Big Decorations for free
But don't despair! It is worth it to ask a manager to see if those decorations are up for grabs. Tell them your story and your situation and sometimes it will get you somewhere. At another unnamed retail shop the same year as the Banana Republic sailboat I saw some really huge oversized ornaments that were shiny green and red. I asked the manager if I could have them once the season was over and she told me that "No" officially she could not give them to me. I mentioned that I was a music teacher and that those would make the perfect backdrop props and she smiled and told me about how much she loved music in elementary school. Then she took my email and said that she would hold them for me and even deliver them to my school when they were off the sales floor as long as I didn't tell corporate. :D
It never hurts to ask. If you see something you like in a store, make inquiries. Everyone in retail is taking down holiday decorations now or in the next week or two, so go out and get looking!
It Never Hurts to Ask
One of my favorite "just ask" moments was when I asked the Facebook world where they bought strips of magnet. I needed some magnet strips or magnet sheets to complete a manipulative/activity I was working on for my second graders. Out of the blue a friend from church choir messaged me and said that the credit union where she worked might have something I would like. Every year they give out little magnetic calendars as a gift to their clients. They were flat and about the size of a 4x6 photograph and the entire back of the calendar was a flat magnet. They give them out throughout the year but now it was December and the magnets had become useless. There was a huge box of magnets they had not been able to give away during the year and they would just gladly give to me. Score! They cut the name of the credit union off of the magnet and gave the rest to me. This saved me tons of money on sheet magnets and was a gift that I didn't even know to ask for. I used them for the project and have lots of these little gems left over for future projects! Go and check with your local bank branches, credit union, or anyone else who might have magnets to share!
Odds and Ends -- Worth taking a look!
Hot Spots: The Perfect Place
That said, you could easily blow $100 on a cartful of nothing if you don't limit yourself and ask "would I really use this?" or "can I honestly use this in the way that I was thinking?" Go in with an open mind but be sure to stop and rethink before you wheel your cart out of the aisle. Nearly every time I traipse into the clearance aisle I pull four or five things OUT of my cart before I walk away. Don't buy uselessly.
Thinking ahead -- Programs on the Horizon
For instance, I knew about this time last year that I wanted to do the holiday program "Fiesta: The Legend of the Poinsettia," an amazing little mini-musical that teaches the Mexican folk tale of the Poinsettia plant. There had been two mini-musicals I was debating doing and when I chose the other I put "Fiesta" on the backburner and planned to use it the following year. This was great for several reasons: I could start planning out what I would need for props/scenery, I could think ahead to how the program cycle would fit into my yearly schedule, and I could begin to look for cheap and super discounted decorations. You can bet that at Cinco de Mayo (and the following clearance) I cashed in and bought cheap. I could even do this a little with Valentine's Day decorations and buy a bunch of discounted sparkly red garland to pack away and pull out for program time.
I completely envy those of you who get musical and props and accessories paid for by your school or PTA. I'm stuck here asking for copy paper on DonorsChoose and buying Expo markers out-of-pocket. For those of us who do spend more of our own money, planning this far out helped me space out my purchases and buy what I needed at a time when things were cheap.
So, are you going to do an ocean-themed show sometime this/next year? Shop for blue twinkle lights now when they're on sale. Going to do a multi-cultural festival next year? Get your discounted menorahs and tannenbaums and nativity scenes now. Think ahead and pick up your cheap/clearance garland, lights, ornaments, decorations, and lots more while you can!
ONe last Thing: Sale Pointers and Tips
And before I go... last year I wrote two whole blog posts about what to buy, where, and why during the post-holiday rush. Check out these posts to read about cheap electronic helpers, decorations, computer accessories, and lots more!
After Christmas Sales What to look for and what to buy!
After Christmas Sales Article Take 2