As a wise woman once said, "If you want to really get the best deals, you have to shop like a Black Friday Ninja." Or rather, that's what a wise editor for Clark.com once said—a scarily adroit statement we came across earlier this week during a slightly frantic internet search for anything that could streamline post–Turkey Day shopping, sales, and, even more likely, suffering. (Hey, I worked retail long enough in college to know a traumatized, under-caffeinated face at 3 a.m. when I see one.) Black Friday is no joke, it's not for the faint of heart, and it requires strategy and skill.
Luckily for you, we're going to help you with both the former and the latter this year.
To ensure your Black Friday haul is as successful and satisfying as it ought to be, we decided to do some digging around the World Wide Web to learn what tips, tricks, and Houdini-like magic should be pulled this year to score everything on your shopping list with ease, record-low cortisol levels, and hopefully some fun to boot. After all, it's shopping! And shopping should be fun. Just ask Regina George to pull you into her convertible if you're not convinced. Ahead, the 10 best Black Friday shopping tricks you definitely want to have up your sleeve and ready to play post–Thanksgiving feast.
Oh, and throughout, we're also including the Instagram accounts of some of our favorite beauty retailers. Make sure you hit follow so you can keep tabs on their epic Black Friday deals!
1. Shop With a Discounted Gift Gard
We feel a little bit spooked that we didn't even know such a thing existed until we came across this handy article on Clark.com, but yes, apparently a discounted gift card is very much alive and well in the world of Black Friday deal scrounging. All you have to do is head to Raise.com to find discounted gift cards for (literally) hundreds of retailers—from Macy's to Target.
2. Go Ahead and Give Them Your Email
We know. We know. Giving your favorite retailers you remail runs you the risk of receiving a daily (or thrice-daily) onslaught of annoying messages. But if you're going to do it, this is the best time of year to commit to receiving, and yes, actually opening those messages. Why? You'll uncover the best holiday steals. Try delegating a separate email account to all of your Black Friday shopping efforts to avoid too much junk and distraction at work. Oh, and go to your favorite sites to sign up for emails and newsletters at least two to three weeks in advance, as they can take time to generate and you don't want to miss any deals which can float in at unexpected times!
3. Prioritize Your List
We hope for the contrary, but more than likely you won't be able to nab every single thing on your shopping list this year. So to lend some method to the madness, go through everything on your wish list and prioritize. Put things at the top that you either really want or know you'll be able to get a deal on and go from there. And don't forget: There's always Cyber Monday!
4. Don't Go Solo
If you plan on doing shopping for your friends and loved ones, it can be tempting to go rogue on Black Friday and do your shopping solo. Our tip? Don't. Not only will it be more enjoyable (and probably less stressful) to have someone to go into battle with, but you can also divvy up your lists and assign each other to certain stores. For instance, you can tackle Ulta while they hit up Sephora, so nothing is lost. (See, this is also where the beauty of Venmo comes in super handy.)
5. Use a Searchable Database
Um, so here's another Black Friday shopping tip we wish we had known about years ago: a free 2018 Black Friday database. It will let you know when your favorite stores are opening and also lets you look up specific items to help you determine where you can find it at the lowest price. Additionally, Consumer Reports recommends checking bfads.net, bestblackfriday.com, dealnews.com, theblackfriday.com, and blackfriday.gottadeal.com.
6. Wednesday Might Be More Important
Tricky as it seems, it's a good idea to check your favorite retailers on Wednesday. Yep, before Thanksgiving. According to Clark.com, sometimes the deals on Black Friday are not always the lowest price. (Again, from someone who worked retail for many years, this is 100% fact!) We suggest visiting the store on Wednesday to find out. You just might find the item you're looking for at the same price as or lower than you would on Friday—sans the chaos.
7. Shop Really Early—or Really Late
Black Friday is known for rallying shoppers in the wee hours of the morning in search of the best early bird shopping deals and doorbusters. Yes, you'll find great deals at the crack of dawn (or earlier). That said, retailers want to keep their traffic alive well into Friday night and will sometimes offer late-shopper deals in addition to their early bird offers.
8. Pay in Cash
Leave your credit cards at home. This will force you to determine your budget ahead of time and ensures you don't go over it—and ultimately suffer from buyer's remorse later on. It's easy to get lost in the heat of the moment, especially when you're surrounded by hundreds of swiping fiends, so trust us when we say this is one of the best (and most stress-reducing) tips we've tried over the years.
9. Get Gift Receipts
Retailers can be sneaky, especially when it comes to their Black Friday return policies. While many of our favorite stores won't try to get you here, some might only offer a 30-day (or otherwise specified) return policy for items purchased Black Friday or during the holiday stretch. So if you don't plan on gifting your loved ones until December, they might not be able to return the items. The solve? Collect gift receipts should your giftee need to return or exchange.
10. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
We probably don't have to tell you to be on your phone, but following your top-priority retailers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is a smart way to stay up to date on their deals and promotions. Plus, they'll often reward you for likes and follows with tempting discounts and other buying incentives. So in other words, ready your tapping digits.