Spread Love All Year

by Rachael Moshman

Valentine’s Day is by the far the best holiday clearance. Christmas stuff has Santas and trees all over it; Halloween has bats, pumpkins, ghosts and witches. These items scream “holiday leftovers!” Most Valentine’s items – with hearts, love birds and cute animals – can be used all year. They will make friends, coworkers and family members feel special any day. Slip some conversation hearts into your significant other’s pocket or sneak a stuffed toy in your child’s bed before you turn out the lights.

Here are the clearance items that are easiest to use all year.

Food:

Foods with Valentine’s packaging are usually on clearance after the holiday. I’ve scored Oreos, graham crackers, fruit snacks, popcorn and granola bars – all great snacks for my daughter’s lunchbox. I’ve even used coupons with some of these items, making them free or close to it.

Photo frames:

I bought several pink frames after Valentine’s Day for a baby shower gift. They were less than a dollar each and looked adorable in the nursery for my friend’s baby girl. You also can repaint the frames or use them for a craft project.

Baking goods:

Score red and pink spatulas and oven mitts or heart shaped silicone pans for cheap. Also look for cake mixes, icing, sprinkles, food coloring and cupcake liners. 

Toiletries:

Look for body wash, lip gloss, lotion, nail polish, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste in holiday packaging.

Clothing:

Adorable tights, T-shirts, pajamas, leggings, socks and tutus are often available after V-Day. I bought love-themed underwear for my husband one year. A selection of costume jewelry is also usually on clearance.

Toys:

Stock up on coloring books, die cast cars, small dolls and action figures. Use them as stocking stuffers next Christmas, to supplement birthday gifts or to fill Easter baskets.

Paper products:

Pick up napkins, paper plates, paper cups and plastic utensils. Pull them out when you’re too tired to deal with washing dishes. 

Linens:

You can really score big on linens after Valentine’s Day. I’ve come across sheet sets, blankets, throw pillows, towels and washcloths. My daughter loves the pink heart bedding set I snagged for 70 percent off. 

Valentine’s cards:

I once bought 10 boxes of Valentine’s cards for a dime each. However, I wasn’t interested in the cards. Each box contained 24 pencils. That was 240 pencils for a buck. Other boxes contained candy, rubber bracelets, temporary tattoos and seed packets.

Candy:

Fun-size bags of candy are great for school parties. The candy can also be used in birthday party treat bags or Easter baskets. If you can’t get past the love-inspired wrappers, use the chocolate to bake cookies, brownies and other treats.  

Start checking stores that sell Valentine’s items on Feb. 15. Ask the store manager for the markdown schedule. Some stores offer discounts as much as 90 percent off the week after Valentine’s Day. 
Think how loved your kids will feel on the first day of summer when they wake up to a heart-shaped muffins served on paper plates of the same shape. Valentine’s clearance lets you add an extra dose of love everyday all year long, for pennies on the dollar.