Let’s be honest… Black Friday is a pretty ridiculous time of year.  Everything about it: the ungodly hour of being awake, the crazy sales retailers dangle at consumers like a big juicy carrot, and, of course, the shamelessly barbaric behavior to which far too many shoppers resort to snag that last VS Push-Up.  If you do manage to brave the loss of sleep, safety, and above all else, money, congratulations.  For all you die-hard shoppers, here’s a few tips to prep for the madness:

1) Plan ahead. Duh.  I realize this one is as obvious as nudity on a billboard ad.  But, the worst mistake, dear shoppers, is failing to execute this step, and therefore stands fittingly as my first tip.  So, sit down and make a list of what you want out of your shopping experience.  What is it you want?  What is it you need?  For whom do you still need to finish your Christmas shopping?  Make a list, and revise it as you need to.  Know exactly what you’re diving after before leaping into the retail abyss.  This step will also apply toward the remaining steps on this list.

2) Draft a schedule. Be realistic.  If you’re hopeless at staying awake half the night without ever going to bed, take a nap that afternoon.  Figure out what you need to do to power through the hour and stick with it.  On a similar note…

3) Map out your route. Find out (1) which stores have what you’ll be shopping for and (2) their relative location to one another.  If Target has all your techie goodies on sale but lies forty minutes away from the mall – where all your coveted threads are flying off the racks – does it make sense to spend all that time in the car?  If the answer is yes, then prioritize the order of stops by which sales will clearly be showing highest demand.  Remember the golden rule for Black Friday: “Thou shalt always remember the concept of ‘first come, first serve,’ and act accordingly.”  That is, will your black Madewell skinnies you’ve been eyeing still be there?

4) Ask around. Have a friend who camped outside of Best Buy last year to score the latest techie toy?  Ask him or her the deets – i.e., how early they got there, how long they ended up waiting in line, and so on.  If a retailer has been advertising mad savings on that Apple watch and you want in on it, hey, bite the bullet.  (When you do, let me know if it’s worth it.)

5) Energize.  Coffee?  Check.  Wake-me-up midnight workout?  Check.  More coffee?  Double check.  Do what you need to do to not only stay awake, but to stay as sharp as you possibly can.  Shopping is a highly mental and psychological undertaking – you need all the brain power you can harness for the big night.

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Phew.  That should cover it…and I haven’t even touched the topic of Cyber Monday. Essentially, stick with tips 1, 2, and 4, but maybe cool it on 3 and 5. Now go forth and conquer, my retail queens.  Be sure to tweet me your most boast-worthy purchases!