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Black Friday deals on kids' toys

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

How to save big on toys

Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is the official kick-off of the holiday shopping season. For the best bargains on kids' toys (and the least hassle), you need to have a solid game plan.

Christmas toys under the tree

Traditionally, Black Friday is the day when retailers cross the line to profitability for the year. With early opening hours and big sales, it's also a day for you to get great deals on all your holiday gifts for the kids.

Scour the web

In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, ads will start "leaking" online with clues on some of the best deals of the season. Spend some time on the internet researching and creating your shopping list. Have a detailed plan of all the toys and games you want to buy, along with an alternate gift idea for each recipient. Don't forget necessary accessories. Special Black Friday sites such as BlackFriday.com and bfads.net are the best places to start to locate all the leaked ads and early details about the sales. Slickdeals.net, FatWallet.com and other deal websites also have great information.

Read the fine print

When looking at the Black Friday ads, pay special attention to the quantities advertised. Some stores offer very limited quantities at the discount price. Call ahead and see if they will offer rain checks. If they won't, then that particular store might not be worth the trip. The purpose of these types of specials is to just get you into the store so that you'll buy something else.

Get an early start

If you are planning to shop on Black Friday, hit the stores early. While in past years stores opened around 5 a.m. on Black Friday, nowadays many major retailers open as early as 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night! People line up hours before the store opens to buy the biggest discounted items. Some stores even hand out vouchers for items to try to prevent any fighting over the hottest items. When you arrive, grab the first parking space you can. While it's nice to park close to the store, it's nicer to find the items you want most -- so save time and walk the extra steps. When you are at the store, stick to your list. The biggest money and time waster is when you start browsing the stores and making impulse buys.

Woman Christmas shoppingDecide where to shop

When it comes to the best toy deals on Black Friday, some of the top places to shop for deals are obvious: Toys "R" Us, Target and Walmart. However, you shouldn't overlook some of the other hot toy spots too: Big Lots, JC Penney, KB Toys, Kmart, Kohl's and Sears. Also keep in mind that you can find some amazing toy deals online at Amazon.com and other retailers from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

Don't buy just to buy

The biggest mistake you can make when toy shopping on Black Friday is to get desperate and start buying things just to buy something. If the items you are looking for are sold out, don't start panicking and buying toys that are overpriced, shoddy or not what you really want. Be patient. You can find many deals leading up to the holidays and don't need to get all your shopping done on Black Friday.

More shopping tips

In some cases, it pays to shop before Black Friday. For example, Toys "R" Us is allowing holiday shoppers to reserve toys on its "hot" list for free. Customers have to make a 20-percent down payment in-store by Oct. 31 and pick up items by Dec. 16. You won't save big, but you'll at least guarantee that you'll get some of the hottest toys of the season.

Target is making it easier for you to find the toys you are looking for in stores. Beginning on Oct. 14, they will have QR codes on their top 20 toys along the main aisles of stores. Customers can just scan the QR code to purchase the item from their smartphone and then have it shipped to a U.S. address for free.

Read more about the holidays

Electronic gifts for teens
Eco-friendly stocking stuffers
Hot gifts for tots, kids and teens

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