Braving Black Friday
November 21, 2009
One thing I have never done is gone shopping on Black Friday. Yes, it’s true. Traditionally, my family is recovering from the tryptophan, and then we manage to consume another round of leftovers, only to “drag” ourselves to a few wineries on Friday afternoon. I typically do most of my shopping locally or online, especially when I see those words “Free Shipping”.
This year will be a little different. We are entertaining some out-of-town family next week, and they really want to go to Union Square in San Francisco on Black Friday to shop Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and see the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree. I’ve always been a little afraid to brave the stores the day after Thanksgiving, despite the amazing savings available. However, there is no escaping it this year.
When my friend Amanda over at Serenity Now mentioned that she always goes shopping on Black Friday, it prompted this guest post. I’ve picked up a few helpful tips from Amanda on life, mothering, and now Black Friday shopping. I hope you will too.
Hi there! My name is Amanda, and I write a little blog called Serenity Now to hold onto the thin sliver of sanity that I have left. I hope you might stop by to say hello. I stay home with my two cutesy little girls; but I love being crafty, reading, thrifty decorating (bloggers like Kate are helping me in leaps and bounds in that department), entertaining, my DVR, and shopping. Due to family politics, I can’t tell you where my family will be spending Thanksgiving this year, but I can tell you what I’ll be doing the day after Thanksgiving. I will be frolicking with the bargain-happy masses, participating in Black Friday shopping.
What’s Black Friday?
Please, let me enlighten you. The day after Thanksgiving is usually a huge day for retailers, who tend to 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. 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 loud speakers. 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 to do 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 just be icing on the cake to help you have a successful day.
Have a Game Plan– I keep a printed list of family and friends I want to purchase gifts for in my wallet, with ideas for each person. As I purchase an item, I cross it out (making sure it’s still readable when I wrap gifts later on).
This is especially helpful on Black Friday, so you aren’t caught in the accessories aisle at Macy’s wondering, “Didn’t I already buy Aunt Mabel a green scarf?”
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, so I deferred to my friend K, who is an expert. Keep track of sales and coupons the week of Thanksgiving, either by perusing your local stores’ circulars, or doing what K recommends and checking out websites 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. Some people don’t think it’s worth it to shop the day after Thanksgiving, but K told me she saves a minimum of $200 each year! I found some of the best deals on holiday décor at Target last year.
Not into the 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 free gifts with a 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 the 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, but Black Friday is not the day to debut your fabulous, yet painfully uncomfortable purple ruffle 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 last year. We laughed at the frantic people standing in line outside of 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 to do some shopping for the kids with your significant other, have mercy on him and let him stay home and watch football while your kids trash your living room. Listening to my children beg for crackers and Barbies and trying to keep them contained in a stroller or shopping cart as they try to escape isn’t really my thing, but if you’re up to it just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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 your own in 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 line. Speaking of check-out lines….
Strategy– You can be more efficient with 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 and 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 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. I’ll wave if I see you sampling lotions in Bath & Body Works.
Finally, I wanted to say a special thanks to Kate for allowing me to post on her fabulous blog (no editing, Kate!). Her graciousness, creativity, and good taste make Centsational Girl one of the first (and favorite) links I click on each day. I’m honored to have her as a blogging friend! I hope you’ll join me at Serenity Now soon. Coming up: a Christmas/Blogiversary Giveaway, Holiday Home Tours, Christmas crafts, recipes, and amusing stories of the things my children do to torture me.
A big THANK YOU to Amanda for taking the time to jot down her tips on surviving Black Friday. She’s a pro! I’m not so anxious now, having read her advice.
Tell me, do you do any of your shopping on Black Friday? Do you hit the big store sales or do you shop locally ? I’d love to hear your opinion, and any great strategies you use to save money when shopping for your holiday gifts.