Listen, I know this Friday is Black Friday. And I know a lot of people will go shopping and believe they’re saving money. And I don’t deny there are legit deals to be had the day after Thanksgiving. But here’s the thing: is it worth it to jump into the consumer melee in order to save a few bucks? I posit nope.
My Opinions on Black Friday (spoiler: they are not good)
Brought to you in the form of a listicle, which is a list icicle, which means I have iced the consumer desire:
- First of all, the very best way to save money is to not go shopping. Yep. All the sales in the world won’t save you as much money as… just not shopping.
Second of all, do you really need the stuff for sale on Black Friday? Have you needed it for longer than 72 hours? Have you needed it for longer than a year or two? If yes, then you might be in for mega savings. But if no, you might be in for massive early December buyer’s remorse.
- Third of all, shopping sales for stuff you didn’t need before you saw it on sale is not the road to financial wellness. It’s the road to ersatz frugality. Just because something’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it and it also doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.
- Fourth of all, Black Friday is the most stressful day of the year to be in a store. It’s crowded, hot, jostling, and no one is having very much fun. Why do that to yourself?! It’s the antithesis of Thanksgiving–a day to express gratitude and contentment with what we already have.
Worst of All: Black Friday Promotes Consumerism Above All Other Values
Black Friday encourages people to wake up at an unseemly hour, jet off to spend money, and focus solely on getting more and more stuff. When parents do this, it demonstrates to their children that shopping is more important than spending a day together at home basking in post-Thanksgiving merriment. It teaches children that buying stuff–and having stuff and wanting more stuff–is how we define ourselves. It positions consumerism as a value to be worshipped and as something that matters deeply to your family.
As a culture, we have a tendency to define ourselves through consumption. We signal our self-worth, our stature, and our success through the cars we drive, the phones we use, the shoes we wear.
We use material goods as a proxy for community. In the absence of more meaningful unifiers, it’s easy to fall back on our possessions and appearances to define us and project our position in society. I’m not exempt from this. I like nice things. I have an iPhone. I’m guilty of dressing with class and status in mind.
But I challenge us–you and me–to fight this urge. I challenge us to push back against the deluge of advertisements goading us into stores this Friday. I challenge us to not only reject consumerism as a family value, but to create new traditions and new definitions of Black Friday. Our kids calibrate their values based on our actions. Kids begin to define who they are, and what matters to them, by watching what their parents do.
18 Things To Do Instead Of Shopping On Black Friday
You will probably have better ideas than me, but I’m the only idea-machine at my disposal right now, so you’re stuck with me. Until the comments section. Please share good ideas in the comments section. Mediocre ideas welcome too.
Treat Friday like an extension of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Part II, if you will. Eat leftovers, discuss turkeys, reflect on gratitude.
- Re-enact the Thanksgiving Day Parade with cardboard-box floats decorated with, uh, whatever you have lying around. Have the kids/dogs dress up in their Halloween costumes for additional parade festivity.
- Decorate for Christmas/Hanukkah. Bust out the tree, light the lights, and merrily relish the slide into the next most wonderful holiday season.
- Go hiking. Or walking. Or strolling. Or to the park. Get outside and move around.
- Play board games. I solemnly swear that I will TRY to actually play the Angelina Ballerina board game with Kidwoods.
- Play card games. My family and I are Canasta fiends.
- Put a puzzle together. Or if you have little kids, fling puzzle pieces around your living room–that’s about how it’ll end up anyway.
- Get your craft on. Consider making homemade holiday gifts–edible or otherwise–instead of going the store-bought route. Readers offered tons of ideas here.
Let your toddler paint her fingernails. What could go wrong? This will obviously work and your toddler will definitely not goop mountains of polish on each nail and then wipe the wet polish onto her shirt and then demand to have it taken off, followed by wailing demands to “paint it back on again!!!!” I mean, I can’t imagine that happening to anyone…
- Have an indoor snowball fight. Wad up pieces of paper–or use (clean) socks–and chuck them at each other. For kids, the fun is obvious. For adults, amp things up by throwing socks at a ceiling fan while it’s turned on and incorporate a drinking game (caramel vodka works best) based on where the sock lands. I cannot imagine anyone being juvenile enough to do this and I certainly have never done it myself.
- Read books! To
sober upwind down from the snowball fight/sock vs. fan mutilation, read your favorite holiday books while curled up with a mug of something warm.
- Watch a movie! Take it to the next level and watch the movie of the book you just read. My plan this year: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, of which we own both book and movie. Pop popcorn in your air popper for added festivity.
- Organize your closets/drawers/basement and make a pile of stuff to give away. Going through everything I own always makes me realize how much we already have. Seeing all of our stuff, and realizing how much I can get rid of, dampens my desire to shop.
Volunteer. Get out of the house and give back. Volunteer at a food pantry or shelter or wherever else needs you. Volunteering helps remove the focus from myself and my needs and wants. It reminds me of how grateful I am and of how very much I have.
- Make a list of everything good in your life. If you’re with family or friends, have them make lists and then read them aloud to each other.
- Color in a coloring book. Adult or child, this is so therapeutic. I recently started coloring in coloring books with my kids and I’ll be darned if it’s not super relaxing.
- Try out a new hobby or pick up an old one. Been wanting to resume knitting? Hoping to get into yoga? Start today. Start small, but get yourself going on something you think you’ll enjoy and that’ll be a good outlet for whatever you need: stress relief, creativity, exercise.
- Get out old family photos and dream up band names and album covers based on the highlights. See if you can enter yourself in an awkward family photo contest. Take it up a notch by re-creating old family favorites with grown kids (those are never weird-looking at all).