At one time, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was the biggest shopping day of the year. Black Friday is the day all the retailers open up at ungodly hours, if they don’t start at midnight following Thanksgiving (Thanks, Walmart, for starting the trend of yanking your employees away from their loved ones on Thanksgiving night just so you can make a couple more bucks to NOT spend on your employees), of 4:00 AM and have prices so low, people are killing each other in the parking lot so they can have a parking spot. However, it’s a great way for people to save a lot of money on their holiday gifts, particularly if they have kids.
After several years of shopping on Black Friday (I raised kids if that helps explain the insanity) with no injuries (and I’m still alive), I feel as though I’m more than a little bit of an expert when it comes to getting out of Black Friday alive.
There’s ALWAYS that one hot item each year. The best way to handle the stress of getting that gift for one or more of your kids is to not plan on buying it for them. I swear, you’ll spend more time searching for that toy and your family will suffer for it. First, there are the missed meals because you heard that a friend’s sister’s cousin’s brother’s girlfriend’s aunt’s neighbor saw one at some obscure store 60 miles away. Then there’s all the time necessary to put flyers up in the neighborhood looking for their parent. Then there’s the time to even make the flyer, get it to Kinko’s… Seriously, just don’t. Put some coal in their stockings and let the little tykes think Santa Claus doesn’t love them anymore, but the birthday pixie really thinks they’re awesome!
Troll the sale ads the night before and plan a strategy. Everyone’s going to be at Walmart, Target, and Toys ‘R Us. Go somewhere else, first. Since you’re not looking for the obvious, the same items people are kicking and scratching each other over, it will be a more pleasant shopping day for you. Go to these other stores AFTER all the crazy, sociopathic, and homicidal people have cleared out. Using a shopping cart while at Target just isn’t worth losing your life over. If you DO go to these stores first, write your name, address, phone number, and next of kin with an indelible marker on your arm so the EMTs know who to call.
Be flexible. Say you’re looking for a blonde Betsy Wetsy doll and all they have are brunettes. So what? Will your darling little girl like it less if it’s not a blonde? If so, now’s a good time to have a discussion with your precious darling about stereotypes and women of all shapes, colors, and ethnic origin are beautiful. Follow this up with a copy of the Marlo Thomas book, Free to Be.. You and Me for Christmas. Still throwing a temper tantrum? Take the doll away and donate it to your local Goodwill. I’ll wager the diminutive darling will love whatever you get her next year, no questions asked.
Don’t drink a lot of liquids leading up to and during this shopping excursion. Remember… It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and trips to the bathroom mean the difference between your dad, brother, boyfriend, or husband getting a handheld straight razor or that beautiful solar powered rotating handheld shaver they’ve wanted for months. When shopping during Black Friday, always, always, always, put the pleasure of others ahead of your own comfort. They’ll love you for it in the long run and will remember that special gift for years. If you can come up with a great, “I wrestled this from a 90-year-old woman to get it for you” kind of story, so much the better. Embellishment is okay at this time of year, particularly if it garners sympathy.
Most importantly, if you’re a cranky tired don’t go at all. No one else gives a rat’s behind that you’re tired and cranky. You look at some people on Black Friday just a little bit sideways and they’re coming after you like a lion chasing an antelope. Sleep in, wake up with the worst case of bed head you’ve ever had in your life, including the time you fell asleep with part of your head sticking out of the car window, and let everyone else be an Attitude-y Judy this year. Rest warm in the knowledge Cyber Monday is coming and you can do all your holiday shopping online. However, for this day, call into work and tell them you’re not coming in and get. Up. Early! This is one of the best days to shop because all the online retailers cut prices so much you want to sing like a Gregorian monk when you see the prices. This… This is why we have computers, the internet, and credit cards.
Do you feel better prepared for the holiday shopping season? Enjoy the season more by doing things in a more relaxing way than you’ve ever done before. Just sit at home and let the suckers fight the crowds.