Your Black Friday Survival Guide

So, for my friends who have been living in their bomb shelters for a few months, as well as my agoraphobic peeps who do not have a television, computer, or daily newspaper, I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s Black Friday Week!

Oh, and Thanksgiving too. Right.

Retailers and consumers alike are salivating with anticipation of what Friday morning will bring. Are you braving the crowds in search of the best deal? If so, here are some tips to make your shopping more enjoyable (and hopefully injury-free)!

  • Start looking at Black Friday ads now. The site I like is, which not only lists the items that will be on sale but also denotes whether or not it is a “doorbuster” item, as well as linking to ebay so you can see what that item is currently going for. That way you can tell how great of a deal it really is.
  • Make a list of all of the people you need to buy for, as well as any gift ideas you have for that person. Compare your list to the ads.
  • Next, see if there’s anything you really need that’s on sale. And here’s the key: Make a list. Otherwise you’ll find yourself standing in line for 45 minutes at the home improvement store to purchase a 140-piece socket set because you got caught up in the Black Friday fever. Been there, done that. In my case, a really ugly Dora the Explorer lamp and a fleece blanket that I needed “just in case I need another gift for someone.” Yeah, no clue where that blanket is now. Probably buried at the bottom of my closet with other “bargains” I’ve picked up here and there “just in case.” Not quite a bargain if you’re wasting your money on something that’s going to go unused!
  • If there is a big-ticket item you have been waiting to buy, be prepared to strategize. Go to the store right before it closes on Thanksgiving, or Wednesday if it’s not open on Thursday. See if you can find the item so you know where to go once you get inside the doors. Remember, though, that some stores put their big-ticket items in crazy places, such as a computer in the produce section. If the store is open 24 hours, like WalMart, go there sometime after midnight and see if you can tell where they are going to put the items. Do a little snooping around. Don’t worry; you won’t be the only one!
  • Prioritize and map out your shopping trip the night before. You can’t be in three stores at once, so decide which items are the most important to you, or which you think will likely sell out first. I personally save Target for later in the day. Since they only offer a 2-day sale instead of doorbusters, you’re likely to find that item later. I believe they receive shipments throughout the two days as well, so even if an item isn’t there, you may be able to find it on Saturday.
  • Wear steel-toed boots if you have them. You will get stepped on. This is especially true if you’re going for a big-ticket item. If you have steel-toed running shoes, even better.
  • Once you get inside the door, don’t grab a cart. It’s only going to slow you down and make you really irritated when you can’t get down aisles. Instead, carry reusable shopping bags with you and fill those up with your loot. Just don’t forget to pay!
  • If you don’t get a big-ticket item or the thought of fighting crowds makes you want to slowly poke out your eyeballs with a dull pencil, look online. You’ll likely find similar sales offered by competitors. usually has competitive prices on the hot items of the season.
  • And please, please, be nice. Remember the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not seeing how many old ladies you can take out on your way to the $5 pajamas. Christmas isn’t about stuff or spending money. If you need reminders throughout your shopping trip, write down some Bible verses on sticky notes and stick them inside your car, or listen to some inspirational Christmas music. Praying before you run into that first store can’t hurt either!
  • Need something to do with your kids while you shop? Check around your city to see if businesses are offering babysitting services or children’s programs. If you’re in Central Iowa, your kids can have fun at Pump It Up in Urbandale while you snag the bargains. They’re offering a fun program for kids from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. For $25, your child can jump on the awesome inflatables, play games, make crafts, and eat lunch! Each additional child in a family receives a $2 discount. Just think, when you get home worn out from a full morning of shopping, your kid will be worn out too from a full morning of jumping and running. Perfect! If you’re in the DSM area, drop the kiddos off at Pump It Up at 4069 121st Street in Urbandale. Questions? Call Pump It Up at (515)270-5017.

So what about you? Are you venturing out on Friday? Do you have any special traditions or survival tips?

Christmas image from lusi at Stock.xchng
Inflatables image courtesy of Pump It Up


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