Black Friday for Beginners: How to Survive the Busiest Shopping Day of the Year!

What is Black Friday?

Perhaps the most popular shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving (Friday) is named “Black Friday” because this is the day that most retailers go from being not profitable (red on earnings statements) to profitable (in the “black” on earnings statements.) Deal finders love these sales, and I have been going for a few years now. Generally speaking, I love Black Friday, but with the birth of my new son, it doesn’t seem practical to get up at 4:00 in the morning to find these great deals!

Here is the strategy I have used to be successful in getting every item on my wish list:

1. Get the ads – Either online or the day that they come out in the paper, grab all the ads from the papers and sit down with a pen and paper. Remember that rural areas don’t often get all the ads from the retailers, so if you are missing one from a store you want to shop, you can probably go online and get one from them at their website directly.

2. Ad by ad, circle the items that you want the most. Remember that many stores will be offering the exact same items on sale, so price compare. I use 3×5 cards to make a list for each store on each card with the items I want for that store. Group them by department if you wish for easier navigation in the store.

3. Make note of the times that the stores open on each note card. The strategy will be to go to the stores that open earliest first, and so on so that you can grab those best deals as they become available.

4. The day before the sale – Lay out your clothes, wallet, notecards, and a quick breakfast bar or other item to snack on before you go or on the drive. Remember that it may be very cold at 4a.m. where you live, so dress warmly. Avoid bulky coats if you can (dress in layers), as you will not have room in your cart to stash your coat, and it will get very, very hot waiting in those lines.

5. The day of the sale – Hit the road with your best co-shopper. This works best with a friend.

6. Hit the earliest store first. Try to get there at least 10 minutes before the store opens. You will possibly have to wait in line, but get in there. When you door opens, never push or shove other shoppers. In fact, if it is overwhelming for you, hang back a bit and let the most aggressive shoppers through first. I usually wait casually until the rush gets in, and if there is already a cart or two in the parking lot, grab them! There will be a mad dash for carts that will cause the biggest confusion. (Sometimes they run out of carts.)

7. Head for each item on your list. Most of the really good early sales (those listed for opening until about 11 a.m. only) will probably be out in the aisles for easy access. If you find an item on your list that is hard to get to (due to crowds or narrow aisles) have one of you wait by the carts and the other grab the item. This teamwork approach works great for “divide and conquering.”

8. When you are about done, try to combine all items into one cart and head for the check out line. One of you wait in line while the other roams the store for any missed deals. Check out and head for the next store on the list!

9. Don’t forget to get some breakfast, coffee and bathroom breaks as needed. Don’t let the experience stress you out! After all, you are getting some great deals.

10. And last but not least, DON’T FORGET GIFT RECEIPTS! These are very important to have if you are claiming any rebates.

If you get home and want to venture online, many stores will be having some or all of their sale items online, too! You may find that this approach works best for items where you only have one thing to get at a retailer and it is not offered exclusively during that “early bird” morning window.

Once you go shopping with a plan in mind, this shopping holiday can become a favorite shopping tradition. Happy deals to everyone!

Holiday Party Planning Tips

The holidays are a time of feasting, generally, in the company of family, friends and loved ones. How many times have you heard someone say they “love the holidays”, simply for all the parties that exist? Holiday party planning is not only important to many, but one of the busiest and most exciting planning events, as well.

Of course, the holidays that fall in wintertime are not the only times for planning a holiday party. There is Fourth of July in the United States, and comparable holidays in other countries. In any case, sometimes a holiday party is thrown just because the planner loves holiday party planning so much. It can be quite fun for the person who has a love for parties and for planning them.

There is, of course, not a lot of difference in planning for a holiday parties and the planning of other types of parties. Just the reason has changed. The needs of the planner to plan the perfect event is still intact. Holidays party planning involves calculating a guest list, menu and decor, just like any other party.

However, more people do holidays party a lot more than any other party types, or, at least, it seems that way. When too many people are trying to organize holiday parties at the same time, catering and party supply rental companies find themselves overwhelmed. So the wise planner starts party planning for holiday months in advance.

