Black Friday Survival Guide

Black Friday Survival Guide

Black Friday is a bit like enduring the early stages of the zombie apocalypse. At least that’s how it felt in the minutes before midnight last year, when throngs of dead-eyed people loomed in the shadows of the parking lot, looking through all of us waiting in line as they plotted a way to zip past us when Target opened its doors. There were shouts, threats, fist shaking, and even a police intervention and barricades made of shopping carts as employees and line-standers fought to come up with ways to ensure that these Johnny Come-Latelys wouldn’t ruin their chances at the flatscreen, Xbox, or PS4 they’d been waiting so patiently for.

On Black Friday, every mall is a battleground, and every department store a minefield.

It’s just as dangerous to your wallet—you walk in thinking you just need the insanely cheap rice cooker for your Aunt Helga, and before you know it, you’re hoarding a cart full of gadgets and fighting a soccer mom to the ground for a Lalaloopsy doll you don’t need or understand.


Black Friday Survival Kit

Here’s what you need to fuel your Black Friday, making it every bit the adrenaline rush you’ve been craving without the bruises and emotional scarring.

  • Movable clothes that don’t make you look fat, homeless, or make your ex feel relieved that you’re never, ever getting back together. (Like, ever.)You’re going to run into at least five people you know, so look your best.
    • Ladies:Thick leggings or skinnies you can actually move in, oversized sweater (or shirt/sweater combo so you can add/remove layers as the day’s temperature fluctuates), comfy boots, scarf.
      • Minimal jewelry. Wear hoops only if you plan on dramatically taking them off and announcing, “Girl, hold my earrings!” before getting into a fist fight with a fellow customer over aforementioned Lalaloopsy doll. (Not recommended.)
    • Guys: Jeans—no cargo pants, unless you want to spend half the day searching for the pockets you put your keys in—a favorite tee (bonus points for a henley or baseball tee, because we girls can’t resist ’em…or maybe that’s just me), sneakers you can run in when your girlfriend spots the last Tory Burch at the other end of the store
  • A complete war survival kit.Before you schlep your entire medicine cabinet with you, I want to say something: Calm the eff down. Like so many things in life, the day is only as stressful as you make it, so spare your back by only toting the absolute essentials. These include:
    • Grab a roomy tote or messenger bag with compartments to keep your goodies organized.
    • Beauty essentials: lip balm, mascara, tissues, hair ties (2), hand santizer
    • Food: Sandwich baggie full of baby carrots/chopped celery, granola bar, mints, piece of chocolate
    • Drink: Caffeinate thyself! Treat yourself to a coffee, or even a Peppermint Mocha or Gingerbread latte to keep your spirits bright. Toss a bottle of water in your tote and another in your car—you’ll need ’em.
    • Cell phone with car charger (or portable charger)
    • Folder containing your Black Friday Plan of Action and MASTER LIST (see below)
Caffeinate thyself!
There’s something about those red cups that just gets you into the holiday spirit. (Anti-Freshman-15ers, choose nonfat milk and lose the whipped cream to make it a lower-calorie indulgence.)
  • Black Friday Plan of Action (BFPOA)— Don’t walk out that door without it! Pick up a newspaper at the crack o’ dawn on Thanksgiving for all the best sales circulars, or just search online at Many retailers’ ads are already online and available for perusing.
    • On a sheet of paper (or in a notes app on your phone), jot down every person you need to buy for, and write out anything you know you want to buy this person. Write an amount you want to spend per person, then add them all up so you know your Holiday Shopping Budget.Adjust as necessary so you don’t wind up paying rent on all those flashy presents.
      • As you scour the circulars, if you find any perfect matches for gifts, write the find under the person’s name, along with the store, opening hours, and any restrictions on the purchase (Is it only on sale until noon on Friday? Do you have to buy something else in order to get it?). Tear out the page of the circular featuring the product and any coupons, mark the store’s name on the torn page, and stick it in your BFPOA folder.
      • Once you’ve gone through everything, start a new list. This is your BLACK FRIDAY MASTER LIST (yes, it’s so important it deserves all caps). On the MASTER LIST, organize what you need in order of importance and store opening time.The list should be ordered from absolute must-buys to least needed items, then organized by store opening time so you can hit up every place.
        • List the store, opening time, and note whether any coupons are needed/available (and make sure they’re in a resealable baggie in your folder!)
          • Indent. Beneath that, write the name of the item, the price, and in parentheses, who it’s for so you don’t forget.
          • Cross off each one as you go. BOOM!
      • DON’T try to do all your holiday shopping on Black Friday. Sure, there are deals, but you shouldn’t let the sales tempt you into buying something a person won’t really want just to check it off your list.

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