a few days before Christmas. Find discounts on everything from lights and ornaments to artificial trees and Christmas greeting cards, gift wrap and bows, and other holiday home décor. Prices are slashed further the day after Christmas and again about a week later, though selection greatly diminishes the farther away you get from December 26.
Citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon, orange, pomelo, tangerine, clementine, kumquat, etc.) are in season during winter, from November to April, coming from California and Florida.
Specific types of citrus fruit ripen at different times. For example, grapefruit tend to ripen all season long, navel oranges ripen before Valencia oranges, and Meyer lemons ripen mid-season.
Fresh citrus fruit lasts longest when stored in cool (40°F to 50°F), dry (60 to 70 percent RH) conditions; place in a basket to allow for good air circulation and to prevent mold growth. In the refrigerator (<40°F), store citrus in the vegetable bin or in a plastic bag to prevent it from drying out.
Buy citrus by the case if you have room to store in the refrigerator. Citrus will keep one to four weeks, depending on variety (firmer varieties such as oranges and grapefruits keep longer than squishier varieties such as tangerines).
Check citrus fruits every couple of days and feel for soft spots on the rind—a sign the citrus is starting to spoil, so consume within a day or two. Discard any fruit that becomes moldy.
If you think you can’t eat it up before it spoils, trying making fruit leather. Fruit leathers are made from fruit purées that are spread thin, and then dried until they become supple, leatherlike sheets of chewy fruit. The sheets are usually rolled up and individually wrapped for storage.
Citrus fruit is watery when puréed, so combine it with other fruits such as banana, figs, or pear. Try dried banana-lime, fig-orange, and persimmon- or pear-lemon fruit leather. It may be necessary to cook the fruit puree to thicken it slightly before drying—you want to start with a puree that is the thickness of applesauce.
Preheat an oven or food dehydrator to 130°F to 140°F. Using plastic wrap or parchment paper, line the dehydrator trays. Spread purée 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch thick on the liner. Dry leather until evenly pliable and firm; there should be no soft spots when pressed in the center. Peel leather from the liner while still warm. Cut or roll into serving pieces. Cool 30 minutes, or until no longer warm. Wrap individually, and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Other fresh fruits special to this time of year include fresh cranberries, pomegranates, and persimmons.
Also look for dried Japanese-style persimmon known as hoshigaki, available in winter through spring at Uwajimaya Asian Grocery in Seattle, Bellevue, and Renton. Look for hoshigaki in the produce department. At first glance, you might think the dried fruit has gotten moldy, when in fact, these dried fruits are naturally coated with their own fruit sugar. Inside the fruit is dense, like a dried date or plump Turkish-style dried apricot. The dried persimmon is moist, chewy, and satisfyingly sweet without being cloying. It makes a great accompaniment to afternoon tea.
Vegetables in plentiful supply include sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squashes, root vegetables (carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets, rutabagas), wild mushrooms, and winter greens (broccoli raab, escarole, kale, radicchio). Great for roasted vegetables or hearty soups.
Baking ingredients including butter, sugar, flour, nuts, chocolate tend to be plentiful and there are some deals to be had. If you have some freezer space, stock up on baking supplies you might need through spring for family, entertaining, or school bake sales. One item that’s often not on sale is eggs, because supplies tend to be lower in winter months.
Meats, especially big ticket roasted meats such as beef rib roast, whole turkeys, and whole ham are plentiful. So keep an eye on prices and put some away in the freezer. Prices especially drop right after Christmas as retailers start to clear out excess stock. Keep in mind you can cut large roasts into smaller portions to use for family meals at substantial savings: cut rib roasts into steaks, cut turkeys into quarters, and cut large hams into smaller roasts or slices.
If you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve party or want to stock up on some bubbly for a holiday dinner or a few hostess gifts for events throughout the season, December is a great time to buy champagne and sparkling wine. You can find bottles from $10-$30 or of course a lot more.
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