Black Friday shopping doesn't have be the all-hectic, all-stressful experience it's come to be known as over the years, not if you come prepared at least. Turn long lines into bonding experiences, showcase gadgets you've accumulated over the years, and get the most out of your Black Friday shopping - all with these 20 essentials we've rounded up from personal experience.
1) iPad/Portable DVD Player: Although the iPad's battery life may not be the best, there's nothing like attaching a pair of headphones to keep your ears warm while getting entertained by downloaded episodes of 30 Rock.
2) DS Lite/PSP: Portable gaming was made for events like these. Hours of fun - just make sure you keep those fingers warm.
3) Extra batteries: Just in case you run out of juice for your video or gaming entertainment.
4) Sketchpad/MoleSkine: Drawing out your current technological setup can help inform you of what you do and don't need to buy.
5) Smartphone: Just in case you need Internet to do some last minute comparison on deals nearby/map out your Black Friday game plan.
6) Shoes: We've made the mistake of bringing the wrong tools to an event before. It wasn't fun. Bring a comfortable pair of shoes. Ones that can sustain cold sweat, extensive standing, and running.
7) Tents: Pitching a tent may be overkill, but it'll save you from windchills and provide an area for safe napping (so long as your stuff is tied to your belt on a leash).
8) Chairs: Chairs are great if you know you'll be in line for long durations at a time in the cold. If anything, it'll keep your bottom from falling asleep while you wait for the doors to open and save your spot in line if you need to go to the restroom.
9) Blankets/Jackets: Consider bringing a blanket only if you're going for stores that open at 6AM in the morning and need to survive the night in the blistering cold. Otherwise, a warm goose-feather jacket should suffice, although it really depends on where you are.
10) Delivery pizza: Be the envy of everyone in line (or charge per slice) with a warm box of delivered pizza.
11) Bars: These are probably the one thing we wouldn't leave home without. Toss a box of health/breakfast/energy bars into your bag or you won't have enough energy to make your way through the crowds.
12) Chips/Cookies: Again, sticking with the non-perishable theme, any snacks that don't require refrigeration is a go.
13) Drinks: Keep yourself hydrated with water and Gatorade (especially if you plan on dashing around a lot). Canteens and stainless steel water bottles are perfect for these events. Alcohol may sound like a good idea at first, but keep in mind that it's a diuretic and that (in combination with the cold) will require constant restroom time. Not good if you plan on keeping your spot in line.
14) A Backpack: We recommend a backpack with plenty of room for all of your goods listed above. There are some bags out there that have incorporated chairs in them, so that's an option if you want to be able to sit while having all of your stuff with you at all times.
15) A Gameplan: Seconds are vital on Black Friday sales. Have a very, very good idea of what stores you plan to attack and don't assume they'll have it in stock when you do get there. Have a gameplan accounting for how long you might be in line and what other stores you can get to if the item isn't in.
16) Transportation: You get there. You stumble upon an unbelievable 60" LED TV for $600. Make sure you have a truck just in case it needs to get from the store to your house.
17) Printed Ads: This may sound silly, but with all the running around, you might forget what you're actually at the store looking for. Some stores also price match deals, so it's good to have those ads handy - just in case.
18) A Shopping Buddy: We've done Black Friday for a few years now and it's always better to have a friend that comes along, if not just to defend your belongings, but it does make the experience much, much better. You can think of the experience of waiting in line for that $40 stainless steel microwave a bonding experience - kinda like climbing Mt. Everest together or something.
19) Cash: With thousands of transactions occurring the morning of BF, credit card orders ofte n take several minutes to get through. If this happens while you're waiting in line and can pay with cash, a store employee might let you cut in line to make a quick cash purchase. This can cut down your waiting time so you can run to the next store on your list.
20) Etiquette: If you thought road rage was bad, wait until you meet someone who hasn't gotten any sleep and didn't get what they waited in line for on BF. Try not to be "that guy." Running is okay, but pushing definitely isn't. Be mentally prepared for a hectic day, but don't take it out on anyone when things start to burn you out. Grab only what you need and leave the rest. Who knows, maybe someone will notice how calm and collected you are and will give you a head's up on a deal you hadn't even heard about.
Now that you've got everything in order, good luck! Let us know how your BF experience goes and if you have even more tips to share with our readers, do share!