An Alternative Way To Spend Black Friday

The ads pop into my inbox.

  • Fifty-percent off.
  • Lowest prices of the season.
  • Best deals of the year.
  • Buy-one-get-one-free.

Temptation is the worst part of the holiday season for me. Those deeply discounted promotions lure me to spend money on items we really don’t need, so now I delete each new email and immediately unsubscribe from future notices.

Black Friday is synonymous with shopping, but so far I haven’t felt the need to grab my wallet or pull out my credit card. I avoid stores, advertisements and Christmas catalogs that make their way into my home.

Decluttering on Black Friday

A decade ago I created an alternative way to celebrate Black Friday. Rather than heading to the mall or filling my digital shopping cart I spend the day decluttering.

I grab my favorite headphones, turn up the tunes and start digging through closets, bookshelves and drawers for anything and everything we no longer use or need.

My Black Friday goals are simple. I want to remove unnecessary stuff, make room for holiday gifts and focus on gratitude.

Making Space

My family and I are blessed beyond belief. We don’t really need anything new in our lives, but every December relatives ask for a wish list anyway. I grab a sheet of paper and jot down consumable products and experiences I know the kids will enjoy.

Then I wait for well meaning relatives to ignore the list and give my children a leaning tower of gifts on Christmas Day. Each year the boys receive more presents than they can count, so I remove the clutter in advance. It helps make space for the influx of new stuff headed our way.

On Black Friday I clear the shelves, empty the drawers and happily pass on our unwanted belongings to those in need. I don’t just make space. I dig through the back of closets and drawers and ask my children to evaluate each and every article of clothing we see.

We declutter and organize the boy’s rooms. Then I clean out my own closets and dresser drawers.

The process takes an entire day. I sort through our clothing, sheets, blankets and towels. Then make my way into the kitchen, the dining room and the rest of the rooms where we live and play.

Last year I filled three boxes with unwanted stuff including kitchen gadgets that no longer work, a set of sheets we’ve never used and old towels that are too ratty to dry dishes anymore.

Helping My Children Feel Grateful

When I reach the basement I gather my boys and painstakingly parse through the toy shelves. I want both of my kids to embrace the act of minimizing their possessions and clearing out their space.

I know some parents sneak into the basement at night and discard their children’s belongings, but I believe the kids need to learn how to prioritize their possessions and make those decisions for themselves.

We create three piles for them.

  • Keep
  • Not Sure
  • Donate

The toys and books they want to keep go right back onto the shelves. Then we gather the unwanted items in a big brown box for donation. The boys help me carry their unwanted possessions outside and load them into the car. As a family we drive them to the donation center and talk about how blessed we are to give away what we don’t need.

We place the remaining items, (stuff from the ‘not sure’ pile), into plastic tubs and carry them to a closet upstairs. A few months from now we will sort through those bins one more time. If they want any toys back they are free to take them back downstairs to the play area.

Very few toys ever return to the shelves, but this process allows the kids to keep toys they might want to play with in the future. It provides the added benefit of clearing the toy shelves until they decide.

Unwanted Piles of Stuff

As the minutes turn into hours the piles inevitably build. What starts with just one or two unwanted items inevitably mounts into three or four boxes worth of stuff.

Last year I stood before a pile of outgrown clothing and shoes from my boys. A box full of sweaters I thought I would wear but never did. An overflowing stack of board games and a bunch of gifts we never really wanted in the first place.

I calculate the cost of all of this stuff and remind myself not to buy too much the following year.

A Feel Good Ritual

I don’t love the act of rooting through our belongings, but I do love the feeling of removing unwanted stuff from my house. It feels so good to get rid of all that clutter and lighten the load in our home. In the process we help others who most likely need this stuff much more than we do.

I’ve repeated this tradition every year for the last ten years. As I root through our belongings I reflect on my blessings. I am grateful for all that we have and all that we can pass on to others. I’m also reminded that we don’t need much in our lives. The things that make us happy aren’t things at all.

We can keep our wallets in our pockets and purses. As we move into the season of excess we can reflect on what matters most. Spending time with the people we love doing the things we love. The other stuff doesn’t really matter.

How about you? Did you shop on Black Friday? If not what did you do?

2 thoughts on “An Alternative Way To Spend Black Friday”

  1. What a great idea! I must confess that when the kids were little I tossed out their unused toys when they weren’t around, but lately we sort through their things together. And it definitely needs doing before Christmas. We did not shop Black Friday- I hate the crowds. I also hate Christmas shopping- or truthfully shopping of every kind. I tend to procrastinate. I took the kids to visit my family since we spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family this year.

    • I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of shopping either, which definitely helps me avoid the stores. I’ve also found that the more money we have the less we need in life. It seems counterintuitive but it’s true. I don’t even have the desire to spend the money any more. What a ridiculously blessed world I live in, so that keeps me out of the stores. I love that you spent the day celebrating your family! That’s what we all need more of.


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