Ahh, Black Friday. The ceremonial “spend-money-but-save-money-spending-money” event of the year. I can smell it in the air. Fortunately, due to the lockdown rules of COVID-19 constricting again, the seasonal stampede, mad-dash, fifty-yard wait lines and Lucha libre-like wrestling over the year’s greatest deals will be cancelled. Instead, what once was “Cyber Monday” will undoubtedly morph into a “Cyber 5-Day Weekend”. We must be prepared. Here are three of the best ways that you, as a student, can tell your children that you survived, gave the best gifts, and became a champion of Black Friday 2020.
First tip: navigating the Cyber Weekend Deals. Black Friday is good for one thing and that is helping you save money on Holiday gifts that have been haunting your reoccurring dreams… or nightmares (think The Nightmare Before Christmas toys chasing kids down hallways but replace the kids with you and the toys with the iPhone 12 and a Dyson Hot & Cool Bladeless Fan… OooOOo!).
Before the Cyber Weekend begins, compare websites, brands and deals ahead of time so that you have an action plan during the big day. Know what you want and know where you will get it from. This dedication to planning will help you create a budget (and not overspend when tempted by the “Hottest Pair of Socks of the Season”) and help you be aware and prepared to snag the best deals before they are gone since you scouted it out beforehand. Stress and anxiety are already at critical levels as a college student, so creating an action plan will help you stay grounded, not letting the day of deals consume you. Planning is the key to academic success and Black Friday success! (Looks like mother was right after all… *sign*).
An important tip to try during your Black Friday shopping is to come prepared with a list designated for yourself and a list designated for others, like your friends and family. Narrowing down the specifics on what you want and what you are willing to spend on family and friends will help you maintain balance and control over the Creature from the Black (Friday) Lagoon that desires nothing more than to gobble the whole of your finances. In the Spirit of Giving, try shopping for your Holiday gifts for others first and then moving on to what you want. Unless what you want is extremely time-sensitive, knocking out gifts you’ll give to others can help negate the impending stress of “oh no! Did I remember to get them a gift?”, which tends to occur just days before Christmas. Making a list and checking it twice will help you be the master of your Black Friday experience.
One of the best ways to survive this year’s Black Friday is to not participate at all! Instead, DIY, or Do It Yourself, gifts are a great alternative if money is tight (as we can all relate) or you don’t want to get involved with the extra stress of Black Friday sale hunting (let’s face it, this year has been stressful enough already).
Everybody has talents. Using them to create memorable gifts and experiences for your loved ones can be the best Holiday present of all. When I was in Elementary School, on the last day of school my third-grade girlfriend made me a terracotta turquoise heart (which, during the summer, I broke into a million pieces just like she broke my little adolescent third-grade heart *single tear*). Every year for Mother’s Day, my three brothers and I would craft home-made cards from printer paper, decorative scissors, and markers. She either always really loved them or always put on a good face because of our expression of time and love put into the “I Love You” cards every year were all she ever wanted. Both of these personal anecdotes are examples of how gifts don’t need to be expensive; as long as you use your talents to create them, they can give love and care to the receiver. Gifts don’t always have to be physical objects either; as a Christmas gift to her parents every year, my wife practices the violin (which her parents forced her to learn against her will growing up) and performs a song to show her love and appreciation for helping her see the talents in herself. Sharing your talents can create priceless memories for you and your friends and family.
Hands down the best present: food. If you are looking to avoid the Black Friday mayhem, you can never go wrong with gifting food. If you are holding yourself back because you’ve never tried cooking, attempting to create a sweet dessert or a savory snack is half of the fun, especially when you’re with people you love. Whether you are giving a decadent dozen cupcakes, a gourmet series of fluffy waffles, or even if you are asking for the gift of a food delivery subscription (because college can be tough on the diet), food equals happiness. Take home the cake by gifting a cake to survive the Black Friday fiasco.
The last Black Friday 2020 survival tip (which, again involves dodging the traditional Black Friday “shop ‘til you drop” ordeal) is the grand gift of time.
If this crazy, COVID-filled year has taught us anything, it is that real, in-person time is near impossible to replicate. Of course, making time to Zoom with your family or your friends is a great present to give, but safely gathering in small family or friend groups this year can ultimately be the greatest gift. If at all possible, try spending social distanced physical time with your family or friends. After all, time is the only non-refundable currency.
Giving “the gift of time” can also be the perfect Black Friday excuse this year as you can cautiously explain to your loved ones that in purchasing, wrapping, and delivering gifts, you could be delivering a sad box of contagious viruses. That thoughtful approach would surely award you some “Best Son/Daughter of the Year” points, while you reward yourself with “Best Escape-Artist of the Year” for saving potential blood, sweat, and tears spent on Black Friday 2020. As we all get older and can more clearly reflect on our parents’ perspectives, the gift of time becomes increasingly more important. We have all learned to value time as our youth becomes more and more ephemeral. What better way to show love than to show up this holiday season; spread joy with the gift of time.
Well, there you have it, the three best ideas to survive and thrive through Black Friday 2020. Whether you participate fully in Black Friday weekend, steer clear of any Black Friday shopping or do a little bit of both, make sure to remember the purpose behind whatever you do. 2020 has been a bleak year for everyone, so consider those around you and practice ways to show love this holiday season. Don’t let Black Friday rob your holiday joy (or your bank account); remember the reason for the season: spread joy, peace, and love.