Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Traditions, Part 1--The Shopping

Christmas is a time for family and traditions. I thought I'd use the four Mondays between now and Christmas to share a few of our family traditions as well. If you'd like to participate and share some of your own, I'll have a link up next Monday, so start thinking.

This post could be all about my adventures on Black Friday--like how I scored the deal of the day not at 3 AM but at 9:30 AM and at Toys R Us of all places (but people who read my blog can't know about that score just yet), or how I discovered Karen's deep dark underwear secret (but won't disclose the details), or how Kohl's wasn't worth our time, or how I hit Target three times that day, or how I actually spent fourteen straight hours shopping (2 AM to 4 PM).

Instead, this post is a strategy post--how to successfully navigate Black Friday.  Remember, these are my tips from years of experience.  Many mistakes.  Some successes.  And you can file these away until next year!

Tip #1--Make a plan of attack.  If there is one item on your list that is a must-have, then plan accordingly.  Set aside buffer time before that store opens to wait in line outside--up to an hour, depending on the store.  It will be worth it when you get inside.  If that one desired item is at Toys R Us, give up now.  The store is a zoo and always poorly managed for the amount of traffic they get. I heard people complain that, even though the store opened at 10 PM the night before, it was still a 4-6 hour experience.  Not worth my time to save $20 on a wagon.

Tip #2--Don't set your heart on any one item.  You're doomed for disappointment.  Be ready to roll with the punches.  Sometimes you get what you're after.  Sometimes you don't.  That's part of the game.

Tip #3--Wear something that makes you easy to spot in a crowd--you will get separated, I guarantee it.  And cell phones were invented for this day, I'm sure of it.  Can you spot Karen?
Tip #4--Carry a sizable amount of cash.  Some stores have express lines for cash-only purchases.  This little tidbit saved us hours in line at Best Buy one year.

Tip #5--Get in and get out.  Only grab what's on your list and try to head for the checkout as quickly as possible.  This is a rookie mistake, so don't get distracted by the $9.99 toasters.  You weren't here for that, remember?  Karen and I were actually a bit rusty on this point this year--huge mistake at Kohl's.  We were in line almost an hour.  We didn't go last year since Evie was a month old, and it took a little while for us to work out the kinks.

Tip #6--Have a sense of humor about it.  This really is the best day of the season to shop.  Everyone who's out is there because they want to be, not because Christmas is in three days and they still haven't found a Zhu Zhu pet.  There are some Grinches out there, a few rude people, and a few who won't follow the unwritten code of Black Friday (including don't cut in line and don't cut in line).  But for the most part, everyone is still full of the Christmas spirit.  Enjoy it. I think we wore these the first time they were in style.
Tip #7--Don't have high hopes of things getting done at home in your absence.  We had been out for almost seven hours (around 9 AM) when I decided to text home and see how things were going.  This is the text I got back when I asked how Evie was (and I quote):

"Great.  Like a little human raised by wolves on the tundra, scruffling happily in her own dirt and poo and eating whatever she finds on the ground."

Tip #7A--Don't let messages like this distract you from your duties.  In Brad's defense, I came home to a fairly clean house where all the Christmas lights had been hung.  So sometimes you get a good surprise!
Tip #8--Eat frequently and caffeine will be your friend.  Need I say more?
Tip #9--Try to get as much accomplished as you can physically handle.  I actually got completely done this year--aside from one small purchase still needed at Old Navy (the line was insufferable) and one item I need to order online.  Completely done--even stockings.  That is the first time I've accomplished it.  It's always been that elusive carrot on the stick, but I did it this year.  And I can't wait to enjoy the rest of the season without the distraction and pressure of shopping still looming over me.

Tip #10--This one is really the key to an enjoyable Black Friday.  It is imperative that you find someone who shops exactly like you--hurries at the right times and dawdles at the right times.  Someone who can stand the sight of your 2 AM face all day long.  We weren't that cute, but we were productive. 

Karen:  Thirteen years, and we can still hang with the young 'uns.  Thanks for a fantastic day.  I wouldn't dream of doing it without you!

What are your holiday shopping secrets?  I'd love to hear!

Next Week: Holiday Decorating Traditions


  1. I'm DYING at Brads text to you. Not surprised, but utterly amused none the less! Oh he slays me!

    Clearly you ladies have! So glad you got everything you needed, which is QUITE a feat, considering you have a million kids.

