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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

As our lives ease their way into normality from the onset of the pandemic, more people are going out more often, and businesses are gradually leveling back up to pre-pandemic sales. With Thanksgiving approaching, perhaps our festivities will be more engaged compared to those of last year. There will be more traveling, more feasting, and – most importantly – more shopping. As someone who has done Black Friday shopping for over ten years, I would like to share some tips on how you can make the most out of your Black Friday shopping experience.

look at the ads ahead of time

Since Black Friday is known for ramping up sales, many stores traditionally (and still continue to) release their ads weeks ahead, which include all the items they will be selling that day, along with the prices accompanying them. By searching up the ads for your stores of choice and making a list of the items you plan to buy, you can reduce the stress of not knowing what to purchase the day of.

Black Friday isn’t just on Friday.

In fact, many stores begin their Black Friday sales as early as Thursday night and then later extend into what is known as Cyber Monday. If you have a packed schedule on Friday, or if you prefer to shop when it’s less crowded (or not crowded at all), either of these days would be a great alternative. Plus, there’s a higher chance that you can buy everything on your shopping list. Thursday nights have fewer shoppers because many of them may be celebrating Thanksgiving at home with their families. Cyber Monday is all online, so you don’t have to worry about things like long lines and shopping traffic.

grab now, eliminate later.

Whether you’re shopping online or in person, I recommend grabbing everything that catches your eye and placing it in your cart right away. That way, you at least have many items to choose from in case you wanted something beyond what was on your shopping list. Of course, make sure to do this quickly, because you may end up losing time to shop for your main items.  Once you think you’ve reached a good stopping point, take a breather, then take inventory of what’s inside your cart. Your cart may be fuller than expected, but that’s the point. This is the time when you can eliminate anything you don’t want or need. Whether you end up buying less or more than your shopping list, at least you had the chance to take a look at all the different options the store had to offer.

make a schedule and arrive early.

What I find interesting about Black Friday is that many stores don’t operate at their typical hours, and their opening times vary from one another. Before you begin your Black Friday spree, it’s important to check the specific days and times that the stores you will visit open. From there, you can create a schedule of which ones you would like to shop at first, and which ones are last. I would recommend arriving at least fifteen minutes before the actual opening time because you will need to find parking. In general, it’s always a good idea to be there early because there’s more in stock, as opposed to approaching the closing time.

Whether or not you enjoy Black Friday shopping, I think most of us can agree that it is one of the most chaotic shopping experiences of the year. That’s why it’s always great to carry some pieces of wisdom along with you before you hit the stores. While my advice didn’t necessarily suggest that you bring pepper spray or camp outside the stores (thankfully), I hope this article gave you some realistic insights on how to shop smart this Black Friday.

Gennah Penalosa is currently the social media director for Her Campus CU Boulder. She is a senior studying finance at the Leeds School of Business. When she is not doing homework, you can find her listening to music or drawing the face of a random celebrity.