Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Surviving Black Friday Shopping

I have to be honest today.

As much as I am looking forward to hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, I am looking forward to the day after Thanksgiving even more. I love to frolic with the bargain-happy masses, participating in Black Friday shopping.

What is Black Friday? Let me enlighten you...

The day after Thanksgiving is usually a huge day for retailers, who bend over backwards to get customers in their doors so they can make a profit, or be "in the black." Some people love to shop on Black Friday to save money on Christmas gifts. My friend Kelly saves hundreds of dollars on that 4th Friday in November. While that's certainly a plus for me, I tend to fall into a state of complete and utter bliss when I survey Target's finest wares and hear the cheery Christmas tunes they pump out over the loudspeakers. I'm a sucker for commercialism, it seems.

Here are a few tips to get you through the day if shopping isn't your favorite thing and you're braving Black Friday out of necessity. If you're a shopaholic like me, who doesn't mind the crowds, then these ideas will be icing on the cake to help you get through the day.

Have a Game Plan-
I like to keep a printed list of "who to buy for" in my wallet during the Christmas season.
(More on setting this up on another day) This is especially helpful on Black Friday, so you aren't caught on the accessories aisle in Macy's wondering, "Didn't I already buy Aunt Mabel a green sweater?"

I was trained by some of the finest shoppers the retail world has ever seen, but the thrifty side of Christmas shopping sometimes eludes me. My friend Kelly is an expert, and advised me to keep an eye on sales and coupons the week of Thanksgiving. You can do this by browsing your local stores' circulars (buy the Thursday paper!), or check out sites like www.blackfriday.info or blackfriday.net.

By comparing circulars to the sites' listings of store sales, you can make a good effort to find things on your list for excellent prices. I found some of the best deals on holiday decor at Target last year, and I plan to hit Hobby Lobby too.

Not into big box stores? That's okay...Wal-Mart sometimes gives me hives too. The area I live in has a beautiful "Olde Towne," with cute little boutiques lining the main street. Local shops like these have to compete with the big guys, and they often offer a free gift with purchase or some other incentive for shopping there on Black Friday. At best, you'll come away with some distinctive finds. At worst, you'll miss the mad rush on Barbie Jeeps on aisle 15 at Toys 'R Us.

What Not to Wear-
I love to dress in my cutest ensemble when I leave the house sans children (skinny jeans, anyone?), but Black Friday is not the day to debut your fabulous yet painfully uncomfortable purple ruffled booties...unless you want to pop Motrin all day. That said, you don't have to look like your three year old stylist dressed you. Wear something you know you'll be confident and comfortable in. Nice jeans, a sweater coat, a cute pair of flats, and some statement jewelry will go a long way.

Bring Reinforcements-
The conquest is so much more fun with friends or family. I loved shopping with my sister-in-law the year before last. We laughed at the frantic people standing outside Target at 5:30 a.m. while we sat in the toasty car and planned our morning. That being said, some members of the family are best left at home, and by "some members" I mean husbands and children. Unless you plan on doing some shopping for the kids with your significant other, have mercy on him and let him stay home and watch football while the kids trash the living room.

Listening to my children beg for crackers and Barbies and trying to keep them contained in a cart or stroller isn't really my thing, but if you're up for it don't say I didn't warn you. (This year, I plan on hitting a few stores before the rest of the family wakes up, and I may be forced to head back out with one or more children in tow if T won't sign on for kid duty. This could be disaster.)
(FYI, the blonde in the stroller is Natalie at age 2 1/2...I know what I'm talking about!)

Fuel Up-

Black Friday shopping is an excellent excuse to indulge in some Starbucks (may I suggest the Peppermint Mocha?) or a lunch out somewhere that does not have a playland outside the dining area. If stopping for coffee is not in the budget, bring a travel mug with a snack or two in your bag. Just be sure to keep your energy up so you don't pass out in the check-out lines. Speaking of check out lines...

You can be more efficient at check-out if one person stands in the never-ending line reading the latest issue of People and the other scans the shop for any last minute purchases. Take turns so nobody gets bored. Another time saver? Instead of driving aimlessly around town, fighting traffic, plan ahead of time which stores you'd like to visit. If your shopping list contains "must-purchase" gifts, you may want to decide ahead of time which stores to hunt in for those specific items. If you're familiar with the area, try to steer clear of heavily traveled roads and take short cuts!

With a little bit of planning, you can survive Black Friday Shopping, and maybe even enjoy yourself. (You can see how I did last year!) I'll wave if I see you sampling lotions in Bath and Body Works!

{Are you a Black Friday shopper? If not, do you do something special with the family that day?}

*This post was originally shared as a guest post over at Centsational Girl last Fall. I am so grateful to Kate for giving me my first shot at guest posting!*

*Thanks to today's Sponsor, Crafty Girls Workshop.
Crafty Girls Workshop


  1. LOVE Black Friday!! It's always me & my sister in law and we meet up with my MIL. We started at Toys R Us at midnight last year while my mother in law hit Old Navy at 3 am and got the Lego Rockband game for the Wii for us. It definitely pays to shop with partners!

    And I have taken a kid before! He was two and it really wasnt that bad. He mostly slept in the stroller. But I cant imagine bringing bigger kids that would be up walking!

