I am not a great shopper. I have girlfriends who are – they can zoom in and spot the right things to buy at the right places right away. I have an amazing sister-in-law that has her holiday cards AND her holiday shopping wrapped up by what seems like the the first hint of christmas decorations in the stores (so, that would be, what November 1 these days?). I know myself enough to know I’ll never be one of them…le sigh…
Over the years, I’ve also gone back and forth between completely ignoring the shopping frenzy of “Black Friday” -and interestingly, I’m more likely to tune out completely the years that I actually live in the US. I would never have the patience to stand in line at some random hour in the morning, and the mall is absolutely too bonkers for my sanity on that day. I just don’t seem to see what people feel like they have to buy “that day” as opposed to any other day. Plus, when we live in the states, it’s the bonus of two days off from work during a busy time of year, and I don’t want to share those days with a bunch of other strangers. I want to share them with my family.
But at the same time, I’ve also learned that there is a formula that seems to work for me to not get swamped in the crazy, but also not miss out on things that will inevitably sell out…or not arrive on time when I order them later…or make me feel like I should have paid a wee bit less for them…and I’ve also noticed that there are some things that I regularly need, but never go on sale but for this one time a year. So I’ve compiled a short list of things that actually are worth a bit of time over the holiday weekend.
I don’t spend a lot of time on it, and I do it entirely online. I usually put a few items in my basket in the week or so leading up to this weekend, and then when the sales hit, check out all in one go over a coffee in the morning, or a nice glass of port in the evening. I set a time limit and go – what gets bought, gets bought and we can be merry, and what doesn’t will just have to wait for another occasion. After all, this isn’t the only sale between now and the end of the holidays, but if you can get your ducks in a row, here are 8 places where it’s likely to pay off.
1. Net-A-Porter Semi-Annual Sale
Why: Because it’s decadence on a discount – this is the special stuff…the shoes you know will last 10 years; that LBD suspect will last even longer or the little splurge of a present for yourself. This is when the designer stuff goes down in ways that actually matter (i.e. 50%) and the longer you wait, the less chance there is of something actually being in your size.
2. Ann Taylor 50% off Sale (Code: CELEBRATE)
Why: Because this is the perfect place for two things: holiday sparkle and black pants. For the first one, the good stuff here alway sells out, always. So no point in waiting – especially since you’re not going to get better than 50% off anytime soon. If you need a little glitter for an office party here, or a little sequin for New Year’s there, this is the time. Plus, as it’s holiday season, the more uses you can find for these seasonal items, the lower the cost per wear. For the black pants, you know you need them. And Ann Taylor makes reliable ones that fit, that travel well, that launder well and that aren’t too precious if you lose/ruin/spill/snag/your baby vomits on them. Find your favorite pair and get two.
3. Madewell 25% off Sale (Code: CALMDOWN)
Why: Because it’s the best mom jean out there. And if you have had children and struggle to find a jean that doesn’t ride down half of your derriere, while still delivering decently on the cool/chic/hip factor, you know what I’m talking about. Actually if you are over the age of 30, even without children, you probably know what I’m talking about. Who knew, but this retailer that otherwise specializes in hipster twenty somethings, has basically come up with the best jean to cover that extra bit of belly that seems to never quite snap back to it’s former glory, no matter how many sit ups you do and motivational half marathons you sign yourself up for. And (you’ll notice a theme here), they almost never go on sale. Never – at least the classic washes don’t. The full-price price tag can sting a bit when this is your primary uniform for chasing kids in their natural elements, so this sale is a nice bit of reprieve. Davis, Atlantic and White are standards for me, but this season, I thought I’d also go a little rock and roll, and try the black coated jean as well. (Bonus, snagged this jumpsuit as well to change things up a bit in the wardrobe.)
