7 Ways to Keep Black Friday Fun & Festive

Deny Christmas as much as you want halfway through November, we all know it’s coming. I, for one, am OK with that. I love Thanksgiving too, don’t get me wrong, but to me it’s all part of one big wonderful holiday stretch. With the quickly approaching season are coming the Black Friday announcements and ads. Will you contribute to the madness?

Here’s the thing, shopping on Black Friday, does not mean you have be ‘mad’, or grinchy or just in it for the best deals. In fact, my experiences have brought fun and festive memories and I think that can be the case for anyone.

Some people are obviously in this only for the hot deals, and if that’s you then you should stop reading now. This is for the people who, sure, want a deal, but are also in it for the fun.

1. Wait until Black FRIDAY

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With the trend of Black Friday hours starting earlier and earlier, people will eventually wonder why we even call it Black “Friday”.  While I love Christmas, I love the entire holiday season and that includes Thanksgiving and even the events and days leading up to that last Thursday of November. Enjoy what Thanksgiving is and enjoy the time relaxing after that big glorious meal with people you love. Don’t rush through that special time just to go stand in line half of the holiday.

But also keep in mind the bigger picture beyond yourself and what shopping on Thursday means. By partaking in the early shopping on Thanksgiving Day, you are encouraging more and more stores to start their sales earlier, meaning over time, more and more people will be asked to sacrifice their holiday to go into work. I am so grateful to have always enjoyed a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving, but some are not so fortunate. It may not be a big deal to you to spend the end of your Thanksgiving shopping–especially if it’s with friends–but other people are spending it at work.  Those stores starting Black Friday earlier and earlier and eating into more and more people’s holiday weekends and one day it might affect you. (Like your kids not being able to come to Thanksgiving dinner!)

2. Don’t shop for yourself

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Make your outing is about what Christmas shopping should be about–giving. Shop for others. Sure, you might see something you just can’t resist, but for me, real shopping joy comes in being able to shop for others. Shop for your kids, your friends. Find joy in having an opportunity to shop for MORE people because you are find such great deals. Don’t just take advantage of deals for yourself. I once talked to a couple who had a cart full of toys. At first glance, it almost seemed extreme, but as we talked we came to find out that not only were many of the gifts for a child they had chosen from the Salvation Army Angel Tree, but their motive was so touching. They experienced a miscarriage during their parenthood journey and felt, had that child lived, they would be spending money on him every Christmas. They instead spend that same money on another child who is likely not to be gifted much. That is the spirit of Christmas shopping.

3. Add at least one goal to your list that is a charity buy.

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It takes very little effort to find a charity or event happening near you that is taking up gifts for children and families who would greatly appreciate gifts this Christmas. If you have children or young people shopping with you on Black Friday, this is also a great way to teach them the true spirit of Christmas and have them help pick out what gift(s) to buy that will go to someone else. Here are a few ways you can find others to shop for during the holidays:

  • Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army Angel Trees are just two that come immediately to mind.
  • You likely have local churches and organizations doing similar drives.
  • You may even know people personally who may not be receiving much, if anything, this year. Playing Santa for these people would be awesome.

4. Go with a group that loves Christmas as much as you.

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In one of my few Black Friday outings, I remember seeing a group at checkout that had matching custom-made Black Friday shirts. (And this was before graphic tees were the big hit they are today. Now you can get all sorts of fun Black Friday shopping tees.)  They told me how the late night/early morning shopping extravaganza was a fun tradition they had done together for a number of years. You could tell by their faces that the joy was in the shared tradition and not in any of the deals they were finding.

My first time shopping on Black Friday was about 12 years ago. It was long before I had kids to shop for, but I went with my cousin who did have young kids. She invited me along for her mid-night waking to drive 90-minutes to get to Lexington where she could hit up Toys-R-Us and the mall. I accepted the invite and had the best time and did not even have any shopping to do for myself. (I can’t even say I bought anything!) But it was such a fun experience. For one, she and I were at different states in life (college vs. motherhood), so it was quality time we never got together anymore, but it is still a special memory of driving in the dark, waiting in the cold, meeting interesting people, and just kicking off Christmas. My memory has nothing to do with deals and presents and it’s a great memory.

5. Do something festive with your time.

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You may be out for the purpose of shopping and maybe you are even shopping with major purpose. (Special deals for your family or your kids…) But with the close of Thanksgiving, it is sort of an unspoken but socially known rule that no one can give you a hard time about being in full-on Christmas mode. (Well, people can, but now you are on the winning side.) By no means do I judge those who play music or put up a tree before Thanksgiving, but for those who do complaining, they usually shut up after Thanksgiving. So Black Friday, beyond shopping, is the day the holiday season can officially begin, so celebrate the day that way. And I think most Christmas-lovers would say their love of the season is not about gifts and shopping. Here are just a few simple ways to spread holiday cheer when out and about.

  • Bring a bluetooth speaker and play Christmas music while you wait in line for your store to open. (You could sing, but if you are like me, you know that’s not going to brighten many moods!)
  • Bring an extra large carafe of coffee or hot chocolate to share with those in line around you.
  • Dress extra festive to really put on display your love for Christmas.

6. Don’t shop at all.

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I’ve always been blessed with a job that let me have the Friday after Thanksgiving off and Mingus has shared this blessing since we have been together. Some are not so fortunate, but if you do have the day, it does not have to be used shopping for it to be special or festive. The primary reason I have not done Black Friday shopping much is because of a family tradition that started a little over a decade ago that has become the main gathering for my parents and siblings for the holiday: Wood Day. My siblings and our families gather at my parent’s the night of Thanksgiving for laughs, leftovers and drinks and a toast to the holiday season. The next morning we are up bright and early with our warm clothes and work gloves to help my parents gather and split firewood for the coming winter. My parents heat their home with a wood-burning stove and while it just sounds like a bunch of work to most, it is always a fun day. With so many of us, an oftentimes other family friends showing up, no one is ever too stressed with work. We also enjoy good food, lots of leftover desserts and more time to catch up. With four of us siblings, all adults with our own lives and families, getting us all together does not happen often, but this is a set event we can count on happening each year.

Your ‘Black Friday’ tradition does not have to be even as elaborate as this, but making the day special can be a tradition. If you are blessed with a day of no work find a way to make the day special. Here is a list of ideas.

7. Don’t forget about Small Business Saturday

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While you may not get the big box deal prices, don’t forget that following Black Friday is Small Business Saturday, and it’s worth saving some of your money for this shopping event. This is a great way to be in the Christmas spirit with your shopping by spending money with businesses and people where it makes a real difference. These places are likely to run specials and deals, but you might also find some personal charm by hitting their brick and mortars–free coffee and door prizes. Shopping local and small is a way of giving back in and of itself. With today’s technology (social media, Paypal, etc.) it is easier for all of us to have our own businesses both on the streets and in our own homes. Find out from your area and your friends who will be participating in SBS and even if you don’t shop, maybe you can show up and/or introduce others to your friends’ businesses. (PS–> Look for a #shopsmall #shoplocal post in the near future!)

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