Christmas Gifts: Worst and Best Buys

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Champagne: The best month to buy champagne — and sparkling wines in general — is December, he says. "It's surprising. You'd think it would be the worst month, because champagne is in demand. But there's fierce competition between wine makers and between retailers. Stores lower prices to get people to come in."

NFL Tickets: By December, Di Vincenzo says, you usually know if your team is going to make the playoffs. If it's not, you can find very reasonably priced tickets for December home games.

Wedding dresses: "What often happens," explains Di Vincenzo, "is that people get proposed to at Christmas or on New Year's Eve" There's a January rush to bridal shops, so dress prices are high then, he points out.

"For people who already know they're going to get married, buying a dress between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a great time. The bridal shops are stocking up; they're much less crowded than in January, and they're looking for a way to boost their year-end results. Plus, you can do some negotiating; the markup on wedding dresses is so high that prices are rarely firm."

Travel to Europe: Disneyworld may be hopping in December, and airline tickets to Florida hard to afford. But December flights to Europe are a steal, says Di Vincenzo. "Most people want to stay home at Christmas. And business people aren't traveling." Result: airlines cut prices, especially on business seats. "I know of cases where people have flown to Europe business class at Christmas for the same price that other people, flying at other times, have had to pay for coach."

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