Get Ready for the Holidays: Black Friday Survival Guide

Many of us have dreams of snagging the perfect gifts at the best prices… even if it means dealing with the Black Friday (or Thursday) scene.  Some people LOVE the Black Friday events and make a huge adventure of it!  No matter which one of those camps you fall in, here are some tips to get your plan together for this week’s big in-store sales!  Shop safe, and may the odds be ever in your favor! 🙂

black friday

Before You Head Out:

Get a Game Plan:

  • Check out the deals you really want. Great sites already load the deals by store. Search for “Black Friday Ads” and you’ll find plenty of great sites that can help.

  • Be sure to check out social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, for any last minute deals.

  • Research store policies to see if you need any coupons printed out, who offers rainchecks, and who price-matches.  Bring those ads with you (much easier to ask for a price match at a store you’re buying 3 other things than to make a special trip to another store for one item).

  • Create your list, so that you’re sure to go after what you want, and not leave without forgetting anything:

    • Store

    • Item

    • Price

    • Time? (if it’s a doorbuster)

    • Quantity or Limit

  • Plan your route, keeping in mind when stores open, when the door busters you’re seeking are, and the easiest way to drive there. You don’t want to be heading all the way north, then all the way south, just to go all the way north again, if you can avoid it.

Make a List:

  • Who are you buying for this year?

  • What do they want?

  • What size do they wear, or preferences do they have? You might not have a great opportunity to ponder and choose…

  • Set your budget for each person. And stick to it!

Make a Plan by Store:

  • What opens when?

  • Are there Door Busters you’re hoping to get? What time?

  • What stores are on the way to other destinations?

On Your Adventure:

Bring Prepared:

  • If you’re camping out to wait for a store opening, make sure you’ve got with you extra clothing to keep warm (it’s going to be a cold week all over this country, not just in New England!), a thermos with hot coffee, a foldable chair and your patience! Better yet: Bring a friend, to keep you company and to hold your place on line when you have to find a restroom.

  • Bring some reusable bags with larger capacity, which can help you consolidate if you’re walking from store to store

  • Have a water bottle, some snacks, and some pain relief medicine, for achy heads and feet.

  • Wear comfy shoes, and layers. You might find some stores are warm, and you’ll want to easily take off your coat. If you can, leave the coat in the car.

  • If you’re planning on eating at some point in a restaurant, just remember that everyone else is planning to do the same thing.  Pick an off-the-beaten path place you can sit and have a meal, or plan to go at an off-time, like 10:30 for “lunch”.

Be Safe:

  • Remember Where you Parked Your Car.  Take a picture of your car with a recognizable background, and make a note of which store door you entered.

  • Lock items in the trunk, not the back seat.

  • Keep your phone charged, and make sure the people you shop with have their phones, too.

  • Bring a very limited wallet with you. One credit or debit card and a small amount of cash, kept in a secure pocket or a purse you carry close to you is much less likely to be misplaced or stolen than trying to keep track of a larger purse.

  • Drive safely, and remember that not everyone else will. The streets and parking lots will be filled with competitive people, trying to beat the clock and the crowds, and they may not have safe driving on the top of their minds.

Shop Smart:

  • Set time limits, especially when shopping with others. “Meet back here at xx”. Set alarms to remind you.

  • Bring an envelope with you to hold every receipt, keep them all in one place.

  • Ask for gift receipts before the cashier starts to ring you up.

  • Have a friend with you?  Maybe your friend can get on the register line while you start shopping… by the time you’re ready, your friend may be in a great place in line.

  • Make good use of your down time; you’re going to be waiting on some lines. If you have a smart phone, catch up on email, or have a game to play.  Catch up on phone calls (bring your earbuds). Read a book on your e-reader. Eat a healthy snack. Figure out where you are against your budget.

  • Be nice to the sales people. They’re dealing with crazy people all day. Don’t be one of them. Go out of your way to make sure you are friendly and you thank them. They’re not the reason that 20 people already beat you to the doorbuster, and it’s not their fault that the item didn’t come up at the price you thought it would. They’re giving up a holiday so that you can get some deals.

Happy Shopping!




  1. Rebecca Stapler

    I’m glad you mentioned being nice to the salespeople. I’m always amazed when customers are rude to salespeople who are overwhelmed when there is a big sale! At the end of one of my CVS runs, I always thank the cashier. During the big sale yesterday, I felt like tipping her, she was so nice and patient!

  2. Suzanne

    I just cannot stand all of the “HYPE” about Black Friday!! I have been seeing it, reading about it, and just can’t seem to get away from it no matter where I am. I was in a store in SEPTEMBER, and saw that they were decorating for Thanksgiving AND Christmas at the SAME TIME as they were having their “Back to school sales” and decorating for Halloween!!!! COME ON FOLKS!!
    I TOTALLY think that people are being bombarded with material items when the REAL issue here SHOULD be enjoying family and friends and enjoying just being together!! Look at some of the horrific “events” of this past year around OUR world!!! Has the bottom line become Ca-ching? It’s those material items that can be either replaced or else do without. PEOPLE CANNOT BE REPLACED!!! Let’s get our REAL priorities straight here everybody!

    • Clever Girl Organizing

      I hear ya, Suzanne. For some people, shopping together and finding great gifts for their loved ones IS how they show their friends and family they love them. Or it’s the big event that people share together, no different than going to an amusement park. That said, it’s important we all make sure we’re spending our money wisely, and using our space in our homes wisely, and not fill it up with unnecessary stuff.. and there’s a lot of temptation to do the opposite on Black Friday! Glad to see you’re focusing on the values that mean the most to you.


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