The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

December 27, 2007

How to Tell When Your Holiday Has Overstayed its Welcome

Filed under: Cooking, Culture, shopping — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 1:33 pm

(Note:  This is a crosspost of an item I wrote over at

As you might have noticed if you did any shopping yesterday, it’s after-Christmas markdown time at your friendly neighborhood Target store, or whatever other “great big box full of stuff” store you’ve got nearby.  On the shelves, all the various baubles and trinkets shine and sparkle just as brightly as ever, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they’ve literally gone out of style overnight. In spite of this, the great big “50% OFF” signs tell the tale. The Valentine’s Day stuff is moving in a week from now, and it’s time for the Christmas stuff to hit the road (or the closet as the case may be) for the next nine months. Next door at the recently opened Kohl’s store (which, oddly enough, replaced a Mervyn’s that closed about a year ago,) they’re even more emphatic: 70% off.

In theory, this would be the best time to stock up on assorted paraphanelia in anticipation of Christmases yet to come, but that leaves the problem of storage. Are those tremendous savings really worth filling up the closet for? Sure, if you’ve got a large crawlspace to put the stuff in (as my parents have) this isn’t a big deal, but since I live in an apartment that accumulates an ever increasing amount of clutter over time, this becomes an issue. Besides, it’s not like they won’t make more of the stuff when the next Holiday season rolls around, right? Right? Um…  Better go ahead and stock up, just to make sure.


On the other hand, it’s not just the Christmas decorations taking a quick trip to the bargain bin. As you wander the aisles, it seems like anything even remotely festive is getting the big markdown. This is most visible in the candy aisle, where it seems like everyone’s been wrapping their stuff in festive Holiday packaging since roughly five minutes after Dia de los Muertos ended. In many cases (such as the package of chocolate shown above) a few sprigs of holly printed on the package will save you a couple of bucks over the same product in the standard packaging, even though the individually wrapped squares inside are 100% identical. I stocked up on these, but I don’t know why, since I still have these left over from last year’s after-Christmas clearance sale. If I was a food snob I’d call it “vintage” and claim that 2006 was a good year for chocolate, but I’m pretty sure most food snobs wouldn’t bother with this stuff anyway.


Finally, we see shelves and shelves of these red “gift” boxes full of generic Chinese merchandise (Now with 50% more lead than the leading brand!) all with the obligatory markdown. Granted, none of this stuff is particularly expensive in the first place, but if you ever wondered if giving this stuff as gifts would make you look cheap when they were at “full” price, seeing all the prices slashed in half a day after Christmas wouldn’t do much to reassure you. Still, there might be a couple of useful items here and there, so it’s worth looking through the pile. You’d probably feel ripped off if someone gave you one of these as a gift (or vice versa,) but buy it yourself and it’s a bargain.

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