How to Survive Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday–a day holding the promise of great savings on everything from electronics to handbags. If you have a penchant for saving money, Black Friday may be your favorite day of the year. Still, from waiting in long lines to waking up at the crack of dawn, there are more than just a few downsides to participating in this national day of savings.

How to Survive Black Friday Shopping

Fortunately, with a bit of inside knowledge, you can take advantage of financial savings without becoming too frustrated or giving up on Black Friday altogether. Before you decide to throw in the towel, take a look at these strategies we’ve put together for Black Friday shopping.

Go Digital

Did you know that you can find some of the best deals online? Many of the in-store offers that have your mouth watering are also available for purchase on the company’s website. To track all the best deals for the upcoming season, visit blackfriday.com.

While Cyber Monday has had people talking for years, a lot of corporations also offer significant online shopping savings leading up to and on Black Friday. Wouldn’t you rather travel to your laptop at 5 a.m. instead of the local shopping mall? Consider making your major purchases over the Internet this year–you may even get free shipping, and many stores permit in-store exchanges for items purchased online.

Shop Early

Sure, some items on your Black Friday shopping list can only be purchased the day after Thanksgiving. A trade secret, however, is that many of the deals advertised for Black Friday are actually available a few days beforehand.

Many major retailers set their sales prices for an entire week at a time, usually beginning on a Sunday and running until the following Saturday. Unless an item is specifically on sale for a limited number of hours on Black Friday, it’s worth calling the store to see if the sale price offered that day is any different from the price earlier in the week. Shopping early cuts down on the items you must purchase on Black Friday.

Divide and Conquer

Do you have a friend or family member who also ventures out on Black Friday? Split up your shopping list. If you both want items at the local mall and an electronics store on the other side of town, send one representative to each store.

You will wait in the same long lines whether you are getting items from your own shopping list or picking up some things for a friend. You can get together afterward and swap items and payment as necessary. Dividing and conquering can save you hours of battling crowds and standing in lines.

Do Some Recon

Figure out where the items on your shopping list are located in each store. Given the hectic nature of Black Friday, it’s bad strategy to walk into a two-level department store for the first time. If you have your eye on a pair of boots, find out where the shoe department is well in advance.

Likewise, sometimes certain brands are always featured toward the front of a department, while others are located in the back corner. Having an idea of where items are located will save you time and may also mean the difference between snagging a coveted item or going home empty handed.

Get a Ride

Circling for a parking spot on Black Friday can eat up hours of your time. If you are dreading this part of Black Friday, you’re not alone. If you can’t find the best deals online, confronting the cruel reality of Black Friday parking may seem to be an inevitability.

You do have other options. Whether your spouse drops you off, you opt to take a taxi cab or you carpool with friends, avoiding the melee of the parking lot is winning half the battle. If you drive, you might miss out on an important item on your shopping list because you spent an hour trying to find a place to park your car.

Black Friday can simultaneously excite voracious shoppers and strike fear into the hearts of adults. If you must venture out on this day of shopping, go with a plan and don’t go alone if you can help it. While Black Friday is stressful, it can also be a great way to get your holiday shopping done while saving money.

Are you a Black Friday shopper? Tell us your strategies for shopping and saving success. Apartment Guide would love to hear from you on Twitter.

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How to Survive Black Friday

Photo Credit: Christian Rivera

Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

Do your kids complain about being bored while you are busy preparing Thanksgiving dinner? You’re not alone! This year, instead of having the kids watch Thanksgiving specials on TV, put their creative minds to use and have them make the decorations.

Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

If there’s one thing kids love, it’s using their creativity to contribute to the holidays. There are plenty of absorbing, easy craft ideas for kids that will not only keep them away from the hot oven, but really make them feel like part of the clan. Check out these awesome Thanksgiving crafts for kids, and let your little ones do the decorating this year.

Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Making the Thanksgiving centerpiece is not the easiest craft idea, but it is perhaps the most coveted of all tasks. This is the sort of craft that takes dedication and planning, which is perfect for older children. Your kids can either work together on this project or create several centerpieces that will have a prominent position on the dining table.

If the notion of a Thanksgiving centerpiece is new to your child, explain its significance. In most households, the centerpiece reflects the spirit of the holiday in an artistic way. Give examples to make the project more clear–a cornucopia filled with fruits and vegetables, a pilgrim side-by-side with a native American, a plate full of squash and gourds with a giant turkey on top.

Younger children can use Play-Doh, paper and crayons, while older children can be a bit more creative. If you like, you can design the foundation of the centerpiece so your younger kids aren’t confused about what to make.

Thanksgiving Storybooks

Thanksgiving storybooks are high on the list of easy craft ideas–all this project takes is paper, crayons and a bit of research. Challenge your kids to write their own versions of the story of the first Thanksgiving, complete with illustrations.

Of course, they may prefer to come up with a new story if this doesn’t pique their interest. Either way, the kids can use several sheets of folded paper to write their stories and create their drawings. When the stories are finished, staple the pages together at the center fold.

