Image courtesy of: Madison Beckman

By: Madison Beckman

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is Black Friday shopping. Nothing will beat the post-Thanksgiving rush of waking up early or staying up late and shopping for some of the best bargains of the year.

When done right, you can start and finish all of your holiday shopping in one night. Then you get to sit back and enjoy the Christmas movie marathon on the Hallmark Channel while everyone else is rushing around the week before Christmas to buy what is needed at limited discounted prices.

Preparation is key to Black Friday success, so plan in advance. Unless you have a specific plan before you leave your house, you will get swept up in the excitement and chaos. While you may purchase an awesome TV for that bonus room you do not have, you will still find yourself having not bought gifts for any of your loved ones.

First, you want to make a list of everyone in your life you wish to buy a gift. Then scan through all the Black Friday sales and decide what exactly you want to get each individual person. Finally, choose the stores you will commute to and create an order in which you frequent them based on the stores whose sales start the earliest, as to avoid the dreaded quick sell-out.

Stores can become pretty hectic on Black Friday, so it is important to be dressed appropriately. Your outfit should be one you are comfortable in and can easily maneuver with during an active shopping experience. Do not wear anything that may get grabbed in a mad dash. Keep your valuables, such as your phone and wallet, on your person at all times. Avoid carrying excess items like a bag or heavy coat.

Dress with the temperature in mind as well. It may be cold outside, but it will be hot inside the stores. Unless you anticipate waiting outside for long periods of time, it may be wise to just skip the pondered extra layer altogether.

Travel in a group, and split up to cover more ground than you could alone. If lines are long, have someone else wait online beforehand to maximize your time.

Lastly, make sure you keep track of how much you spend by saving all your receipts. Plan out your payment methods in advance so you can avoid not having enough funds or getting declined. Also, do not forget to use those gift receipts.

Good luck to my fellow Black Friday shoppers, and Merry almost-Christmas!