Your Friendly Black Friday Survival Guide


Published: November 19, 2009

Ah, Black Friday. Can’t you just hear your blood pressure rising? Some people love it, some people hate it, but this holiday created to put merchants “back in the black” is a great way to score Christmas presents on the cheap (and maybe a little something for yourself). If you are planning on braving the crowds on Friday, here are some tips to make the most of Black Friday and help you keep your cool in the craziness.

Do Your Homework

1. Research: Before you head into the fray, it’s best to be prepared. The night before, make sure to check out sites like Black Friday ads ( that gather together and preview the advertisements for Black Friday specials. Especially note if a deal is time-sensitive. Oftentimes stores have time-sensitive or limited-quantity sales earlier in the morning.

2. Some Web sites to check out:

  • Price Grabber ( for comparing prices on an item.
  • Retail Me Not ( for store coupons and discounts.
  • Gift Card Rescue ( for discount gift cards.

3. Make a List: After you’ve checked out your options, make a list of what you want or need. Although you might think those fluorescent orange camper shoes are a great deal at the time, by Saturday, common sense will kick in and you might change your mind. The way to avoid buyer’s remorse is to have a list and stick to it, and remember that it’s not actually a deal if you don’t need it.

4. Of course, sometimes mistakes do happen, so be sure to know the store’s return policy and to get a receipt with your purchase to make those impulse-buys easier to return Monday morning.

Dos and Don’ts

After you’ve done all your homework, you’re ready to hit the sales. Here’s some dos and don’ts to remember while you’re out.

Do: Bring any ads, coupons or deals that you intend to use.

Don’t: Forget your shopping list. You might think you have it all in your head, but in the frenzy you just might “forget” and buy something unnecessary. To stay on budget, on task and sane, if you can’t check it off your list, don’t buy it.

Do: wear layers, with a base layer of a tank top and leggings for the ladies. Are you really going to wait in line for that dressing room? Have no shame; save time by stripping down and trying it on in the aisle.

Don’t: Wear accessories. Necklaces, hats, headbands, heels, purses that can hold a small pony, anything with laces, ties or zippers. If you do, you’re going to hate yourself after you have to re-dress for the umpteenth time.

Do: Bring water and snacks. If you intend to do a shopping marathon or are going to be waiting in line for the store to open, bring a snack. Shopping while hungry and dehydrated is never a good idea.

Don’t: Bring a bad shopping companion. This includes boyfriends and small children. Bring someone who can keep you company in line and appreciates scouring the Black Friday deals as much as you do.

Skip the Lines, Shop Online

There’s no rule that says you have to brave the crowds on Black Friday; stores will often have discounts and reduced shipping online (welcome to the 21st century). So if you choose to stay in:

  • Look for “night owl” discounts. Stores will often mark down their wares late Thanksgiving evening.
  • Have a shopping list and use it. Do we have to go over buyer’s remorse again? It’s much easier to make rash purchases when you can add a sofa to your cart with the click of a button.
  • Know your measurements and sizes in the stores you are planning to shop. The sizing varies (sometimes dramatically) from store to store, and returns are a hassle.
  • Wear your bathrobe, pjs and bring a cup of coffee. You might as well revel in the fact that you are not standing in line, freezing outside of Best Buy at 5 a.m.
  • Check for additional online discount codes. Oftentimes you can get free shipping, or some stores, like Nordstrom, offer in-store pick-up.

Celebrate Buy-Nothing Day Instead

You can skip the Black Friday madness, and instead choose to sleep off all that turkey you just ate and participate in Buy Nothing Day.

Remember, Black Friday is when stores initially drop their prices but merchants have to turn over their stock in January/February to make room for incoming spring and summer merchandise, and that’s when you can be certain you’re getting the best deal. So if you sit this one out, you’ll get another chance in a couple of months.

So whether you decide to brave the crowds (god bless you), to stay online in your bunny slippers, or to just keep hitting that snooze alarm until two in the afternoon, good luck and have a Happy Thanksgiving.