Yes, I am one of those crazy people who waits in lines and wakes up at a ridiculous hour on Black Friday. I blame it on my mother. Since I was a teenager the ladies in my family have rolled out of bed at who-knows-when and waited for snow globes, ornaments, and other doorbusters. We didn't even bother to change out of our pajamas before throwing on our heaviest coats. And before morning's end we would be victorious with bags and special breakfast treats in hand. Back then sales actually started on Friday.

While my love for Black Friday is time-honored, I've been surprised at how much of a monster it has turned into. Sales start on Thursday or earlier now! I do love getting inexpensive goodies, but I also cherish the spirit of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is about gathering as family and expressing our gratitude for our blessed lives. No matter how big Black Friday's black hole becomes I will not forget the real reason to celebrate. With this being said, I will be going out at some point this year and if you do decide to go as well, I've got some tips for you.

Have a Plan
Before Thanksgiving we will sit down and make a game plan. You can pick up the Thanksgiving newspaper to physically have the ads. Often those ads also have exclusive coupons. There are also great sites out there to make your job easier. One I like is You can view all the ads electronically, search for specific items, and make a wish list. Before we leave the house we know the shops to visit, when they open, and what to buy. You may have to do some homework but this will overall make your shopping trip go smoother.

Go With Friends
If you’re going to brave crowds and lines why not do it with friends? We often have friends join us as we do our shopping. Also, you can use numbers to your advantage. One person can hold places in line while the others shop and then change places. Like most things, having a friend alongside makes the event more memorable.

Remember, It's Just Stuff
You may not get that highly sought for item and that's okay. I know you just waited over an hour in line, but unless you're first nothing is guaranteed. Is the discount on that TV worth being nasty to that stranger who cut in line and thus killing your mood? Probably not.

Keep Yourself Nourished
If you're doing a lot of shopping, make sure and get a snack or bring one along. Doing so is likely to improve your mood, keep you fueled, and it also makes the trip more fun. We will often get a yummy treat or novel hot chocolate to get us through the morning.

Can you see me with all the layers?
Know Your Limitations
You have to know when you're done. If you've stayed up late or woken up early, there will come a point that the lack of sleep will hit you. If you have lost your cool because of a sold out item and your spirit is destroyed, you need to be able to recognize that after that point shopping won't be fun. People get grouchy and your Black Friday experience is now the equivalent of going to the DMV. Be willing and ready to recognize when it's time to go home.

Another aspect of this is recognizing what kind of crowds you’re willing to brave. There are two major retailers my mother refuses to shop at on Black Friday because of the chaos that unfolds. So we go to smaller stores instead. Try to think, is that discount worth the level of discomfort required to attain it?

I like to think of Black Friday as a part of Thanksgiving in the sense that I get to spend time with family and make memories. I hope these tips help you do the same!

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