4. J. Crew 30% off Sale (Code: HOLIDAY)
Why: Because there always seems to be something I need (or more correctly put, want) here so I try to keep a running list and stock up on items during these bigger sales (especially since this is one of the few times truly “everything” goes on sale including collection and collaboration pieces that are often in limited runs). J. Crew is usually pretty generous about “sales on sale” but less so with sales on newer arrival items. Normally I don’t mind waiting but again, when it’s something for the holidays, I find that if I wait, they are inevitably gone in my size and I can usually guess now what will be a sale item later on and what will go before then.
5. J. Crew Crewcuts 30% off Sale (Code: HOLIDAY)
Why: Because I’m a one-trick pony. If it works for me, it works for my daughter too. I love crewcuts for the special things that really bring out the color and pattern and quirkyness of the diplo-tot’s personality (my husband on the other hand, thinks my taste in crewcuts makes our daughter look like a cirque du soleil escapee). Similar to the above, I can usually tell from looking what will work for her, and what will never go on sale or not be in her size etc. Plus, as her birthday comes up in December, we usually need something a little fun for that. We also have nieces and all sorts of close little ones in her age that often ask where she gets item X or item Y so we buy a lot of gifts from crewcuts this time of year as well.
6. West Elm Shop More, Get More Sale (Code: MOREISMORE)
Why: Because I always underestimate how much I’ll need for guest rooms during the holidays. We get a lot of basic bedding and also pillows and accessories from here anyway. Unless we’re traveling ourselves for the holidays, our house always seems to be a centrum of guests coming through – especially this year in Copenhagen. So I try to see if I need extra bedding and other little sundries to make even the hallway or living room where we have to throw an air mattress or two feel like a nice guest room. We use a lot of air mattresses so it always helps to have a few extra sets of twin beddings and West Elm has great basics in that department.
7. Pottery Barn Holiday Sale
Why: Because inevitably I wait too long to order things like that extra christmas stocking or christmas tree skirt or the few things I was thinking about for the mantle/door/whatever this year. Our diplomatic mail in the holiday season is slow and especially if you want anything personalized (like some of their frames, gifts, stockings, etc) the lead time is always longer than I think. Plus, when this stuff comes earlier, again, you can enjoy it longer. So if you have any holiday sundries you need for around the house, this is the time (plus, they have great bedding too – see point above).
8. Minted Holiday Card + Gifts 25% off Sale (Code: BF2015)
Why: Because you can spare yourself some grief and just. get. it. done. Seriously. Order the cards, you know you need them. They will not get cheaper and they will not magically do themselves if you wait longer (btw, are you a procrastinator like I am? then this post on Tips for Stressless Holiday Cards will help). And while you’re at it, order your 2016 wall calendar and any party decorations that you need. Especially again if you live abroad, lead time is longer than you think it is so even this is pushing the envelope a bit, but you’ll be happy when they arrive to you all neatly packaged and ready for mailing!
So those are my go-to’s most seasons, though they are by no means the only sales out there. I would go nuts if I shopped all of them (not to mention bankrupt) so I focus on the key areas that I know work for me. But depending on who’s on my gift list, I might also check out:
- Baby Gap, for kiddie basics and holiday wear (all of Gap is 50% off with “GAPFRIDAY” in US or “FRIDAYGAP” in EU – believe it or not, as much as normally we get rained on for commercialism in the US, you wouldn’t guess how often I get asked by Europeans when they can get in on the Black Friday madness – well, Gap is giving you the green light this year!)
- Gilt, for deals in the children’s section, especially on classic toys or Spanish children’s wear
- Neiman Marcus, for dresses, shoes or needed holiday wear
- Loft, ditto to Ann Taylor for black pants and the occasional party piece (Code: BF40 for 40% off)
- Bloomingdales, for same as above and restocking any homeware needs like platters or crystal
- Williams-Sonoma, for restocking any kitchen ware, pots, etc
Happy Shopping! Or, if you bypass it all, happy relaxing! And for the clever, happy both of those!