Thursday, November 15, 2012

Plan your strategy at home before venturing out on Black Friday

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Black Friday is coming! On Thursday afternoon - when everyone is kicking back and letting the turkey and mashed potatoes settle to make room for the pumpkin pie - I will be scanning the sales fliers and websites. Not for me (well, partly for me) but mostly as part of our coverage of the event which attracts shoppers from all over. 

One year I ran into a group of women from Windsor, Ontario who don't just shop but plan their pilgrimage to America weeks in advance.

They begin by booking two rooms in a five-star hotel. Since they are all close friends and because it is considered a holiday trip they choose accommodations that are enjoyable rather than just convenient. The hotel has to have a nice restaurant and lounge or pool area -- where they can relax when they arrive and chill once the shopping is done. Naturally it needs to be within close vicinity of all the action. Having celebrated Thanksgiving with the family back in October they are able to begin their holiday on Wednesday.  

By the time I ran into them that Friday morning they had already netted most of the big items on their wish list including a van full of video gaming chairs they got for 50 percent off. 

What makes their trips successful is they plan ahead. They look over their list of gifts they need to buy, browse through the fliers, then create a trip ticket with alternate routes in case things get crazy or the items they want are sold out. This also eliminates the urge to buy on impulse and ultimately end up returning the item days later.

The hardest part is making the list of gifts to buy, which they do at home before the big day. That being said here are a few of their tips for creating a wish list of bargains for Black Friday:

  • Get some ideas from the people on your list - Look over the letters or emails for clues as to what's going on in their life. Did grandma take up a new hobby? How about dad? What's he working on around the house? You might also consider what's going on in your own life. If you're planning a Christmas party at your house you might want to think about the items you'll need for hosting the event.  The cost of holiday tablecloths, napkins and dinnerware is likely to go up afterwards.
  • Consider care packages for teachers, coaches and co-workers - Some of the coolest items you can put in a basket are often less than $5. Assemble a spa package including something like Softsoap's Wintermint Wonderland and Enchanting Sugar Plum body wash, a Lush shower scrub, mini manicure set, mud mask and maybe a box of dark chocolate truffles. Another idea for a care package is hobby items - such as scrapbook or photo supplies. 
  • Foodies love gadgets - Kitchen appliances are always a big part of the Black Friday sales. You'll see everything from donut makers and popcorn poppers to grills with surfaces big enough to cook flapjacks for the entire neighborhood in one sitting. Don't forget the bookstores. They will be celebrating the event as well with clearances on books for every taste. 
  • For the traveler - You might want to consider gifts that make their travel time - be it the commute to work every morning or the long trip overseas more enjoyable. Stores such as Staples, Target and Brookstone carry a variety of electronic gadgets that can make working on the road easier and even more fun. How about something cool and unique even like a personalized passport cover or camera accessories and a mini alarm clock? These are not just great ideas but usually options that won't break the bank. 
  • For the homebody or  DIY  - Those who work on projects at home are always going to appreciate new tools - which are also gifts that go on sale Black Friday. How about a new bride and groom? Do they have a tool kit? Maybe they're planning to fix up the bathroom in their new home. Consider gifts that might compliment the job such as a hamper or brass fixtures? A care package is also good for the DIY as you can fill it with lots of little items he or she might need including a gift card to their favorite home warehouse.

To comment on this column or share your home and gardening ideas, email gina.joseph@macombdaily.com

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