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4 ways you can get last-minute deals and save money on the holidays

Twenty/20

Even celebrities love getting a bargain. This holiday season, reality TV star and entrepreneur Kylie Jenner took to her YouTube channel to share her Christmas décor.

While fans might expect Jenner to have nothing but luxe items, she revealed that she purchased most of her decorations from an ordinary big-box store: "I got most of my stuff from Target."

If you're looking to save on holiday décor, the last minute may actually be the the best time to buy: "You can get lots of great deals right now simply because the retailers are trying to clear [holiday] merchandise out," says Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at True Trae.

Here are four tips for scoring last-minute deals on holiday decorations or party supplies.

1. Use a deal-tracking site

During the week leading up to Christmas, retailers are trying to get rid of holiday items in time for the new year. That means you'll find plenty of sales. To save time and streamline your shopping, use a site that collects coupons and discount codes all in one place.

"So you're not sitting looking through all the circulars that are in your mailbox and looking around online, use a coupon site that displays the strongest deals available," says Bodge.

For example, if you're looking for a holiday light display, you can use a site like Offers.com, Clark Deals, and Slick Deals (which Bodge is affiliated with) to track prices on that specific product. "You can name that item in the deal alert and then you'll be notified when that item goes on sale," says Bodge. "That's a good way to kind of get out in front of it without digging around looking for things."

2. Buy your tree as close to Christmas as possible

Though it can be risky to wait until the last minute, prices on Christmas trees steadily fall the closer it gets to the holiday, Sara Vera, a data analyst at Square, a payment processing company, told Grow earlier this year.

Though you'll have less time to enjoy your tree, getting one last-minute can help offset the overall rise in price for Christmas trees. You can use Square's calculator to estimate the best day to buy your tree, based on where you live, how much money you want to spend, and how long you'd like your tree to last. Even a week out from Christmas, it's not too late.

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3. Buy appetizers and stocking stuffers in bulk

If you need to get small tokens or hostess gifts, or if you're gearing up for a holiday party, take advantage of your warehouse club membership, if you have one.

While warehouse stores offer year-round deals, they tend to have special bargains around the holidays, and you'll save time by getting most, if not all, of your holiday shopping done in one place. "I can grab everything I need for my holiday meals, groceries for visitors, and large boxes of chocolates that I can use for stocking stuffers and hostess gifts," says Andrea Woroch, a budgeting expert.

Costco's bakery and frozen sections, for example, can help you snag significant savings.

"For flavorful, affordable, and easy-to-serve options, "try potato-filled samosas, mini-spanakopitas, and spinach and egg tartlets," Kristin McGrath, a shopping expert at Offers.com told Grow earlier this year. If you're purchasing for a party and serving guests, you can get frozen foods. A 35-ounce pack of Sukhi's Mini Samosas is priced at just $17.79, or 51 cents per ounce.

4. Pay attention to extra costs and deadlines

When it comes to last-minute holiday shopping, you'll find at both brick-and-mortar stores and online. However, you may have to do a little bit of comparison shopping to figure out where you'll save the most.

Even if the sticker price for a particular item is better online, consider the high costs for expedited shipping that kick in right before the holidays. Ordering a set of holiday ornaments on December 21 to arrive by Christmas, on sale for $8.40 at Target, requires an expedited shipping fee of $10.00. That brings your total cost to $20 with estimated taxes and fees.

Paying more for shipping than the cost of the item itself isn't a smart financial move. If you have the time and are willing to brave the lines, you're better finding the same item in-store and saving that $10.

Finally, pay attention to delivery deadlines for items purchased online. A last-minute deal that doesn't arrive in time for the holiday isn't such a good deal after all.

"Amazon prime members have until December 22 to order and get free two-day delivery, while December 23 is the last day for free one-day delivery," says Bodge.

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