How to Survive the Black Friday Apocalypse 101

The entire turkey has been eaten, you’ve made just enough room for one more piece of pumpkin pie, and everyone is slowly slipping away into a food coma. Seems like the day is slowly starting to wind down, right? Wrong! It’s almost Black Friday and you’ve got a gift list that needs to be filled!

Before you head out to the battlefield of ribbons, tags, packages, boxes and bags, you’ve got to make a plan of attack so you can come back home having saved and survived. Here are a few tips to make the “darkest” shopping day of the year a successful survival story of sales.

Leave the Cart Behind and Take a Bag Instead

Your first thought may be to grab a cart so you can transport all of the goods you’ve gathered, but shopping carts can be a little clunky to maneuver and can really throw you off your groove. You might as well be driving a tank up and down the aisles!

Needless to say, while you’re wading through the rush of Black Friday shoppers, that shopping cart is going to be no better than a ball and chain — it’s going to hold you back from scooping up all those great deals! Plus, just think of the traffic jam that all those carts are going to make in the store.

Instead, carry your items around in something a little more manageable — like a basket or one of these bags from IKEA. They’ll only cost you a dollar, and you’ll be able to sling it over your shoulder and power through the chaos.

Map Out a Plan of Attack Ahead of Time

Having a plan of attack will make your shopping trip effective and efficient, two things that are necessary to running your holiday errands successfully. Print off the mall directory or make a quick sketch off all the sections at the department stores and draw out your shopping route.

That way, you can speed-walk through the store with a clear goal in mind and an idea of exactly where you’ll be headed next.

Also, as an added tip, visit before you head out. This is the ultimate guide to sales, store hours and return policies.

Fuel Up

Shopping on Black Friday is kind of like swimming upstream — if you were swimming in a stream that consisted of people, shopping carts and awkward-sized packages and your shoes were made of cement.

That being said, you’re going to need every ounce of energy you can muster, so before you head out the door, get some caffeine running through your veins and eat something with some carbs and protein. Having some food in your stomach will make it so you don’t have to make any food stops during the day, which would be a waste of precious shopping time! It also wouldn’t hurt to have a few granola bars or some fruit on hand for when you need a bit of a pick-me-up along the way.

Dress Like You’re Going for a Jog

Depending on where you call home, the weather outside may be frightful, so your typical Black Friday uniform will more than likely consist of boots, a coat, gloves and a winter hat. Let this be a warning to you if you decide to go that route: once you step into the store alongside crowds of other eager shoppers, you’ll work up quite a sweat, and all that extra heat that’s built up is going to waste a lot of your energy.

Leave the winter gear in the closet and opt for something a little more … mobile. Instead, lace up your running shoes, strap on a fanny pack and dress lightly because Black Friday is a shopping marathon and each store is a purchasing sprint. You’ll be more nimble, more quick, and you’ll be one step ahead of everyone else in the store, which could be the difference between a screaming-good deal and a trip to another store.

Plus, who knows when you’ll need to jump over a candlestick!

Divide and Conquer

No one can be everywhere at once, but if you plan ahead, you can enlist the help of a few of your friends and take Black Friday on together.

For example, if you and three friends have four stores you need to visit, each of you can take a store and gather up the gifts on everyone’s list. That way, while you’re at the electronics store buying all the video game requests from your kids and picking up electronics items on your friends’ lists, your friends will be at other stores buying the things that you need.

If the hassle of paying your friends back doesn’t sound like something you want to deal with, you could still go with your friends to the store, but you could each tackle your own section. One friend could pick up everyone’s music gifts, and another friend could pick up that TV you really wanted. In one fell swoop, your group of friends can turn itself into the Dream Team of shopping.

Navigate the Parking Lot Safely

The main reason you’re sacrificing sleep and sanity to shop on Black Friday is the savings — it’s all the money you’ll be saving from these crazy sales. But if you get yourself into a fender bender because you were driving a little too quickly and a little too carelessly, all the money you saved (and probably a little more) will go towards repair bills.

Review the Return Policies of Every Store You Visit

A lot of people will buy everything on their gift list with the intention of making returns at a later date. You know — buy before you try. This is a great strategy because once you’ve gotten everything in front of you in the living room, you can make your final decisions on what you actually want to keep in the comforts (and safety!) of your own home.

However, many stores change their return policies for products bought during the Black Friday sales, and if you’re the type who does the “buying and then trying,” you wouldn’t want to get stuck with a product that you can’t return. Take a look at the return policies for Black Friday sales and make sure that you’re aware of all the potential policy changes so that buy-before-you-try doesn’t turn into a cry-after-you’re-stuck-with-what-you-buy.

Refuel and Relax

You’ve been up since the break of dawn (maybe even longer!), and your feet have been at a nonstop pace all day, so your next stop should be a place where you can set the bags down, put the shopping list aside and breathe in the savory smells of scratch-made food — a place like Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen!

We’ve got everything you could ever need after a long day at the mall — especially since Cyber Monday is coming up! And guess what, our dishes are at Black Friday value all year long, so whether you come in after your shopping trip or if you’re just looking for some goodness, you’ll always get the best bang for your buck at Cheddar’s.

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