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Black Friday. For decades, this day has marked the start of the holiday shopping season. Most fashionistas look forward to Black Friday with both excitement and anxiety. On one hand, you’ve got the thrill of the deal, mixed in with some hearty competition (you’re not going to let some other shopper grab that last doorbuster before you do). On the other hand, you also have to contend with overstuffed parking lots, crowds and long lines.
Keeping the stress level low is not easy. But I’ve found one trick that gets me through Black Friday successfully, and that’s the art of listing.
How to Write Your Black Friday Shopping List
Back in the day, my holiday shopping list had only one column, and it was a list of names. Sometimes I’d try to define a specific gift for each person, but mostly I’d just wing it. Over time, I realized my lack of planning had two outcomes:
First, I wasn’t buying very good gifts. (One year, I seriously bought two of my siblings bathroom humor t-shirts. Who does that? It was like I didn’t even know I was making bad decisions. I had the unfortunate realization when these presents were opened. I remember my brother’s face was like, um, yeah, I’ll never wear this. Embarrassing!)
Secondly, holiday shopping had become an exercise in frustration. Shopping is supposed to be empowering and fun. Keep it that way by learning the art of the Black Friday shopping list.
1. Profile each of your recipients
Write a short profile for each person on your gift list. You don’t need a novella or psycho-analysis. You just need some basic info to keep you from veering off-course. For example:
- Interests and hobbies (and any stores that specialize in those hobbies)
- Gifts you’ve purchased for this person in the past that you know she’s used and enjoyed
- The topic of conversation that last time you spoke
- Fun things you’ve done together
Jotting down these notes will probably spark some gift ideas right off the bat. Go ahead and document those ideas, but don’t be too rigid about them. You want some flexibility to adjust if you can’t find the exact gift you had in mind.
2. Set your budget
You have an overall holiday shopping budget and a list of people. I don’t like to divide the budget by the number of gifts I need to buy–simply because I spend more on some people than others. Divide your list into categories that reflect how much you want to spend. For example, you probably want to spend more on your closest relatives and less on your co-workers. So you could have three sections: close friends and relatives, second-tier friends and relatives, and then co-workers.
Divide up your overall budget accordingly. Then put a number next to each name on your list. Here’s the important part: the number is a guide, and it mostly represents value. You can buy a cashmere sweater for 75% off, and your gift recipient doesn’t need to know you got a smokin’ deal.
3. Document Black Friday sale opps
Once your list is ready, you should have a good idea of where you need to shop. Start researching these stores, and note when their Black Friday sales start and end. When there are time conflicts, I like to prioritize department stores over specialty stores–you can just get so much more done at a store like Kmart vs. a place like Claire’s.
You already know Kmart has a ton of gift options for kids to coworkers to grandparents. This year, you can get a headstart two ways. Kmart.com will feature discounts across a broad selection of products on Wednesday, November 25. Or try Kmart’s doorbuster shopping, starting at 6:00 am on Thursday, November 26. Standout deals available in store include:
For the kids
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Extendable Lightsaber; sale price $4.99, reg. price $9.99
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Classic 20” Figures; sale price $9.99, reg. price $19.99
For the decorator
- Dakota Spruce 6 ft. unlit tree; sale price $15.00, reg. price $49.99
- Poinsettia; sale price $0.89, reg. price $2.99 – $4.99
- Up to 50% off holiday lights; reg price $2.99 – $29.99
For the cook
- Proctor Silex appliances; sale price $3, reg. price $9.99
For the techie
- Swift Stream Z-9 Camera Drone; sale price $59.99, reg. price $99.99
4. Make a shopping itinerary
Map out where you want to go, and how much time you can spend in each store. Be realistic here. You’re not going to swoop in and out of Kmart in an hour on Black Friday. Leave time for parking, chasing down Bluelight specials and waiting in line.
I also like to set aside time for online shopping, which is ideal for buying specialty items.
5. Plan on rewarding yourself
Shopping is supposed to be fun! Keep it that way–even when you’re fighting off other shoppers for deals–by including gifts for you on your Black Friday list. I usually grab a white chocolate mocha for the road, and then pick up a few small indulgences while I’m out, such as:
- Body soak to help you relax after a hard day of shopping
- OPI nail color in a sparkly berry for holiday parties
- Eos lip balm in blackberry nectar
- Burt’s Bees Beewax hand creme
- A good book
Everything I need to relax after a long day! And, these make great stocking stuffers for fashionistas too. Now if budget were no issue, I’d obviously go for much grander rewards. (You think I could somehow put a world shopping tour on layaway?) But the goal here is to indulge in small rewards to keep me motivated on Black Friday and throughout the holiday shopping season.
At this point, you have a list of gift recipient profiles, you know where the Black Friday sales are, and you know what stores you have to hit before the day is done. You’ve also set aside some time and budget to reward yourself. You’re ready for the biggest shopping day of the year. Good luck ladies.