Despite the chaos, I love going shopping on Black Friday. It's a tradition I've kept up for around 10 years now.
I first started braving the Black Friday crowds in high school, when my mother and I would head to our local mall to buy Christmas presents for underprivileged families. Even after I left for college and started living on my own, the warm memories of spending time with my mom while helping those in need made the pseudo-holiday one of my favorites.
Although my Black Friday shopping habits haven't stayed quite as altruistic as they once were, over the past decade I've learned several tricks to take advantage of the deals without getting overwhelmed by the pandemonium.
My No. 1 tip for a stress-free Black Friday experience: Don't get there early.
Unless you're trying to buy an item on massive sale that you know will be under-stocked, there's no need to be the first person in line. In my experience, nearly every retailer features the same discounts throughout the day, and those are available whether you burst in at 6 a.m. or stroll by around noon.
Getting a later start allows me to take advantage of nearly all the same sales, only with more breathing room, because by the time I arrive, my favorite stores have cleared out a bit.
Here are three other ways I make the most of the day.