Why these 77 alternatives to Black Friday are way cooler than that new gadget.
So you’re thinking of getting up at 3 a.m. on Black Friday?
With five barely digested portions of your Thanksgiving dinner in your belly, you're contemplating getting up at 3:00 in the morning. You may not be one of the over 25 million people working retail, and yet, you just know you'll find yourself trudging through the darkness en route to your local shopping center on Friday. It'll probably be cold. You might have that frost/mini-snowflake pattern thing crusting up on your windshield and the defrost won't kick in as fast as you'd like. I get it. You want to get that newest shiny toy for a moderate discount — for you or your family. Totally understandable.
But maybe you don't. Maybe you're going because everyone else is going. Maybe you're going because it's tradition. Maybe you're going just to see if there's anything you want to buy yourself. Maybe you'd rather do anything but shop on the biggest shopping day of the year.
So before you set that pre-dawn alarm on Friday, might I suggest...
77 other things you could do with your time on Black Friday:
1. Call* those who couldn’t be with you and yours on Thanksgiving.
You’ll be surprised how just a simple conversation can mean more than a million thanks.
*yes, call, don’t text
2. Donate to a charity that will help those less fortunate.
(And don’t post about it on social media ... you’ll thank yourself later.)
3. Move that football game with your buddies to Friday instead of Thursday during the day.
You’ll be rested and less likely to break your wrist trying to imitate Odell Beckham Jr. while wearing dungarees.
4. Have you ever tried sleeping in?
I do it once a month and it is the best thing ever.
5. Go to a park.
It will likely be the emptiest it’s ever been (though, if this idea takes off, sorry in advance if you walk into Woodstock).
6. This list is very important:
A book, a blanket, a cuppa, and a window. Trust me.
7. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
Balance out the abundance of Thanksgiving dinner with providing sustenance for those in need.
8. Write letters.*
To relatives, old friends, Amnesty International, or your favorite teacher or mentor.
*actual letters, not FB messages or anything involving an IP address
9. Listen to the Beatles.
Because there's nothing you can do that can't be done.
10. Make a December 1 resolution.
Get a month ahead of the curve and start those crazy things you’re thinking of doing for two weeks in January.
11. Eat all the leftovers.
Think about how much more of them you can eat if you don’t have to wake up at 3 a.m. to wait in line to buy an off-brand Blu-ray player for $17.
12. Watch all the movies.
There are some amazing movies with and without Benedict Cumberbatch in them out there. You should go see them.
13. Follow up on those things you said you were thankful for the day before.
Sometimes we go though the motion and thank everything we can think of before dinner on Thanksgiving because we’re just sitting there waiting to regret the third serving of canned cranberry. Go through that list and see how you can show your thanks.
14. Research the 2018 midterm elections.
Sorry, did I put you to sleep there? If you want change, now is the time to get involved and see how the races are shaping up. Presidential elections have turned into reality shows ... oh, how they did ... but hardly anyone votes in the midterms because they’re so borrrrring. Look up what happened to Obama’s power in 2010 and if that nightmare isn’t enough to shake up some activism in you, then just wait till Jan. 20.
15. Rewatch every episode of "Westworld" five times.
Because WHAT DOOR?
16. That closet/shed/storage space/shelf/cabinet that has all the stuff in it?
Clean it out, organize it from (a) "Things that you definitely don’t need to keep" to (b) "That wrinkly pea coat that you’ll definitely need in a few weeks."
17. Winter-proof your home!
With 30 years of New England winters under my belt, I feel your cold pain, my northern friends. This is less important for me, living in Los Angeles now, but for those of you in cooler climates, Black Friday is the perfect time to see what energy-saving steps you can take to save money and stay warmer through the winter.
18. Netflix and chill your leftover turkey.
Or reheat it. But make sure you have enough because Netflix will suck you in for days. (Yes, Netflix, I am still watching "Sense8." STOP ASKING ME.)
19. Does "aunt" rhyme with "haunt" or "ant"?
You talk to her roughly three times a year, maybe now's the time to dig down deep and finally answer the question of how it’s pronounced.
20. Plan or dream of a vacation outside your comfort zone.
I hear Argentina is lovely around the last third of January, or perhaps a nice jaunt to Manitoba in the spring. Hop online and do some research on places you’ve never dreamed of going. Hot tip? Mexico City is super affordable, close, and nothing short of stunning.
21. Who is your representative in Congress? Do you know?
Aha! Gotcha! Really, though — imagine there was no Google: How would you get in touch with the most important government employee responsible for representing you? Mine is Adam B. Schiff, and not only is he awesome, but I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him. His advice on how to have your voice heard? Call your representative. It’s that simple.
22. Have a friendly game night.
We all know every game of Monopoly ends up in a huge fight, so plan accordingly, and make sure to bankrupt the uncle who voted for Donald Trump as fast as possible.
23. Check out the latest books at Kirkus Reviews.
I know that this might lead to some kind of shopping. But they just released their "Best Of" lists for the year, and personally, I’m 100% excited to get "Super Extra Grande" before then and just take a minute and #6.
