Remember my oldest son, the one that nailed his Christmas tree to the floor? A few years ago I received a victorious phone call from him the day after Thanksgiving.
He was so proud of himself, he had to call the entire family to brag. He just won the Superbowl. The Superbowl of Christmas shopping, that is — Black Friday.
Mom! I conquered Christmas. We are off to eat breakfast. All of our shopping is done and we saved a ton of money. I’m telling you, I got this Christmas thing down.
That phone call inspired a new tradition that his sisters have perfected over the years.
Here’s how it’s done Robinson style.
1. Shop the Ads.
Early Thanksgiving morning, one of us will run out to get the local newspaper to start looking for the best deals. Warning: These papers usually run out early. If you don’t get one first thing, you might be out of luck.
The next step is to look online — that’s usually my job. There are complete sites dedicated to Black Friday deals. One is TheBlackFriday.com, which bills itself as the “official Black Friday” website. It has just about every major store’s sale flyer. Of course, a simple search for “Black Friday deals” will keep you busy for hours.
2. Make a List.
Why not skip a step and make your Christmas list according to the sales only? Now that you know what’s out there, make your shopping list accordingly.
3. Employ Technology.
There are plenty of apps for shopping. Forbes suggests trying Shopular or Zoomingo. Some stores offer free Wi-Fi. If you have the ability to order something online that has run out of stock, it helps to be able to do it on the spot, then move on.
Last year my girls used their iPad. They used it to check product availability, find coupons, and keep up their shopping list. All in real time and easily shared.
4. Build a Team.
Don’t try this alone. Black Friday all-night shopping is a team sport. You need at least three people, but four is the ideal number. Make a copy of everyone’s list (or share it electronically). That way, you know what everyone on your team is looking for.
5. Make a Map.
Map your route store by store. Start with the most important and the most sought-after items. Don’t forget to pack along a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate and the first round of Christmas cookies to help you get through the night.
6. Divide and Conquer.
This is the most important part. This is where your teamwork comes into play and everyone has a position.
The Driver: Stays in the car. Parking can be the hardest part of the night. So the driver’s sole responsibility is to either park the car or be on call when everyone else comes out.
The Placeholder: Once inside the store, the placeholder goes directly to the line and waits.
The Runner(s): Armed with everyone’s list, the runner does the actual shopping. As she shops, she swings by and drops her loot into the Placeholder’s cart. The goal is to be completely done shopping by the time the Placeholder gets to the checkout.
If you don’t have enough people, you can take turns shopping and waiting in line.
Then on to the next store. Repeat.
7. Shop Online.
While the rest of the family is out conquering Christmas, I’ll be home. Tucked in under warm covers, with a cup of hot chocolate — shopping online. The thrill of the hunt doesn’t excite me near as much as having it show up on my doorstep.