Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, has been known as the busiest shopping day of the year. It started in the 1960s, but it’s getting so broadly adopted these days that few retailers can ignore it. If they don’t put out great Black Friday sales, they may not make their numbers for the season. The beneficiaries, of course, are the consumers. However, just getting up early (some even open as early as midnight!) to go shopping is not sufficient. After all, it’s not an extremely pleasant shopping experience. Crowds could be aggressive, and cases and assaults are not uncommon. Everyone is trying to get the best deals before supplies run out. So for you, it might mean that you need to shop more strategically–getting the best Black Friday deals and investing as little time as possible. Moreover, if you go without a game plan, you might not get what you want and you might spend more than you intended.

1. Create a gift list

Do you know who you need to buy for? What are you planning to get for each person? What is your budget for each person or each group of people?

Getting the Best Out of Black Friday Deals

To create a budget, I suggest you go with a top-down approach.

  1. Decide how much you want to spend in gifts for this holiday season.
  2. Create groups of people that you need to buy gifts for. For example, close family, extended family, friends, coworkers, kids’ teachers and neighbors, etc. Create as many group as your particular situation requires. Don’t forget to include yourself in a group, or create a group with you only in it. We don’t want to forgot to show some love to ourselves, do we?
  3. Assign a budget for each group of recipients.
  4. Assign a budget for each person within each group.
  5. Create gift ideas for each person. This may take a bit more thought; think about the person’s wants and needs. With the ideas in mind, you might need to re-arrange your budget a little.

2. Research

With your gift list with budget, you should be able to go online and see where you could get the items. You can go to your favorite retailers’ websites, or just do some Google searches; you may be surprised to find new retailers that offer great selections and price with liberal return policies. At the end of this stage, you should have a good idea where you want to go on Black Friday.

3. Organize

You may need to hit multiple stores on Black Friday based on the plan you put together. Decide which one is the most important, the one where you can complete most of your holiday shopping, or the one that opens the earliest. Ensure that all the items are recorded so you don’t miss anything. Better yet, use one of the holiday shopping apps, like the Christmas List app I featured before. That way you are saving paper and your sanity.

However, even though people traditionally go out to buy gifts in person, there are so many retailers offering great Black Friday deals online with free shipping . You should take advantage of that as much as possible. Imagine no more crowds, and jumping from store to store in a matter of seconds. That’s the way you will get the most out of Black Friday. And the bonus is that a lot of online retailers are already offering great deals before the actual Black Friday. So you really don’t have to wait any longer and can have a peaceful experience.