24. Craft day with the kids!
Instead of rushing into a department store and wading around like a sardine trapped in oil all day, grab the kids and grab some crafting materials and just create some hideous — I mean, beautiful — artwork for the fridge.
25. No kids? Craft day with yourself!
No kids here either. (It’s OK. Really. Where is this obsession with everyone having kids? Not everyone wants kids, OK? Some of us just want to do our solo craft projects in peace.)
So let’s make some awesome stuff.
26. Learn origami.
I’m sure there’s at least one video online that can show you how to make cranes and ... wait, what else is there besides cranes? See? All the more reason to find out.
27. Organize all your music.
Maybe you only have "Hamilton" and "Hamilton Mixtape" on repeat — all. the. time. But sometimes when you go searching for your favorite Barenaked Ladies jam, you don’t know if it’s on your phone, iPad, CD, laptop, etc. Take today and get the ball rolling on syncing up all your glorious tunes so that next time you wonder what he says after “Watching X-files with no lights on,” you can cue it up on any device you have handy.
28. Find out how to say “in the house” in French.
29. Rewatch the entire "Back to the Future" trilogy
Yes, Nike released self-tying shoes, the Cubs won, and Biff got elected, but there’s also a happy ending in there ... somewhere.
30. Days and nights at the museums.
How about getting yourself the gift of knowledge, culture, history, art, and more?
Lots of museums have Black Friday events, and while they’ll probably be crowded, they'll likely have less of a "running of the bulls" vibe as your local mall.
31. Don’t cook a single thing.
Get creative with those leftovers. Have you ever had a cranberry/stuffing/sweet potato sandwich on two slices of thick cut turkey? You’re welcome.
32. Or bake everything.
Main course is all set (see above), but how about the heavenly smell of fresh baked bread, pecan pie, or cinnamon rolls piping through your house as you bask in your decision to not leave the house at 4:00 in the morning to fight over a toy that will be ignored two days after Christmas.
33. Update your Bucket List.
Highlights on mine include: learning to knit, going skydiving, and seeing "Hamilton." What about you?
34. Decide on the best trilogy ever and watch it. All of it. Extended editions too.
"Star Wars"? Indy? "Back to the Future"? "Qatsi"? "Before Midnight"? "Toy Story"? "Lord of the Rings"? "Matrix"? "Twilight" (kidding)?
35. Support local businesses.
Obviously you're avoiding the malls and stores with massive plastic signs, but if you head down to your local “main street” and pop into some of the local family-owned shops, chances are they’ll appreciate your patronage and you’ll be helping your community in more ways than one.
36. Bubble. Bath.
When was the last time you just dipped into soapy, bubbly hot goodness and just relaxed?
37. Unplug for a bit.
Try it for a few hours. It’ll be hard and the phantom vibrations will drive you nuts for a the first 20-30 minutes, but then ... oh, then ... you’ll feel 100% more relaxed.
38. Avoid using #blessed.
True enlightenment doesn’t require a data plan.
39. See if you can help out your parents with anything.
I wish I could still do this, so if anything, for me, give them a call, head over, and see if they need help with anything around the house. You know, if you can.
40. Have a "Monty Python" marathon.
Because with today’s current events, it's so good to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."
41. Immerse yourself in "The Crown. "
Wait. You haven’t seen "The Crown"? OK. Well that’s literally your entire Black Friday right there.
42. Make sure your younger siblings still know who’s in charge.
Noogies were a great method back in the day, but simply making them do the dishes does wonders to reassert your oldest sibling status. It’s the little things.
43. Debate the merits of and rank local cuisine from around the country.
44. Define "materialism."
45. Have you heard of this website called Upworthy?
If there’s one internet hole you can fall all the way down in, I suggest reading some of the stories you can find on this very website. They’re pretty damn thoughtful and all the smiles and empathy are 100% free.
46. Rank the greatest sports teams of all time.
What metric will you use? Titles? Global reach? David Ortiz? So far, I have the Yankees in second to last place, but of course, any team that appropriates native culture is at the bottom of the list as well.
47. Rewatch "The Godfather" duology.
Because there are only TWO Godfather movies that matter. (Thanks, Sophia.)
48. Follow people you admire online.
Because it would be super sketchy if you did it IRL. Stop trying to make stalking cute, Hollywood. It's not.
49. Order a pizza from a local joint.
If you can, order pizza from a mom-and-pop shop that is probably using the same recipe they’ve had in the family for 100 years instead of from a massive corporation. Eat all the history.
50. Use the internet for good.
I joke about certain hashtags, but there are so many out there that are socially conscious and helping to bring about change. Take a look: #YesAllWomen, #BlackLivesMatter, #UmbrellaRevolution, and #WhyIStayed #WhyILeft are some that have made an impact.
51. Make plans to march to the best mall ever on Jan. 21.
You know, with 1 million other women who are also marching. With signs. Justice and liberty for all has no price, after all.
52. Watch a movie and also learn about climate change.
"Before the Flood," a movie produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, and others, is a moving documentary that helps us understand even further the steps we need to take regarding climate change.
