Black Friday Countdown: How to Prepare for the Big Day

With Black Friday less than a week away, it's time to get prepared for the biggest shopping day of the year. We've got a few sage tips to make your Black Friday experience safe, sane and most of all, successful.

The Week Before

Channel your inner Santa Claus and make a list and check it twice. Black Friday is not the day for meandering around the shopping malls aimlessly wondering what to buy Aunt Edna. You have to have your game on, and that means organization. Do your research and make a list of which items you want to score and who you're buying them for. Not sure what to get certain people on your list? There are several good online sites that can help you find the perfect gift.

Don't forget to bring this list with you on Black Friday. Amid the crowds and excitement, you're bound to lose sight of your shopping goals.

You'll definitely want to map out your route for the day as well, deciding on which stores to hit first, and where to go within them to find your booty. Not surprisingly, there's an app for that. Actually, there are many apps -- lots of them free! -- that you can download to help you maximize your spending dollar on Black Friday.

Last but not least, it's probably a good idea to get yourself a backup cell phone battery. No sense in letting what is arguably your most important piece of equipment for Black Friday run out of juice on the day itself. Mophie makes a good one for the iPhone 4. Read a review of the Mophie Juice Pack on our sister site, Engadget.

Thanksgiving Day

If you can't stand the heat (or the anticipation), get out of the kitchen -- and get yourself down to the drugstore or newsstand and buy a newspaper or three. What you're looking for isn't the news, it's the ads. The Thanksgiving Day newspapers are loaded with them. Sure, you'll have a bead on special Black Friday deals thanks to the news alerts retailers are sending you via your smartphone, but there are bound to be some that are print-only.

Black Friday Morning

Set your alarm. Early. Remind yourself once again why you're doing this. It's Black Friday, and the deals are insanely good. If you're going to worship at the altar of consumerism, it's always best to set an intention.

Dress comfortably in layers, and for goodness sake, wear sensible shoes. You're going to be on your feet all day fighting the crowds -- you don't need to look good to find the best deals.

Pack snacks. You're going to get hungry at some point (Eating a good breakfast will help, but not indefinitely.), and you're not going to want to stop for lunch. High-protein snacks that don't need refrigeration and can fit in your purse or pocket are your best bet for Black Friday. Trail mix is a good choice, as is fruit and energy bars. Black Friday is one day you want to eat on the go.

If you're a coffee achiever, you know what to do. But remember what goes in must also come out. Do you want to interrupt the Black Friday shopping frenzy for a bathroom break?

Are you ready? Get out there and shop! And good luck!
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