Shop with a plan on Black Friday

Only the strong survive Black Friday: Don’t head into this without a strategy — and snacks.

Black Friday is a delicate balancing act between scoring as many great deals as possible and not turning into a crazed shopping Grinch. It’s not a day for amateurs, so we hit up Dana Holmes, editor-in-chief of Gifts.com, for some expert tips on saving money and sanity.

Buy thoughtful gifts, not cheap stuff:
It’s hard to say no to a great sale, but don’t just buy cashmere scarves because they’re half-off for another hour. “Remember that a great deal isn’t always a great gift,” says Holmes. “Make sure you have a list of who you’re shopping for, a budget for each person and some ideas for each person. I like to put some adjectives next to their names along with some of their favorite stores to stay focused.”

Keep your receipts
: You will make impulse buys that you regret — it’s part of the day. “Keep a zippered pouch in your purse to keep your designated Black Friday receipts,” advises Holmes. “You don’t want to misplace any — you’re buying a lot of stuff, you’re excited and when you get home you may realize you don’t want all of it.”

Bum a ride: “I’m a big advocate for carpooling,” says Holmes. “Go with your shopping buddies and you can save a parking space and gas, which is a hot commodity right now.” Not to mention, it’s nice to have company in the parking-garage traffic — because oh, yes, that is a real thing that happens.

Cross-check for online deals: Some deals, such as doorbusters, are strictly in-store offers. But increasingly, retailers are offering the same sales online with plenty of perks. “If you see something you like, check it out on your phone — sometimes it can actually be just as cheap to buy it online, get it shipped and get it gift-wrapped for free,” says Holmes. “Then you don’t have to lug it around all day.”

Don’t fake being an early bird:
Ultimately, Black Friday should be a silly, fun way to kick off the holiday season. If waiting in the dark for Best Buy’s doors to open isn’t your deal, sleep in and skip the door-buster deals. “It’s more about the camaraderie — it’s for a special kind of person who really enjoys that,” says Holmes of the 5 a.m. openings. “Everybody else, just go when you want. There will be lines, parking will be tough, things will run out — you have to enjoy it for it to be worth it.”

Gift-list assist: Before you make your list and check it twice, head on over to Gifts.com and take the gift “personality quiz.” It can help you figure out what to buy for your picky fashionista sister before you melt down at the Cinnabon stand.


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