Let them read their stories out loud to the dinner guests, or the more ambitious children may enjoy acting out their stories with sock puppets.

Holiday Banner

What party is complete without a holiday banner? There are many ways to approach this Thanksgiving craft, but all of them are equally fun. Depending on the age of the children and your available craft supplies, the kids can either design a banner freehand on several sheets of paper, draw one up and print it on the computer, or use a combination of computer graphics, freehand drawing and coloring, construction paper cut-outs, glue and sparkles.

“Happy Thanksgiving” contains a lot of letters, so make sure you have enough paper for a large banner. When the finished product is dry and ready, hang it up on existing curtain or picture hooks to avoid making new holes in the walls or stripping paint off with tape.

“What I’m Thankful For” Box

Many families take the time on Thanksgiving to think about what they are truly thankful for. Why not let the kids make a special box to collect all the proclamations of gratitude? The “What I’m Thankful For” box can be as complicated or as simple as you like.

An empty Kleenex box covered with construction paper is aPaper, cardboard and scissors are needed for this children’s holiday craft. You’ll also need some comment cards for guests to fill out and stuff into the box — consider letting an older child take the lead on the box while a younger one handles the comment cards.

More Than Just Thanksgiving Crafts

Thanksgiving is a day of celebration. For families, it is about togetherness and being part of a clan. That feeling of being needed, of participating, is perhaps more important for children than it is for the adults in the family. When you take the time to help your children create something as part of the Thanksgiving Day dinner and celebration, you are doing far more than distracting them while you make sure dinner is top-notch. You’re helping them create great holiday memories and explore their creative side.

Let us know all about your kids’ Thanksgiving crafts by tagging Apartment Guide on Twitter.

Photo Credit: terren in Virginia

How to Save Money on a Thanksgiving Meal

Ready to have all of your friends over for a Thanksgiving meal? Don’t let the upcoming holidays hamper your culinary dreams.

You don’t need a lot of money to cook a memorable meal for Thanksgiving. Read these great money saving tips for a Thanksgiving meal on the cheap.

How to Save Money on Your Thanksgiving Meal

Handling the Turkey

Many grocery stores run promotions on their turkeys, offering them up as loss leaders. The turkeys are a standard part of the Thanksgiving dinner, so you’re going to buy one no matter what.

The grocery stores want to get you in the door to purchase all the extra fixings that go along with this meal. Some stores offer free turkeys if you have enough reward points through their programs, while others price their turkeys at under $1 per pound.

If you have the space in your fridge and you don’t mind waiting for the turkey to thaw, get even more for your money by opting for frozen turkey. It takes a few days to completely thaw a turkey, so keep that in mind if you want to go this route. Avoid running the turkey under water to thaw it out, as this results in a dangerous temperature level for food safety.

Keep an Eye on Coupons

Another way to cut down on your Thanksgiving meal costs is by maximizing coupon use for your local stores. Check the grocery store sites and manufacturers’ websites the closer you get to Thanksgiving. Wait for your grocery stores to coupon match existing coupons so you get double the value.

Create a Meal Plan

Before heading to the grocery store, create a complete meal plan so you don’t end up purchasing far more than what you actually need. When you purchase only what you need, you won’t have to worry about significant food waste after the festivities.

After all, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to deal with in the week after. Another benefit of creating a meal plan is having a concise grocery list to consult when you’re making your purchases. To save the most amount of time, organize your grocery list according to the aisles in your store.

Skip the Boxed Options

Boxed and prepackaged sides are tempting when you’re cooking for a large group, but creating everything from scratch is less expensive, healthier and gives you better control over what you’re putting in the food.

Stock up on ingredients such as butter, flour, eggs, sugar, bread and other essentials necessary for creating classic Thanksgiving dishes. Many recipe sites provide step-by-step instructions, or even videos, to help with creating these dishes. You don’t have to be a master chef to create a memorable Thanksgiving for your friends and family at your apartment.

Understand Your In-Season Options

One thing that drives up your costs is attempting to buy produce out of season. Not only do you get lower quality produce, you’re also paying a premium because it is shipped across the country, or even internationally.

Watch for the in-season options in your area, such as Brussels sprouts and other late harvest vegetables. If you must have something not in season, go to your frozen food section. These vegetables are flash frozen when harvested, so they are at peak quality compared to the out-of-season produce offerings.

The exact type of produce available varies based on your geographic location, and if you’re lucky, there may be a farmers markets continuing into November to provide you with farm-fresh produce.

Consider a Thanksgiving Meal Potluck

Want to really cut down on the cost without asking your friends and family to pitch in monetarily? Ask them to bring side dishes, drinks or desserts for a Thanksgiving potluck. A potluck is also great if you have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or friends with other dietary restrictions who worry they won’t have anything to eat beyond a veggie platter at your dinner.

