This week's O.C. Bargainista will focus on last-minute gift ideas that still keep you from paying full price. Yes, the deals are out there — if you know where to look!
Give the gift of plastic money
Finding it difficult to evaluate all of the gift card bonus offerings this season? Many restaurants and movie theatres are offering a bonus card with purchase; look for offers that give at least a $10 bonus card for every $50 purchased (a few will offer $15 for every $50). But buyer beware: The bonus cards typically have to be used within two months after Christmas, so check the fine print. As an alternative, consider buying gift cards at local Costco stores, where one can buy two $50 gift cards to businesses like Spa Gregories or California Pizza Kitchen for $80. Visit costco.com.
Snap up the newest action figures
In need of a last-minute toy or gift for a tyke? Fear not — Toys"R"Us has announced it will be open 24/7 through Christmas, and is continuing to offer bargain-basement prices to lure in would-be shoppers. Visit toysrus.com.
Try Walgreens or CVS
Other stores to consider if you wake up at 3 a.m. and realize that you forgot to buy a gift for Great-Aunt Marge include local 24-hour pharmacies, which keep fully stocked gift aisles during the holiday season. The best local option is the 24-hour CVS at 1020 Irvine Ave., Newport Beach. It will be open Christmas Day as well; call for hours at (949) 642-0122. The closest 24-hour Walgreens, at 19001 Brookhurst St., Huntington Beach, also will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Day. Call (714) 593-1352.
For the jewelry maker in your life
Boo hoo – the Beading Place, 100 W. First St., Tustin, is shuttering. The store carries beads ranging from freshwater pearls to semiprecious stones, lampwork and Swarovski crystal, along with all the usual offerings, findings, reference materials, finished pieces and store fixtures. They're open from 10 a.m. to 2 pm. Friday; call for additional information at (714) 832-7185.
Beat everyone else at Christmas
Need musical instruments or equipment? Pro Music Exchange, 940 N. Main St., Orange, is closing its doors after 20 years, and is having its final liquidation sale. New guitars are $79 while they last; other offerings include $229 new drum sets, violins, cellos, trumpets, flutes, saxophones, sound systems, mixers, microphones and more. Call (714) 744-9762.
Start the new year with a new job
Freebie of the Week: Every year, the international job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas offers free general job search advice to anyone who calls them. Counselors also will be on-hand to speak with current and former military personnel. To participate, call (312) 422-5010 between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday or Tuesday.
Have a hot sale tip, or know about a great local business that you think deserves a little attention? Contact the O.C. Bargainista at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember — never pay retail!