Many Christmas lovers will proudly boycott Black Friday this year.
Despite being the biggest sales and savings event of the year, many Americans avoid this commercially manufactured holiday at all costs.
Besides, Black Friday deals aren’t always that good. And they’re definitely not worth being shoved, shouted at, shot or stabbed over.
Add in the fact that retailers have been expanding the shopping frenzy well into Thanksgiving evening, and you get many people adopting a strong anti-black Friday sentiment. Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family.
If you’re looking to avoid this sad joke of a “holiday,” here are five cheap or free Black Friday alternatives to consider when avoiding this big corporate cash grab…
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1. Holiday craft fairs
Cities across the country offer holiday craft fairs or markets as an alternative to mall madness. For example, Des Moines, Iowa has a pop-up market day, Boulder, Colorado, has several family events, and in Brewer, Maine, you can attend the Annual Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts show hosted by the United Maine Craftsmen. There’s even a bluegrass festival in South Carolina during Black Friday weekend.
Craft fairs offer unique, hand-made products the likes of which you do not see in your average retail store. There is no shortage of craft fairs throughout the nation, so take the family out to peruse the homemade goods made by your fellow artisans.
2. Visit a state park
For nine years running, state parks in Virginia have sponsored a campaign called “OptOutside” to encourage people to skip Black Friday shopping to enjoy outdoor activities instead.
Nov. 28 through Dec. 1, Virginia State Parks will be holding a photo contest for amateur photographers to take their best shot of scenery from one of Virginia’s 38 award-winning state parks.
Virginia parks offer hayrides and Christmas stories, trail hiking, geocaching, holiday craft-making, and a Festival of Trees. All the events except for the hayride are free, and you just have to pay for parking.
Even if you don’t live in Virginia, check out the National Park Service Registry to find a park near you, and call to ask if they have any special events for Black Friday.
3. Browse the stacks, not the racks
Some libraries offer Black Friday Book sales, where you can buy secondhand books for a fraction of the prices you’d pay at Barnes and Noble. They may have bought one book, gotten one free deal, or even let you stuff a duffel bag with as many books as you can for two bucks. Some do the same with CDs and DVDs.
Contact your local library to learn more about its Black Friday alternatives. Oftentimes, the proceeds go to charity or back into the community, so this is also guilt-free shopping if you’re worried about sponsoring corporate profit machines.
4. Get a family meal you don’t have to cook
It’s not just retailers who offer deals – restaurants do too. These kinds of deals aren’t advertised as heavily or early as the Black Friday ads, but here are some we’ve seen before…
In 2013, Red Lobster offered a free Maine Lobster Tail with the purchase of an adult dinner entree for all of Black Friday a few years back. LongHorn Steakhouse offered a buy one lunch, get the second half off one year.
Chili’s had a deal where kids could eat free with the purchase of an adult entree.
This year, there are several of your favorite restaurants touting Black Friday food discounts. Check your favorite food chain’s social media channels to see if they have any special deals, along with any date and time stipulations to get delicious discounts.
5. Buy locally
Another way to shop guilt-free and stress-free is to keep it limited to locally owned stores. If you decide to shop on Black Friday, support small organizations where they appreciate your dollars much more than some retail conglomerate.
Little Boxes, a Portland shopping initiative, is an “alternative to the hubbub of big box stores.” Portland residents are encouraged to spend the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving searching for gifts from independently-owned shops, and you can download an app to make your shopping experience easier.
If you don’t live in Portland, Small Business Saturday is a national alternative to Black Friday madness. Although, ironically, it’s sponsored by American Express.