Tuesday, November 22, 2011

10 Tips for Black Friday

I think it was November 2004 when I participated in my first Black Friday. Somehow I had been sheltered from the experience my entire life; but when I hit the streets at 5:30am that Friday, my life was changed and this became a flourishing tradition (yes, I'm being somewhat sarcastic!). For a small window of time prices are slashed so low at your favorite stores that it's impossible to resist braving those crowds before sunrise. If you're like me and love to shop & save, this is the day for you! I don't even have anything I need to camp out for this year, but I am so excited!!!

Today I'm sharing my Top 10 Tips for Black Friday. If you have any tips, please share them as a comment!
Tara, Ryan and me waiting at Target, Black Friday 2008

1. You don't have to wait for Thanksgiving to see the Black Friday sale advertisements. Head over to BFAds.net and you can see the leaked adscans right there! Use this to your advantage to help you plan your Black Friday! BFAds.net also has a lot of great tips, information on pre- and post-Black Friday sales, and can help you with anything you need to know Black Friday related. Also, if a company asks them to remove a leaked ad they comply; I like that they respect that. I don't know what I'd do without that website!

2. If you need a major big ticket item, plan your Black Friday around it. For example, last year my brother and I both needed a laptop and Staples had the best deal to meet both our needs so that was our first stop & where we camped out in line. If you need something big that you think is going to sell fast, don't expect it to be at the store later; make it a priority if it is a priority and plan everything else secondary.

3. Find out what time all the stores you want to visit open for Black Friday & when the sales expire. A lot of stores have chosen to open at midnight this year instead of the general 4,5, or 6am. If you're planning on getting something you think might sell out, make sure you know when the store it's at opens. In addition to opening times, make sure you know how long a sale item is valid. Some items are only on sale for a certain window of time (i.e. "until 11am").

4. Get organized, plan your attack! I am being somewhat sarcastic, but if you want to make the most of your time and money, get organized! I make so many lists for Black Friday it's scary! You can also organize your location: last year we picked a Staples that was directly across the street from a Target so we could simply run across the street when we were done.
Me & Tara (my SIL) - don't we look like we have a plan of attack? WE DID!

5. Budget loosely & stick to it! It will be really easy once you're out there in the "wild" to start throwing things in your cart like a maniac because they're that cheap. But don't get out of control. Make a budget that's loose enough to allow some wiggle room for impulse purchases but still keeps you within your means. You will be happy you did this once you come down from your shopping high. And keep your receipts because it's okay to return some things later when you realize you lost your mind a little bit. ;)

6. Don't underestimate the crowds but don't fear them either.
For our laptops last year we got to Staples at 1:15am! I seriously needed a computer and was not going to let anyone stand in the way of my $399 HP! (Of course, we only had 1 other person in line with us until around 4am, so it was an overshot; but I'd rather overestimate than underestimate!).

On the other side of the token, don't let the news stories about people being mauled by shoppers deter you. Sure, you need to be careful because there will be more people shopping than usual, but as long as you're nice then other people are nice too (common sense!)! Often times many stores will have sales associates come out before the store opens and issue vouchers for their big ticket items; they will start with the first person in line and issue vouchers to each person in order until they run out (i.e. there were 10 laptops in stock, they had 10 vouchers; once they were passed out the laptops were essentially "sold out"). This eliminates the insanity once the doors open of the first people in line getting trampled and losing out on the item they spent all night waiting for. We got vouchers, we were stoked! Here is me with my brother Jordan with our laptop vouchers - booya! ;)

7. If you're going to be waiting for a long time, be prepared! The longest I ever waited was last year from 1:15-6am. It was brutal. I was tired and cranky and was waiting with my little brothers who were just as antsy. We entertained ourselves but wished we would have prepared more things to do while waiting.
My brothers & I literally entertained ourselves by taking pictures of our
reflection in the mirrored ceiling! That's how bored we were! (2010)

8. On the same note, wear layers and dress warm! If you'll be waiting any period of time outside, dress super warm! Last year was the coldest Black Friday I can remember. I was in a million layers and still wasn't warm enough. We were taking turns sitting in my car with the heater on and fighting for those turns! I can't even imagine what it's like for people in states where it snows and is seriously cold. You want to be warm, but you also want to wear layers because eventually you'll be running around in heated stores.

Black Friday 2010 freeeeeezing & layered!

9. Stay hydrated and nourished! Don't be afraid to tote along some Thanksgiving leftovers if you'll be waiting a long time. And if you won't be camping out all night, eat breakfast before you hit the stores. At the very least, throw a banana in your purse and don't forget to drink water. I know you know shopping is a sport! Just because it's not in the Olympics (yet) doesn't mean you don't need to prepare for it! ;)

10. Make it a fun experience! When I gush to my mom about Black Friday she groans and says it sounds like the most unfun shopping experience she could imagine (and she's a bigger deal-lover than I am!). But it is what you make it! My sister-in-law and I have turned it into a tradition that's part of Thanksgiving. We look forward to the time spent together racing around stores all over town, sharing with each other the goods we have found and the money we've saved. Last year my brothers even got involved and every year we bring my niece with us, too! So who says you can't participate because you have a baby?! (I know, easier said than done!).
My brother & my niece on her first Black Friday, 2008 (4 months old!)

You can make some priceless memories on Black Friday and if you're like me, will have plenty of hilarious stories to build into your holiday collection!

What tips do you have for surviving this "holiday"? Any fun Black Friday stories or incredible purchases?


  1. I've only been out on Black Friday twice, once by myself and once with my best friend. I was MISREABLE by myself, so it must be key to have someone you enjoy with you. Good luck with your shopping this year! :-)


Thank you so much for the feedback! Leave a note to let me know you dropped by and I'll come visit your blog, too! If I can't reach you by blog or email, I'll reply back right here shortly! Thanks again! xo