Black Friday: Tips for staying organized

My wife and mother-in-law have a tradition of waking up at an absurdly early hour the day after Thanksgiving to brave the crowds for the best deals of the season. I’ve never taken part in this tradition, mainly because I really don’t enjoy shopping and these days I do most of my shopping online. I have become more understanding of this tradition in the last few years since about 90 percent of our holiday shopping is completed with about a month to spare. It is the Band-Aid strategy to holiday shopping, fast and a little bit painful.

My wife adheres to a strict regimen when doing the holiday shopping the day after Thanksgiving, and these are her rules:

  1. Always make a list of what you are planning to buy and for whom.
  2. Check out all the holiday ads for the best deals and what time these deals end.
  3. Plan your day. After looking over the advertisements, plan your shopping agenda.
  4. Remember to eat. After hitting up the early morning sales it is good time to go eat breakfast. 
  5. Don’t buy just for the sake of a deal. This leads to unnecessary purchases. (Remember to stick to your list. See #1.)
  6. Be sure to conceal your purchases in your car by covering them with blanket or putting them in the trunk. My wife, after meeting my dad and me for breakfast, gives us her early morning purchases to make room in the car for new purchases.
  7. Be sure to have all of your coupons organized and ready, ($10 off at Macy’s, 10 percent at JC Pennys)  don’t take all those sales ads with you, but do keep them in the car.
  8. Clean out your purse and/or wallet the night before and have cash or credit cards ready. Don’t hold up the check-out line digging through your purse.
  9. Be sure your cell phone is charged.  If you’re shopping with a friend and you spread out and need to locate each other, a low battery could cost you that special purchase.
  10. Don’t limit your purchases to just Christmas, if friends or family member’s birthdays are around the corner, add them to your list.

This year, due to the poor economic climate, the Black Friday deals are supposed to be especially enticing. Remember #5 from the list above when going about your shopping and try not to buy for the sake of a good deal.

Black Friday isn’t for everyone, especially me, but it is an efficient way to get your holiday shopping finished in a timely manner. Just remember to be patient and try not to get in a scuffle. No one said shopping on Black Friday was painless or even very enjoyable, but the process will get a bulk of your shopping out of the way in a span one day.

27 Comments for “Black Friday: Tips for staying organized”

  1. posted by Joy (from Just Plain Joy) on

    If the malls aren’t for you, there are lots of online stores offering discounts as well…Check out Cyber Monday at

    Here’s my latest post on Black Friday deals…

  2. posted by timgray on

    I will not be entering the fray of madness that is black friday this year. I already finished all my holiday shopping and did it all Online. In fact after seeing some of the “leaked” sales flyers I got better deals a month ago on with paying shipping than I would get being pushed and shoved at any of the local stores or mega stores..

    It’s no longer worth it to me. and the “super deals” really are not super deals anymore.

  3. posted by Amy on

    A few years ago here in Houston there was a mini crime wave where thieves would lurk outside Circuit City and/or Best Buy, watch people load their cars, follow them to the next stop on their shopping route, and break into the car. Covering items with a blanket or putting them in the trunk isn’t enough if you are followed. For any big ticket items, I would seriously consider going home to unload before going anywhere else to shop.

    Since I never go shopping on Black Friday, it’s a bit moot for me — but something to keep in mind at any time.

  4. posted by falnfenix on

    some sites will offer online deals Friday, as well. if you stay up late (’till at least 12:30am) the night before, you can take advantage of those deals without having to get up at way-too-early-o’clock. my partner and i have done this for the past 2 years, and it works out well.

  5. posted by Tabitha (From Single to Married) on

    Great suggestions – and I’m with you, I’ll do most of mine online. But it still pays to be organized so we don’t go out of control!

  6. posted by anon on

    How about just participating in Buy Nothing Day instead?

  7. posted by Gayle on

    I was just about to talk about Buy Nothing Day!

    That photo looks terrifying, by the way. I’m glad we don’t have this sort of madness in Canada!

  8. posted by Sheryl on

    I avoid shopping on Black Friday like the plague, but this year a friend and I are going thrift store shopping. They open at a humane hour and always have great deals! 🙂

  9. posted by Melissa A. on

    I’m knitting all my gifts and bought most of my yarn over the summer or online. So I’m glad I don’t have to shop. However I live in Canada so we don’t have Black Friday. Typically I aim to have all my shopping done by the end of November.

  10. posted by Another Deb on

    My side of the family has decided not to exchange gifts this year. We’ll buy for the kids under 18 but the rest of us have realized that the stress of finding and shipping gifts and receiving more “stuff” is ruining the holiday”

    Instead, I used the money I would have spent on a charity food drive my school is promoting. I got to shop, the needy get to eat. Win Win.

  11. posted by Fit Bottomed Girls on

    I know there are good deals on Black Friday, but I just can’t do it. I’d rather shop late on a Friday night then brave the crowds. 🙂

  12. posted by lucille on

    We did the early morning black friday thing one year. We took all the ads and cut out the flyer portion of the item we wanted. Then we made a page for each store in a notebook that we taped the desired items into. The front of the notebook had the list of what stores to go to in what order based on the time the deal was available and what ones we wanted the most or was going to be in demand. This made it easy to see exactly what we were after in each store.

