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Nine ways to save on seasonal items

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  • Reduce wrapping costs by topping presents with yarn instead of ribbon
  • Send holiday post cards to save on postage
  • Stock up on wine by the case to present as hostess gifts
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Real Simple

(Real Simple) -- Follow these tips to keep your wallet (and your holidays) happy.

Mailing flat rate pays off when you ship heavier items.

Mailing flat rate pays off when you ship heavier items.

Mail flat rate for heavier items. Choose this two- to three-day shipping option (for domestic destinations) from the U.S. Postal Service and pay the same amount regardless of box weight. For example, sending an 11-by-8 1/2-by-5 1/2-inch box from New York to California costs $9.80, whether it weighs 20 pounds or 70.

Send out holiday postcards. If you choose the standard 4 1/4-by-6-inch size, you'll save 15 cents a card (using a 27 cent stamp instead of a 42 cent one).

Say so long to expensive wrapping paper. Cover your gifts with butcher paper (about $16 for 500 feet) instead of "designer" paper (about $30 for 30 feet). Real Simple: Gift wrapping strategies

Stock up on wine by the case to present as hostess gifts. Most retailers offer a 10 percent discount on larger orders; just ask the next time you're at a wine shop. Some will even let you mix different brands in one box. Real Simple: Food and wine crash course

Top gifts with yarn. Pass on the $10-a-yard ribbon options and score a huge bundle of yarn-more than 70 yards-for just $2 to $6.

Stick with serving a signature punch or cocktail. Stocking a full bar can be quite costly-around $265 for wine, beer, liquors, and mixers to serve 25 guests.

Ditch disposable stemware. It may seem cheap (about $10 for 10 Champagne flutes), but the price of plastic can really add up, since you'll have to buy it for each party. Instead, visit a restaurant-supply store (check your Yellow Pages to find the nearest one). You'll find reusable glass stemware for around $1 a glass.

Search Craigslist.org. People who have just moved often give away large boxes (perfect for a dollhouse or a tricycle) through the site.

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