53. Write something.
You don’t have to finish it on Friday, but have you ever had an idea for a short story? A book? A poem? An article? It usually takes some guy named Lin-Manuel six-seven years to write something, so don’t feel rushed. Sit back and jot down some ideas and see where your imagination takes you.
54. Make a baby...
You know, if you want to and are totally ready to. Otherwise, make sure you're fully protected.
55. ...or adopt a pet.
Because they are adorable, loyal, always happy, and did I mention adorable? Go to an adoption center and just try to not walk out with a new best friend.
56. Make mulled wine.
It’s so good. (You can totally do this on Thursday as well.) But the smell and the warmth is 100% what Thanksgiving weekend should feel like.
57. Make some handmade gifts.
For example, lazy and delicious handmade vanilla extract. You’ll save money and be the coolest.
58. Get involved in your local government.
You’d be surprised how much thought goes into, “Should we put a stop sign there?” I have friends who felt the same way and a year later they've become elected neighborhood council members; they get to help make the decisions with their constituency. Research it online and make a game plan.
59. Take a hike.
60. Figure out how to play this game well.
When you're done with the Monopoly debacle, try wrapping your head around Go, which is considered the hardest game in the world. It “possesses more possibilities than the total number of atoms in the visible universe.”
61. Have a video game marathon.
Blow into those cartridges, fire up the ol' Sega Genesis, and demolish all the Sonic levels. (I am definitely not a child of the '80s.)
62. It's Black Friday, so stick to a theme: watch "Black Sails," "Black Mirror," and "Orphan Black."
Jury is still out on "Code Black" though.
63. Write some cards.
Don’t print them out. Don’t use a template. Go old school here. Jot down some thank-you notes, some well wishes, or even some holiday cheer. Oh, and you have to make sure you send them. So buy stamps.
64. Watch the best coach in sports lose to my home team.
The National Basketball Association seems to be the league having the right kinds of conversations. Gregg Popovich is what all coaches should be. The Boston Celtics are rebuilding. It’s an early game so enjoy it and maybe we’ll have a miracle. There are also plenty of other entertaining games from one of the best sports league in America.
65. Clear the air with your family after awkward election conversations.
So you had some awkward conversations about politics with your relatives. First, take a breather and regroup. But then, if you're up for it, the day after is a good time to revisit why they feel a certain way and what can be done to unite as a whole, starting with your family. If they’re OK with having some respectful dialogue, give it a whirl. If not, remember you probably only need to see them a few times a year.
66. OK, so if you must shop:
See if you can find some gifts that give back, that are socially conscious, that do more than just pick up dust in your random stuff closet.
67. Turn your leftovers into a Frankenstein meal.
Have you ever had a turkey/stuffing/cranberry pie made from scratch? Have you ever made potato pancakes on the griddle using just mashed potatoes from the vat from last night? You’re welcome.
68. Marathon some Broadway show tunes and try to sing along.
I’m 100% serious here.
69. Branch out from Broadway. Try local theater.
When’s the last time you went to your local theater? Escapism a wonderful thing, so look up what’s happening in your regional theaters. I bet there are no fewer than 50 "Godspell," "Oklahoma!," "Fiddler on the Roof," and "Hello, Dolly!" productions happening right now. Even better? You’ll be supporting local artists and community organizations.
There are countless improv troupes, stand-up comedians, and other people who tell jokes in exchange for money out there. Find a local comedy club or comedy show, grab a table, and get ready to laugh uncontrollably.
71. Throw a cuddle party.
Significant other? Puppy? Teddy bear? Comforter? Oversized pillow? Find the position where everything is just perfect, put your phone on mute, and spend a couple hours just dozing with your favorite cuddle buddy.
72. Go all-in on some sweet, sweet nap time.
See 71 above. More of a solo cuddle party kind of person? That’s totally fine because this way no one can judge you for your deafening snoring. The struggle is real.
73. Watch movies about the dystopian future.
Just in case you might actually need those survival skills soon.
74. Donate your old clothes.
Clean out your closet. Get rid of the clothes you don't wear anymore or don't want and find them a better home. Goodwill takes a variety of donations, but did you know there are organizations that specifically accept donated business clothes? Don’t want that old suit? Donate it! It can actually help someone get a job.
75. Paint things every color.
Finger? Watercolor? Spin art? Bob Ross? Your old room? Plan new colors for the new year.
76. Do something you think is childish.
Eat something with your hands. Go play in a pile of leaves. Eat mac and cheese with hot dogs. Draw on the walls. Spin around until you fall over. Watch a Disney movie.
77. Appreciate ... something.
You don’t actually have to do anything today. You could just sit back and appreciate that you have all these options, and more importantly, that you are, hopefully, lucky enough to share them with family, friends, and more.
Black Friday doesn't have to be a soul-sucking, manic corporate nightmare if you don't want it to be.
If you love shopping on Black Friday? Sure, go for it. If you need to shop on Black Friday? Do it.
But you don't have to shop just because everyone else is.
Shopping on Black Friday not only means being away from your family, it also means thousands of workers across the country will be away from theirs, likely working long hours and extended shifts. So if you can, just say "no" to Black Friday shopping, and pick one or two or three of the items on this list to spend your day enjoying instead.