By now, the majority of us have our Black Friday routine down. We wake ourselves up ridiculously early, brew a pot of the strongest coffee we can handle, and then venture out in the retail madness that’s taken over our local stores. If all goes well, our shopping excursion will end at sunrise with our carts full of presents and our credit cards nearly maxed.
However, more often than not, we instead find ourselves in a sleep-induced delirium, fighting a stranger over the last 50 percent-off waffle iron at our local Walmart and wishing we had chosen to stay in our warm, cozy beds.
The good news is that Black Friday doesn’t have to be this way. With more people choosing to do their holiday shopping online, and even some retailers keeping their doors shut, there’s now a ton of alternative ways to spend your Black Friday.
1. Holiday-Themed Festivals
With Thanksgiving as the unofficial start of the holiday season, Black Friday is often the opening day of holiday-themed festivals across the United States. One of the most well-known is Chicago’s Christkindlmarket, which is modeled after a traditional German Christmas market. There you’ll find a ton of seasonal goodies to munch on, holiday wares to buy and homemade presents to fill your stockings. It’s a fun way to get in the seasonal spirit that doesn’t require a two a.m. wake up call.
2. Pop Up Shops and Craft Shows
If shopping is a Black Friday must for you, consider staying away from the big box retailers and instead visit a local pop-up shop or craft show. A lot of cities, like Houston, host big festivals full of pop-up shops of small local retailers to sell their products. You’ll get to browse a ton of unique products and not have to worry about fighting anyone over the last doorbuster deal.
3. College Football
For many people, the only thing that’s almost as important as the turkey on Thanksgiving is the football. And while there may not be any NFL games on Black Friday, there are a ton of college football games happening. If you live near a campus with a major football team, consider grabbing tickets for a game. You’ll still get the crowds and excitement that Black Friday brings, and your credit card is sure to be a lot happier.
4. Holiday Light Displays
Instead of waking up early on Black Friday, stay out late instead. Black Friday is often the first night for many beautiful holiday light displays like the one at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. Depending where you live, it can be the perfect time to go since the cold December winds typically drop the temperature and bring on the snow.
If you’re one of the many people who aren’t too fond of the consumerist nature of Black Friday, instead of spending money, spend time giving back to those in need. If you already have a place you love to volunteer at, let them know you’re planning on stopping in. If you’re looking to help out somewhere new, use a website like VolunteerMatch to find the perfect place to donate your time.