Everyone has one (or two) of them in his family: The official holiday spirit monitor. Always pulling out the precious collectibles (whether that's emotional or monetary value should be left to another blog post). The bad news? Their houses are virtual minefields for little children, or the more clumsy among us. The good news? It's always really easy to shop for them. In fact, that good news can also be bad news when you're browsing in thrift shops and see the display of vintage Santas or artsy menorahs. Surely Aunt/Grandma/Mom/Uncle Kelly would love those!

Wait. Don't take that Father Christmas, complete with swan and gold accents, down from that high shelf! Can you get it for the same price (or less) at those after-Christmas sales? Probably. You'll think it's just the thing in the thrift store in October, but play patience and wait until December 27th. You'll get it for a great reduction -- most stores sell merchandise after the holidays for 70% to 90% off -- and without those character-adding chips and missing fingers. What's more, you can bask in the satisfaction of not having been taken in like all the eager souls who paid full price.

And just think how much Aunt/Grandma/Mom/Uncle Kelly will appreciate having a nice box, complete with styrofoam inserts, to store it in.

This post was written as part of a series on how to thrift shop smarter. Read more on what to buy, and not to buy, at thrift stores.

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