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I’m off to our after Thanksgiving tradition… shopping on Black Friday. Yes, I am one of those nutso people camping outside of Target at 4 AM so I can be the first person to get those limited-quantity electronics.

black friday

Rarely is there another time of year when I get stressed about shopping. In fact, I find it to be a rather relaxing experience – except for these next three days. If you haven’t ever experienced it yourself, let me assure you, there is a reason why it’s stressful: the planning, the parking, the hissing that occurs when people cut in line, the running, the yelling, the grabbing, the stampede, the horns… no wait, I guess that last one is the running of the bulls in Spain. Then again, have you ever seen a mother going after the last Xbox?

It doesn’t have to be a totally horrifying experience. The great deals and hair-pulling aren’t the only reasons I do it every year (because truth be told, the hair pulling goes in the ‘pro’ column for me. #bringiton). It’s exciting. It’s an adventure. It’s sport. And with enough proper planning, you can have a fun time and be finished by 10 AM like the experts (like us!) – reheating leftovers and watching Christmas movies. Here are a few of my tips.

  1. Scour the ads. Not only do we pull out the tree on Thanksgiving evening, but my Dad always goes out and picks up two newspapers for us to comb through. While my sister is organizing the ornaments, I’m going throught the first pile of ads and dismissing the ones we don’t need. Having two copies of the “good” ads allows us to each hang on to the items we really want to look for the next morning. Facebook, Twitter and tip-off sites like slickdeals.net can also be worked into the night’s research. Knowing what you’re after is half the battle!
  2. Pick your poison. You don’t need to visit every store in order to get the best merch, and you don’t need to rush back and forth all over your city to find the items, either. Driving is stressful and finding a place to park can take longer than the shopping trip itself. Try to narrow your focus down to a specific area, like a shopping center with a Target, Old Navy, and a Best Buy one street away. You can cover plenty of ground and save yourself extra driving-related stress.
  3. Set your watches. Know when each store opens. Does one open at midnight and the other at 4 AM? Plan accordingly.
  4. Divide and conquer. Sometimes I imagine a world where we could get a few free passes each January that allow us to turn ourselves into two (or maybe eight) people… you know, for those special occasions during the year when we just don’t have enough time (but even in a fantasy world I imagine I’d abuse it if I had the ability permanently, so I thought of the pass system – I’m clearly a nutjob to have thought this much about it). Since I don’t have the ability to clone myself, shopping in a group can be just as effective. While my sister waits in line at Kohl’s, I’m in line at Target (I know I’ve mentioned it a lot in this post, but it’s pretty much my go-to spot for BF). We’re finished in half the time and there are less of us standing around complaining about the store we want to go to next.
  5. Caffeinate. Getting up at 4 AM is difficult and makes for a very cranky Sarah. Allow yourself to get some early shuteye the night before, and drink your body’s weight in coffee (ok, that may be a little much, but you get the idea). I hear this year, QT is offering free coffee until 10 AM the morning of BF. Clearly, the people at QT get it.

There you have it. Five tips I use every single year so that I can be done in time to get an early morning nap on top of my empty wallet. I hope you all score big, and I hope these tips helped. Have any you’d like to add? Feel free to comment.

Anywho, I don’t have much time left. Gotta find my running shoes!


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  1. Great tips! Yes, we are among the crazy people who have been doing it every year we've been married… for us, it's fun and adventurous – and the earlier the better! Oh yes, and the good deals are pretty sweet, too. :)


  2. Since I'm a Brit, living in Canada and neither country has this 'Black Friday' tradition, I must say I think you're all loony ;o)
    Not for wanting to save money.. I'm all over that. But getting up at 4 am to do it.. WOAH! that's some serious dedication.
    What I wanted to ask though is if you can tell me why it's called Black Friday? Surely if you guys are all saving money, it's a happy day. Black Friday sounds like Black Monday when the stock market crashed.
    Just curious ? Hope you had a good one.
    Jo xx

  3. It is based on a finance term. A while ago, companies that were losing money used red ink to delineate losses. This was eventaully termed as being “in the red”. Conversely, “in the black” meant a comoany was turning a profit (again, based on the ink color). Since the day after Thanksgiving is is the biggest shopping day of the year, most companies are in the black today – thus, Black Friday!

  4. Thanks Sarah that makes sense.. it's the day retailers get 'back in the black'.
    It's interesting how historical traditions are perpetuated even when the conditions which created them no longer exist. In the UK the busiest shopping days are the first weekend after the end of November pay day. In reality most people no longer have to tie their spending patterns to their pay day, they can simply use a credit card, or store credit or a loan. Even so.. the tradition persists.
    Thanks for explaining where Black Friday came from.
    Did you manage to get what you wanted btw ??
    Jo xx

  5. I did, but you'll have to wait for another post to see what I picked up!

  6. I discovered your blog after I closed on my house in November 2012. I found it while searching for a way to lay my laminate flooring in a room that contained a massive rock fireplace (Jamb Session). Since then, I’ve decided to read it from the beginning to current. “Today’s” blog really made me excited for Fall, blue jeans, and BLACK FRIDAY!!

    It’s been a long-standing tradition in my family to divide and conquer to get the best electronics deals, reunite at a Waffle House or IHOP to refuel, and then shop together until we are delirious from exhaustion, at which time we gather at one of our houses to eat leftovers, take a nap, and then get back at it!! I can NOT wait for November!!

    1. I LOVE that you have that tradition. I didn’t really like getting up early as a kid, but now that I’m an adult (and can stand the smooth, delicious, life-affirming taste of coffee), the Black Friday tradition means just a little more. We usually head to Waffle House too!