    You're right, Old Navy was REDONKULOUS!!!

  2. Next year I'm gonna go for it!! I've been too intimidated to even go! But if you're in the right frame of mind, it sounds like a lot of fun.

  3. This year was my first time at 3am Black Friday shopping! Crazy stuff! It was so good to see you at Kohl's, but it was not good to spend AN HOUR in their dumb line without a bag or cart to hold all of our stuff!

  4. You're right...having the right shopping partner makes all the difference! Looks like you have a great one!
    Super tips!
    I'm going to enjoy Cyber Monday! :)

  5. I do black friday randomly. 2 years ago my best friend and I headed out on black friday at about 9 am and still succeeded in getting our whole Christmas list done. This year my sister and I went with one specific item in mind (a tv with $300 savings). We braved the cold and the lack of sleep and the crackiness that comes after 7hours in line. Yep 7hours. But we got what we went for and were done! LOL

  6. P.S. I will not be posting a picture of me on Black Friday LOL I will just say pj pants and my snuggie were involved :)

  7. As a Canadian I have to say this is all very bizarre and peculiar to me... but also very fascinating. The closest we have here is Boxing Day sales the day after Christmas. I am so very impressed you are all done. I can't even fathom that? Makes me want to get more organized.

  8. Looks like you guys really enjoyed your Black Friday experience this year :) It's great that you got almost all your shopping done in one day...even though you spend *fourteen* hours on it. FOURTEEN!!! Wow, you have mad shopping skills indeed!

    You are totally right about having the perfect shopping partners. When I did it the past, I would always go with my sister. We would always end up not buying anything but it was the experience and the bonding experience that we loved more than anything else :)

  9. First of all, I'm still chuckling from that text - hilarious! And, clearly I have so much to learn from you ... you're the obi wan kenobi of black friday!! I'm a total rookie as I read this with my eyes wide and my mouth hanging open ;-)

  10. LOVED THE TEXT! Hilarious!
    And your tips are spot on!
    Go get what you went out for and leave.
    Mr. W left to get a 32" TV and came back with a 42"...rookie that he is. LOL
    I can't complain tho, b/c I wasn't willing to get up that TV is much more interesting when it's so big!
    Sounds like your BF was a total success!

  11. I've never done Black Friday but for some reason I enjoyed reading your tips. My husband calls this day, "The largest gathering of women with no makeup!"

  12. Love it! Black Friday is such an adventure, can't believe you made it 14 hours though-crazy woman! And, just so you know-I saw a fashion segment on the Today show this morning, and they were cluing us in on trends set by Kate Middleton (Prince William's Fiance) and Berets were one of the tips. You fashionista you!

  13. ROFL AT BRAD'S it!

    as for shopping...ohhh now if i had you and ur friend to go w/i'd go...looks like fun times...but w/lily and her sleep schedule..i don't are to join the crazy ppl for at least a few ohhh 10 years!

    besides i'm a newbie...i'd need a pro like you to go w/!

  14. YES we ROCKED it!! Pictures should be optional! I do not rock the beanie hat!

    Great day!

  15. I'd say you were both cute AND productive.


    PS. I am jealous that your best friend still lives near you. Mine left nearly ten years ago, and I miss her as much today as I did the day the moving truck drove away.

    Maybe more.

  16. Quite impressive! I only lasted for 9 hours, but wasn't organized enough to finish. Next year, I would like to have everything purchased BEFORE black Friday so I can just sleep... except that I do have a super great time with my sisters!

    ps. We walked into kohls and then back out... that was ridiculous!

  17. You are amazing!
    I have a few things done and the out-of-province and out-of-country packages mailed. I can't imagine going to a Black Friday though, even if we had it up here.

  18. OOO so this is how Black Friday is all about. If you have a good friend to chat to, it would make the lines so much more bareable.

    (PS Oh my goodness Grandma Honey's comment is SOO funny!)

  19. Go you! seriously, all done in one day, with 10 people to shop for!?! that's amazing.

    Being in the one kid club has some perks, and this is one of them- I've had the big shopping done for a long time.

    Mostly it's because I'm sort of a grinch and don't want my only child to be a spoiled only child, and not due to any planning or foresight on my part.