Thanksgiving may be the great feast day, but for many, it’s the day after that has moms celebrating.
Black Friday carries the anticipation of getting your entire Christmas list knocked out cheaply and efficiently in one day.
Or maybe not.
I’ve had successful and unsuccessful Black Fridays, and trust me, to get the former, you need to strategize. Here are some tips to remember before hitting the aisles:
1. Gather all the pertinent information you need to effectively shop. Who needs a gift? What are their preferences? Where do they shop?
2. When it comes to clothing, what are their sizes, favorite colors and most complementary styles? (It's not a good idea to get a caftan for someone who should be wearing straight lines.)
3. When it comes to household items, what is their color scheme and style of décor? It doesn’t make sense to give something frilly to someone whose home is ultracontemporary.
4. When it comes to recreational items, what do they already have? Is your gift meant to complement it, as in a game, attachment or accessory? My son gave me a couple of really specific suggestions for computer games and reiterated—twice—that they were for PC.
He reminded me—twice—that we no longer have an Xbox. I’ve heard plenty of stories from moms who have bought games during sales that were not for the right equipment, which created disappointment Christmas morning.
5. Check out advertised sales. That doesn’t mean just in the media; go to the actual store you think will have your desired items and see if it is promoting a Black Friday sale. Ask the clerks—yes, many will tell you! Keep a log of where you’ve been and what was available there.
6. Go on the store websites and see if they’ll offer you a deal if you buy online—many do! You’ll save gas and time if you can order it through the Web; however, you may incur shipping costs, and it’ll be up to you to decide if the gas money saved is worth the mailing expense. Some websites will waive shipping costs on Black Friday.
7. Check store websites for coupons and see if the coupons can be used in addition to any Black Friday discounts. You may find you get a better deal holding off until after the holiday sale and using the coupon if it can’t be used on sale items.
8. Map out your route. Which stores are in the same proximity? You waste gas zigzagging around town if you don’t have a plan of what you’re buying and where.
9. Gas up your car a day or two ahead of time, and have snacks stashed in it for “refueling” between stops. You may decide to eat at one of the shopping centers as part of the experience, but in the event you don’t, you’re going to get hungry!
10. Dress comfortably but not like a slob. The metro Atlanta area is no different from most of the world when it comes to service: If you dress for respect, you're more likely to get it from the clerks.
11. Keep your receipts and your shopping bags. Both will make it easier to return items if your gifts didn’t quite hit the mark.
12. Hide your purchases in your vehicle. I usually make sure I take the car with the trunk. And if I think someone’s watching to see where I parked, I either take the long way to my car, or head to a security guard and strike up a conversation until the person—or feeling—goes away.
A lot of thefts happen this time of year, and you don’t want someone to do their “shopping” in your vehicle because they liked what they saw in the window.
13. Don’t let yourself be distracted at the register by something that looks like a “great buy.” As my late mother used to say, “It’s not a bargain if you don’t need it!” There’s a reason why they call it “Black Friday”—it’s the day stores count on to get into black ink instead of red on their account books. Just make sure it’s not at your expense!
Do you have any Black Friday shopping tips? Let us know in the comments.