I’ve done Black Friday once. Once. In my thirty years. I was 22, there was an artificial Christmas tree I’d seen in a circular, and so my mom and I threw on coats over our PJs, stood outside of Kohl’s at 5:45 a.m., bolted straight to the back of the store, and picked up only those impulse items that were on a straight line from the artificial Christmas tree section directly back to the checkout counter. Then we went home, removed our coats, and went back to bed.
I think one reason I hate Black Friday so desperately is that when I worked for the fashion publication that, as always, shall remain nameless, I had the pleasant job of heading to the mall every weekend during the holiday season for the weekly retail roundup. I got to drag a poor photographer who’d rather be hanging Christmas decorations with his young children around this massive Shopping Center of Earthly Delights, tackling shoppers who also would rather be hanging holiday decorations with their families and asking them what they’re buying and how shopping this year compares to shopping last year. Hell, I would rather have been home with my fish hanging Christmas decorations, or Hannukah decorations, or any other damned kind of decorations than stumble for hours around that Bosch painting of a mall to collect my quotes and then go home and get my story filed in time for my editor to maybe remember to include it in that week’s roundup.
So I make a concerted effort to stay in on Black Friday, contribution to our nation’s flagging economy be damned.
For anyone else planning lock the doors, close the shutters, and stay in their homes, bunker-style, from doorbuster to midnight madness, here are a few suggestions from my own playbook.
1. Settle in to make some handmade gifts. If you’re on a budget, this is a great approach to gift-giving because nobody, but nobody, can complain about a gift that you’ve put blood into. Not to your face, anyway. I’m a knitter, so I tend to go with scarves and gloves and whatnot, but a macaroni picture frame will be enough to get a quasi-convincing “Oh, how thoughtful” from your intended recipient. And in a natural disaster, they can pick the macaroni off the frame and make a meal of it. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, so quit your complaining, Grams.
2. Scour Etsy for someone else’s handmade gifts. If you’re going to conspicuously consume, it’s better to do so with some home-based artisan than some big-box store, right? If you’re a good person, you’ll tell your intended recipient that you didn’t hand-make it yourself. But far be it from me to insist you be a good person.
3. Update your parents’ browser. If you can get their blessing, that’s swell. If not, try to get them out of the house so you can do it all secretive-like. Tell them you need an artificial Christmas tree.
4. Sleep in. Be the brightest and bushiest-tailed of all your friends.
5. Call your friends throughout the day and talk about the cool things you’re doing. If you aren’t doing anything cool, just lie. “Hey, we’re sitting here drinking mimosas and getting free hot-stone massages from the cast of Ocean’s Eleven, and I knew you’d want to–Oh, no, you’re at Dillard’s, aren’t you. Whoops. Sorries.”
6. Go somewhere that isn’t packed with shoppers. If you feel like going out, Black Friday is a great time to hit up zoos and museums and other places that might otherwise be traffic-heavy. Be sure to see the pandas. Not because of anything to do with Black Friday–just because pandas are cute. Silly, fat little pandas.
(Was that animal abuse?)
7. Make a list of all the winter holidays between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and figure out what you’re supposed to eat in observance of each celebration. (Watch out for December 21st–between all the solstice observations, Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapati, Los Pasadas, and the Poinsettia Bowl, you’re going to need some elastic-waist pants.)
8. Call your friends who are out shopping and ask them to pick you up some elastic-waist pants.