If possible, create a collaborative list so all your guests see who is bringing what to your get together. With a collaborative list, you won’t end up with three bowls of pasta salad and no extra desserts. Handle the basics yourself, such as the Thanksgiving turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Tweet us your favorite Thanksgiving recipes and other money-saving tips that we might have missed @AptGuide.

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How to save money on Thanksgiving meal

Photo Credit: Dan Tentler

Best Towns to Experience a Thanksgiving Parade in Person

Parade Central in New York City: the setting for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Parade Central in New York City: the setting for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

According to travel service giant AAA, over 40 million people will take a weekend vacation this Thanksgiving.

This year, you may want to hit up one of these towns where popular parades bring people together to celebrate all they are thankful for.

According to the Travel Channel, these cities are where you’ll find the Top Five Thanksgiving Day parades. If you want to enjoy a little ticker tape before your turkey, these towns are your best bets!

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Happy Thanksgivukkah! How to Celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the Same Day

Happy Thanksgivukkah! How to Celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the Same DayIf you like your turkey with a side of latkes, you’re in for a very rare treat this year: The second night of Hanukkah is also Thanksgiving.

Hanukkah begins on the exact same date every year in the Hebrew calendar, but because that’s different from the 365-day Gregorian calendar commonly used in the United States, the eight-day Festival of Lights starts at different times in November or December each year. This year, the two holidays overlap – an exceedingly rare occurrence. The last time this happened was in 1888, and by one estimate, it won’t happen again for another 77,798 years!

Of course, this hasn’t gone unnoticed. There’s a full-blown “Thanksgivukkah” movement afoot – and we didn’t make that up; there’s even a Thanksgivukkah Facebook page. And while Thanksgiving and Hanukkah aren’t usually connected, they have more in common than you might think. Both relate to religious freedom: The Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving as they sought liberty in the New World, and Hanukkah marks the ancient Jews’ fight against their Greek oppressors.

So, whether you’re celebrating both holidays anyway or you just want to mark this rare occasion on November 28, we have some ideas for how to combine these two holidays into a special once-in-a-lifetime day.

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No Thanks: 4 Logical Reasons to Spend Thanksgiving Alone

choosing to spend Thanksgiving aloneWhen you think of Thanksgiving, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Cheesy thoughts of an overly happy family gathered around a perfectly golden turkey and heaping mounds of mashed potatoes is probably what you imagine.

But that’s not the case for everyone. Believe it or not, some people do choose to spend Thanksgiving without their friends and family.

But why?

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Black Friday is for Shopping — Not Clearing Your Garbage Disposal! (Infographic)

Click the image to view the full infographic!

Click the image to view the full infographic!

Don’t send your Thanksgiving down the drain!

Plumbers report that the day after Thanksgiving is their busiest day of the year for housecalls.

Don’t let plumbing woes distract you from your Black Friday shopping this year.

Check out these do’s – and mostly don’ts — for how to treat your apartment plumbing with care after Thanksgiving dinner is cleared away. Stay on friendly terms with your apartment community maintenance team by following these directions!

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Formal Table Vs. Buffet: Pointers to Perfect Your Thanksgiving Food Style

No matter how you choose to arrange your Thanksgiving feast, always make sure there's a utensil in every dish.

No matter how you choose to arrange your Thanksgiving feast, always make sure there’s a utensil in every dish.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, the food takes center stage. Each November, there’s nothing we love more than seeing a perfectly roasted turkey surrounded by stuffing, cranberry sauce, casseroles and more pecan pie than you can shake a Pilgrim at. It’s a feast for our eyes before it even get to our stomachs.

Depending on the size of your kitchen and your family, it can be daunting to arrange all that food. Do you go for the formal setting and set everything on the dining room table, resigning yourself to a neverending chorus of “Pass the yams, please”? Or do you throw formality to the wind and set up everything in the kitchen, buffet-style, and let everyone get their own gosh-darn yams?

Either way is OK by us. No matter your Thanksgiving style, here are some pointers to arrange the food so everyone gets to gobble to their heart’s content.

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10 Budget-Friendly Tips for Hosting a Thanksgiving Day Feast

budget friendly Thanksgiving dinnerWhether you’re a first time host or a veteran one thing is for sure: preparing for Thanksgiving dinner is a full-time job. The best way to save yourself from going completely insane is to start early.

With Thanksgiving just about a week away, there’s still plenty of ways you can plan now to have a glorious holiday.

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Go Meat-Free This Thanksgiving With Delicious Vegetarian Dishes

meat-free thanksgiving

These vegetarian dishes will make you forget all about turkey this Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, if you’re a vegetarian, give thanks for the fact that you can have such a healthy and delicious meal that you won’t even think twice about the fact that it’s sans turkey. Here’s how.

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad (adapted from Chow.com)

With all the meat, cream-based casseroles and starchy vegetables abounding, salads can get lost in the Thanksgiving shuffle. So start your meal off with this light and healthy squash salad that’s as delicious as it is beautiful.

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