    The best deals we found were on some of the things people were not fighting over. Home items and holiday decorations. We found great deals on both at a big box home store and Michaels crafts.

  13. posted by Another Deb on

    The easiest day I ever spent shopping for Christmas presents was the day before Thanksgiving. The malls were dead. Everyone was at the grocery stores.

  14. posted by Cynthia Friedlob, The Thoughtful Consumer on

    My blogpost today was about Buy Nothing Day, so I’m on the same page as anon and Gayle — how about staying home?

    I also agree with Gayle that the photo is frightening! It’s just stuff they’re buying, and I’d bet that most of those frantic folks in the picture already have plenty of stuff!

  15. posted by JC on

    In my community, the day after Thanksgiving is not so much for buying things, but more of a gathering. There aren’t many major stores (between the two small towns there is a Fred Meyer, Home Depot, a new Lowes, JoAnn Fabrics and the local shops). In the last few years the stores have been packed early in the morning for some sales, but the major events are the afternoon craft fairs where you are mostly seeing what people have been doing/making, greeting friends you haven’t seen for awhile, and welcoming Santa to town (he usually arrives on dog sled). In the evening there is a light parade, free hot chocolate around a bonfire, and a major fireworks display. When I was young, the local theatre would play free kids movies all afternoon. My parents would just drop us off and they would go to the fairs without dragging us along. There isn’t that frantic shopping fever.

  16. posted by Springpeeper on

    I, too, am very thankful to be Canadian and not have this happening around me.

    Of course, we have Boxing Day, but it doesn’t get the hype Black Friday does and it probably isn’t as horrible.

    Years ago I discovered that December 26th – not the 25th – was the day I really looked forward to; all the stress was over and I could just relax at home, eat delicious leftovers, and enjoy the season. Nothing on earth could get me to go shopping on Boxing Day.

  17. posted by Alex on

    Great tips. So good I’m tweeting it. Here is the link.

  18. posted by Alice on

    Don’t bother with the blanket… seriously, what do you think people think when they see a lumpy blanket covered mound in your backseat? Especially in the month before Christmas, is there really anyone out there who would see that and not think there was something valuable underneath?
    Use the trunk, and if you are getting too much for one trunkful stage a handoff somewhere or go drop some at home. Visibly hiding stuff just tells a crook that there’s something worth hiding in there.

  19. posted by Shannon Ritter on

    I spend hours in the middle of the living room floor with all of the advertisements in front of me. I then make a list of all the stores, when they open, and what specific items I want from that store. Now, some stores open the same time as the other, so I then prioritize which item I want more and weigh that against the likelihood that others will also want that same item and try to determine how early I need to arrive. Also, keep in mind that lots of retailers start offering Black Friday deals right after midnight online so you can grab some quick online bargains even before you head out.

  20. posted by Rick Rottman on

    Hey, you forgot the one about wearing size 15 steel toe work boots. For me, it’s made dealing with parents who use a stroller as a battering ram much easier to deal with.

    Ho Ho Ho!

  21. posted by Jessica on

    I second Buy Nothing Day. I’ve worked too many Black Fridays or had relatives working that day and it messes up Thanksgiving since they have to be at work so early.

    Also, I find it pretty awful that the day after we’re supposedly being thankful for what we have we’re off to buy more “stuff”. Not to mention how so many people treat Thanksgiving as an opportunity to stuff themselves silly and sit around…but ah well.

  22. posted by Dave Taurus on

    Always take a knife. A big f*ck off knife. That way, anyone gets in your way, slide the knife quickly and firmly up below their ribcage and twist. If you do this quickly and violently enough, they probably wont have time to scream. As they fall, try to nudge them into a quiet area of the shop. Remember, don’t let anyone get in the way of your rampant consumerism.

    Alternatively, stop buying stuff. Really, just look at yourselves. Baying, bleating little sheep people lurching from consumer fix to fix, goggle eyed and focussed only on the next shiny thing you can grab with your greasy little fat sausage fingers. How about not worrying about 30% off some games console that you only use to placate your fat children in between trips to McDonalds? Why not use the opportunity to take little fatty to the park, take a ball, run about a bit (well ok, roll about a bit but its a start) and maybe you know, don’t spend any money. How about that for a radical idea?

  23. posted by Lucyred on

    Merry Christmas to you Dave Taurus (aka Nasty Dave)

  24. posted by Marc Rohde on

    Why be organized? Two years ago a woman walked up to my wife’s cart and just took something out of it.

    I hate Black Friday, it brings out the worst in humanity all in the name of saving money on crap we don’t need to celebrate a religious holiday that’s been hijacked by consumerism.

  25. posted by Doctress Julia on

    Dave Taurus, you are AWESOME. And, I second all of your sentiments. 🙂

  26. posted by some gal on

    Dave Taurus: Your comment is the best thing on this page. Keep up the good work, continue being awesome.

  27. posted by November 2008 wrap up | Unclutterer on

    […] Black Friday: Tips for staying organized […]

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