And, of course, the big holiday parties, Christmas party, is the most hectic one. Along with the party itself, one has to work in the present shopping, holiday decorating and all the other various and sundry activities that happen at that time of year. Often times, the smart host/ess will opt to hire a party planner to do the holidays party planning for them, and avoid one bit of holiday stress.

Still, there are those die-hard holiday party planning fanatics who want to do it all themselves. Be especially kind to these people at those times of the year, for they are giving their all to make your holidays memorable. Planning a holiday parties is not easy, especially when there are many other things to do at that time, as well.

Holiday party planning has only one easy part-the choice of theme. Obviously, one is not going to throw a costume party for Christmas or Hanukkah, although it could be done for New Year’s. In any case, the theme is generally already clearly defined for most holiday party planning. The tough part is doing something different from year to year. That’s where rabid holiday party planners love to shine, by trying to top themselves each year. Or sometimes, the holiday party planning competition is not with themselves, but with a rival. Is it any wonder the holidays are particularly stressful for some people?

Very often, people use the excuse of holiday parties to let off some mid-winter stream, and the organizer of holiday party planning knows this. It’s a time of festivities and fantasy that people love to dive into for a little escape and lots of fun. This is often the reason why a planner feels the need to top themselves each year. When the party-goers go home, the planner wants to know that they are looking back and saying, “That was the party of the year!” Great holiday party planning depends on the planner’s success in that area.

The Dubai Shopping Festival

Every winter, Dubai takes shopping to the next level with the Dubai Shopping Festival. From mid January to mid February, millions of shopaholics, bargain hunters and holidaymakers descend on the elaborate emirate as it buzzes with a colossal array of discounts, competitions, prizes, fireworks, entertainment and more. If you are after the ultimate break, then Dubai during the festival is the destination for you.

The Dubai Shopping Festival was launched in 1996 as a government-led initiative to revitalize the retail trade, but it has now become one of the world’s most famous shopping festivals. Every year, the month-long festival gets bigger and more spectacular than the last, attracting shoppers and holidaymakers from all over the globe. A mega 3.35 million visitors came to Dubai for the most recent event, lured by the massive discounts on already tax-free shopping as well as the competitions, entertainment and festivities.

The festival kicks off with an extravagant opening ceremony, with fireworks and light shows taking place over Dubai Creek and continuing to light Dubai’s skies throughout the festival.

Bargain hunters will be in heaven at the Dubai Shopping Festival with massive discounts on any product you can think of including gold, Dubai’s signature product, major designer fashion labels, electronics, cars and more. There are also hundreds of competitions run throughout the festival, with prizes running into the millions. The 2012 festival includes a Mega Raffle whereby every day of the festival one lucky shopper wins a luxury Infinite QX56 SUV costing AED 350,000 plus AED 100,000.

As well as the incredible discounts and retail competitions that are run during the Dubai Shopping Festival, the entertainment throughout the city is another major draw-card for tourists. Music concerts, street performers, fashion shows, film festivals, cultural events and more fill the city centre streets and malls. Family entertainment is big business during the Dubai Shopping Festival with a host of attractions popping up in Dubai’s parks including a mini fun fair, World of Ice, Flower Garden, helicopter tours, space ship, Spiderman zone, remote control boats and much more.

On top of the excitements of the shopping festival, the city of Dubai itself offers plenty of fascinating sights and interesting things to do outside the realm of the Dubai Shopping Festival. Visitors can head to the Bastakia Quarter for a taste of traditional Dubai, marvel at the Burj Al Arab, the world’s tallest hotel, play a round of golf at Dubai’s world-class courses or go on a desert safari just outside the city limits to mention just a few.

With regular flights to Dubai from most UK international airports plus plenty of great city centre accommodation options, a shopping break in Dubai during the Dubai Shopping Festival is a fantastic, doable shopping break.

Whatever you choose to do, a city break in Dubai is an experience unlike any other and if you are after a shopping holiday, then Dubai during the Dubai Shopping Festival is the ultimate destination.