Don't let crowds, chaos and a crack-of-dawn wakeup call derail your relationship.
Planning on venturing out with your partner on Black Friday to make a dent in your holiday shopping? Congratulations: you're brave warriors! Shopping with your significant other can be a difficult task even in the best of times; holiday shopping under pressure — with frantic shoppers shoving you aside to nab the last $2 countertop appliance — can be a recipe for a relationship disaster. Have you seen Walmart at midnight on Black Friday? It's enough to drive even the most loving, centered couple to the brink of bitter, nasty bickering.
If you're still up to the challenge, try these tips to make the day manageable, productive...maybe even romantic.
1. Get on the same page. Before you even step foot out the door, have a meeting of the minds; agree on the objectives of your Black Friday excursion. Decide exactly what you're shopping for and why you're shopping for it. Is this a leisurely shopping trip so you can bond through the craziness, or do you actually need to cross people off of your gift giving list? Set realistic shopping goals and stick to a set budget, so you can be in and out before things get ugly.
2. Do your homework. If you're serious about taking advantage of these once-a-year deals, scour the Thanksgiving Day store circulars and search the internet (try Bfads.com or TheBlackFriday.com) so you're clear on the best bargains for your buck. Before you set out, be sure that you both have the right shopping apps on your smartphones (like GeoQpons or RetailmeNot), so you can each access coupon codes in case you get separated while standing in line.
3. Map out your logistics carefully — and realistically. Black Friday sales are more confusing than ever this year, with retailers opening at all different hours — some even as early as Thanksgiving Day — and staggering their deals. Be aware that if sales overlap or lines are long, you might not have time to go to multiple stores or score more than one super deal. Prioritize your needs and work together to achieve your most important goal.
4. Keep a cool head. Black Friday is notorious for wild crowds, long lines and parking lot gridlocks, so expect all of that. If you start feeling overwhelmed, try to relax and resist the temptation to give in to the panic or chaos around you. A fender bender in the Target parking lot isn't going to set the mood for a pleasant shopping experience with your spouse.
5. Dress comfortably. It's easy to become irritable or snappy if you're tired and uncomfortable, so make sure you dress for the occasion. If you're going to wait outside for Best Buy to open in freezing temps, wear warm clothing or bring a blanket to cuddle under. Wear layers in case you start to feel hot or claustrophobic in the mall (maybe let your partner strip them off later?). Also, remember to wear comfortable shoes. No one wants to walk (or run) for blue light deals in six-inch heels!
6. Divide and conquer. Separate if necessary to accomplish your goal and establish a set a meeting place where you can come back together. Send him to the electronics department (or in the direction of the jewelry in case he needs a hint) while you hit the childrens or home goods section. Secure your place in line while he grabs the gifts. Or, if he's not too keen on shopping, assign him a specific item to find and send him on his way.
7. Do something sweet. Treat your partner to a little surprise, like a candy bar from the check out lane or a Blu-Ray DVD to watch together later, to remind him or her just how much you love them. Remember to say, "Thank you for going into Black Friday battle with me." Gratitude goes a long way, especially on Thanksgiving.
8. Feed the hungry heart. If you're spending all night and morning in line, pack your partner's favorite snack or make a killer Thanksgiving leftover sandwich to share. Better yet, why not reward yourslves with a special breakfast at the local diner to celebrate your shopping successes? You can bond over the hungry man's breakfast of crispy bacon, eggs and buttermilk pancakes and laugh about what you just went through - together.
9. Know when to give up. If you feel the need to snap at your partner or you're having a mud-slinging blowout in the middle of Toys R Us, stop and ask yourself, is this really worth arguing over? Do I really want to behave this way? The answer is probably no. If you're still butting heads, call it a night (or day) and go home. Remember, there's always Cyber Monday, where you can shop online for even more great holiday deals alone - and spare your relationship.
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