  2. DEF one of my favorite holidays of the year. Wait, it's not a holiday? Well, it is in MY BOOK! But yes, I am totally a game plan kinda girl. BTW: if you have an iPhone or iPad, I just downloaded a new app from Tgiblackfriday.com that lets me make my list on my iPad so I can access it all day long! It's awesome! ROCKIN AWESOME!

  3. I love Black Friday! I don't usually buy a ton of things...I think it is just the rush of all the people and the possibility of great deals! I've gone with a group of friends the last few years and it is so much fun!

  4. You couldn't pay me enough to go black Friday shopping, just thinking about it gives me the heebies. I get so chlosterphobic around all of the crowds & I'm pretty sure I was once traumatized in my childhood by being dragged out of the house on black Friday & being forced to face the crowds with my mom but the details are hazy :-) Black Friday is usually the day we designate for Christmas decorating & I usually do most of my shopping online :-) Can't wait to see what you score this year!

  5. Such great advice, Miss Amanda! I do like getting into the rush of the day and all the deals. I just don't care for the 5:00 am door busters. I ususally go before noon. My aging mother who has always been such a great shopper is really not up for it anymore. :(


  6. Oh Black Friday, I can't wait! Any clue what time HL opens?!?! I can only hope for a midnight opening!

  7. Nadir,
    I am right there with you! Can't stand the craziness! This year I beleive we are taking out 2 youngest kids, 17 & 19, and son's GF and little grandbaby to a remote lake house to do NOTHING, gearing up for the holiday season!
    Ya'll have fun shopping, lol!

  8. I'll be participating this year too- but only after the tree is put up. I love the idea of us both fueling up at Starbuck's.

  9. I am on and off again when it comes to Black Friday. I usually cave around 8 a.m. and head out. This year we are leaving for Disney that morning. The pet hotel opens at 5 a.m., I will drop Emma off and head straight to Target (my personal fave!). Then off to the airport. Love your tips! Very good ones! I will not be one of those out in my jammies at 5 a.m. shopping...I will always wear something cute. Hehe!

  10. Looooove black friday! Most people think I'm nuts, but I begin my preparation as soon as ads start coming out! It's such a great way to spend money and get into the holiday spirit! :)

  11. I love black friday deals but I usually wait until Monday when I can get all of the shopping done online and usually with free shipping. My hubby works holidays so going out sans kids isnt an option. That being said it is probably an activity I will take part in once the kids are a bit older, something feels like it is missing when you do it all online!

  12. I do not participate in Black Friday. I like your tips - especially the fuel up part!

  13. I've only gone really early one time with my SIL and that was about 9 years ago. The past few years I have never had any money to go. lol Great tips though!

  14. Great post Amanda! I love Black Friday too! BUT, by the end of the day, I'm not so sure I like people anymore. UGH! The rude comes out in everybody. I hate getting trampled without so much as an "excuse me" or "so sorry". I have been known to yell, "So sorry! I didn't mean to get in your way" when someone steps on me or pushes me out of the way without so much as a glance. I do love the deals though! And, I'm with you on the fuel up too. Breakfast sandwhich at McDonalds at 6ish and Starbucks by 8:00.

  15. I avoid Black Friday. That way I know I won't be the one that gets trampled to death in the mad dash for 99c ZhuZhu pets! ;)

  16. Wow, now that's prepared. Not since my married life have I ventured out for Black Friday. We always went small for Christmas gifts and really, really try too still even with kids. Try too anyway. I'd venture out for Black Friday again if and only if I could go with you as a guide.

  17. I am so a black friday shopper! Look forward to it every year and have already been checking out the black friday ads posted on facebook this week! Always make a game plan..thats the most important strategy!!!

  18. My mom and I always shop on Black Friday but only in small shops that won't be crowded. We used to hit the mall at 5 am, but we stopped doing that a few years ago when we realized that sleeping in and drinking coffee was a bit more pleasant. I hope you get lots of great deals this year!

  19. I have never shopped Black Friday...I may have to give it a go this year! Need those sales for sure. But I still might do it all online. They have good sales there too! And no crowds and jammies and hot coffee are sooooo comfy!!

  20. I was just telling the hubs that black friday was my favorite day of the year. And he looked as if I were crazy and hid his wallet. It's def. a holiday in my book - and this year I'm making happy black Friday cards - i'll post them to my blog when I'm done - to send to my friends. blackfriday2010.com has the leaked Black Friday ads - Toys R Us, Joann's , kmart, Walmart, Target, Best Buy. They've got TONS!

  21. We don't really have Black Friday in Canada, and all I can say is I am so glad about that! Hoards of shoppers fighting for a deal scare me.

  22. Hi Amanda! I love your shopping post. lol. Especially the picture of the screaming child lol. Great:D
    I love Black Friday too. Just wish I had the funds this year lol. School tends to suck up money. soon very very soon. lol. Take care.


  23. I love this post Amanda- I'm linking to it on Friday! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving:)

  24. This picture of the kid on the shopping cart had me rolling! You are so right, you should not bring kids to black friday shopping, you cant concentrate on what you want and I have to say husbands are worse than kids with the complaining...I made the mistake of taking my husband and paid the price with all his complaining! Love my husband but that man is a terrible shopper.


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