Nothing says “happy holidays” like a stress-filled shopping frenzy with bargain-hunters pushing, yelling and grabbing merchandise out of your hands, right? As Black Friday frustrations reach the boiling point every year and mob-mentality horror stories continue to rise, I bring it down a notch by putting my own calm spin to this day.
No, I don’t opt out of Black Friday completely. Instead, I do “Black Friday Lite,” which allows me to mentally kick-off the Christmas season without being drawn into all of its craziness.
I love everything about Christmas, from the spirit of giving to the celebration of family traditions to the creation of home-baked goodies. Why should I allow the madness of one over-the-top day of consumerism dampen my holiday spirit?
For starters, I don’t skip Thanksgiving by camping out at a store. That’s not the kind of family memory I want to make. I don’t want my kids to look back years from now and say, “Hey, do you remember that one Thanksgiving Mom snagged a big screen TV and saved 60 percent at that doorbuster sale?” I want them to remember our time spent together watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, cooking side dishes to take to Grandma’s feast, eating dinner with extended family and playing football after dinner with their cousins. Real memories don’t revolve around sales discounts.
Also, I don’t do mornings, so 3 a.m. early-bird specials will not win me over. There is absolutely nothing in this world I want to buy badly enough to make me wake up in the middle of the night and go shopping.
Instead, I wake up whenever, head to Panera Bread by myself with all the sales circulars and enjoy a coffee and bagel while mapping out a shopping strategy. I make a list of any good sales I see, cutting out newspaper coupons or searching online for digital deals to bolster my savings. I review my list of gift recipients, thoughtfully thinking over what he or she might enjoy receiving this year. I plan out my shopping excursion so I hit a few stores near each other to avoid a lot of back-and-forth driving. In all, I end up lingering over my Black Friday breakfast for about an hour, leaving focused and refreshed.
By the time I actually get out shopping, it’s usually around 10 to 11 a.m. By then, all the door-buster craziness has subsided. Crowds thin out. Shoppers move at a relaxed pace. People actually smile at each other. Christmas music fills the aisles. Store employees can actually help you now. It’s actually — dare I say it? — enjoyable.
Other benefits of doing Black Friday Lite: I don’t need to fight for parking spaces because, by late morning, plenty of open spots dot the parking lot. I don’t need to do the 100-yard-dash to the electronics department, because my husband is home doing some online shopping, grabbing some of those same “doorbuster” deals offered in-store at 3 a.m. I don’t need to frantically search for anything, because I know that if I don’t find what I’m looking for, I can just try again another day. (In case you haven’t noticed, sales don’t stop after Black Friday.) I do not subscribe to the “must-have” mentality.
After a few hours and several bagfuls of bargains later, I head home. I still score plenty of great deals, but I avoid getting up early, camping out, waiting in long lines, scrambling for parking spots and fighting off hostile customers vying for a limited supply of 50-percent-off merchandise.
And that is how to do Black Friday Lite.