Got a trunk-load of holiday returns? Take back those ties, cologne and panini makers and make some practical purchases instead.

Here are the 5 best buys for January.

-In the past, bed linens were available in one color—white—and sales on sheets and towels took place primarily in January. Now bedding is available in more patterns and colors than our grandmothers could have imagined and stores discount merchandise year round. But the tradition of January white sales continues. This month is a great time to shop for sheets, blankets, towels, comforters, tablecloths, electric blankets, pillows and more.

-Don’t ignore the bins of marked-down holiday gift wrap and candles. With a little digging, you’ll uncover merchandise in white, green, gold and other solid colors that can be used any time.

-Planning to redecorate? New furniture appears on showroom floors in February, which means big sales on past-season merchandise this month, says Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of public relations and marketing for American Home Furnishing Alliance.

-The annual Consumer Electronics Show takes place in early January in Las Vegas, which means new cameras, televisions and other electronics will be appearing on store shelves in the spring. Now is the time to pick up last year’s models at discounted prices.

-If Santa dropped an engagement ring into your stocking this holiday season, savvy scheduling can help you avoid saying “I do” to a high-priced wedding. Plan your ceremony and reception (or any other event) for next January, February or March—the wedding industry’s slow season—and you’ll cut costs on facilities, flowers, entertainment and catering.

 

(c) 2010, By K. Vann, The Hartford Courant