People used to think of shopping as the only thing to do the day after Thanksgiving. But now that Cyber Monday has become more popular than Black Friday as the start of the holiday shopping season — what can you do if you still have the day after Thanksgiving off from work?
Although New York hosts its famous parade on Thanksgiving day, other cities hold parades the following day. Most of them are broadcast on TV so you don’t have to sit out in the cold (if that’s what the weather is like by you). If you really like parades, consider recording ones that take place in other cities — capture the footage on TiVo so you don’t have to sit through all the commercials.
By now most ice skating rinks have opened for the winter season and have their holiday season decorations up. Skating gives you the flavor of the winter holidays without having to spend what you would if you went shopping.
Similarly, most ski slopes have opened for the season by now, and if there isn’t naturally ocurring snow by now, the resorts can fabricate it. Although downhill skiing will cost you more money than other winter sports, cross-country skiing usually costs less. Either form of skiing gives you enough variety in the terrain to easily fill up a day if not longer. If you want to make more than a day out of traveling to a ski resort area, you might be able to find other winter sport-types of activities like snowmobile tours, downhill snowtubing (think: inflatable sleds) and even bobsled or toboggan runs.
This can be as simple or elaborate as you can afford — and as your local resources provide. If there’s a toboggan or bobsled run near you that offers rentals, that’s usually more fun than free-form sledding. But you don’t need to go to any dedicated facility to sled. Heck, you don’t even need to own a sled if you have plastic trays you can borrow for the purpose.
Movies and Videos
Thanksgiving weekend tends to see a lot of good films premiere, and attendance at movie theaters benefits. You don’t have to set foot outside to watch good movies this weekend — since the options for renting or watching on continue to proliferate. There’s also good-old cable television and the binge-watching craze, in which people watch entire seasons of series via online video streaming services.
If you enjoy watching sports, you can probably find your favorite teams playing over the holiday weekend. Of course, it’s far cheaper to watch on cable TV than get tickets to see any of it in person. If you’re the betting type and happen to be within reach of casinos, you might find the camaraderie of a sports book rather fun.
Hit the Library
Books aren’t the only thing at the library; you can peruse magazines, borrow movies and audio recordings, and attend lectures or classes — the full range of activities depends on the specific location, but you can find out more by heading to your nearest library’s website.
Although spring or even New Year’s Day are more common choices for doing a large-scale cleaning, there’s no reason why you have to wait until then. The proximity to the end of the year makes this Friday a good day to begin deciding what to give away or sell.
Perhaps there are local sights of interest that you haven’t been to since you’re caught up in the day-to-day grind — well, now you have a chance to check out these destinations. Tour your home town or go on a day trip somewhere interesting, either on your own or even as part of a tour group. Find them on sites like ToursByLocals, Showaround and Vayable.
Take Online Classes
You don’t have to (re-)enroll in college to take classes, let alone pay (much) tuition for them if you’re willing to participate in continuing education programs. A growing number of websites and apps offer courses on a stunning array of topics. Check out Coursera, Udacity and Lynda to see what you might be able to learn in as little as an hour or two. You might end up with a new hobby as a result.
If you haven’t tried volunteering to help the needy, it can change your life. Going to a soup kitchen following the day of your Thanksgiving feast will make you appreciate what you have and get into the spirit of gratitude that is the original intention of the holiday. If you’re already involved with a nonprofit organization, look into whether the group has anything planned on Friday.
Museum or Zoo
Although museums and zoos with free admissions seem to be fewer and further between, there are some notable exceptions — including free days at establishments that otherwise charge money at the door. If you have kids, this is a great way to entertain them when they have the day off from school. However, bear in mind that a lot of other families come up with the same idea, so museums and zoos tend to get really crowded on days like Black Friday.
Even if you didn’t host Thanksgiving dinner yourself, whoever hosted the meal might have given you leftovers to take home. Heat them up or make turkey sandwiches and enjoy.
Go for a Stroll
If weather conditions permit, you might want to go on a hike — or at least a walk — on Friday. If it’s too cold for a proper stroll, you could try to make it brief.
Update Your Resume
If you’ve been at your current job for at least a year and are beginning to feel stir crazy, there’s nothing like a day off to update your resume and online career profiles — on LinkedIn and other jobs websites — to be ready for recruiters. Black Friday is great timing to do such an update because a lot of companies step up their hiring in January.
A day off from work gives you a chance to put in a lot of quality time reading a good book — or even catching up on the periodicals you enjoy. No need to buy that book or other reading material if you have a library card or a membership in any of the growing number of “all-you-can-read” services, including Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited for books and Prime Reading for magazines.
Collect, Curate, or Scrapbook
A day off gives you the chance to organize any collections you might already have or get started on one. If you don’t collect anything yet, it’s never too late to start a collection — and it doesn’t even have to cost you money. It could be as simple as collecting images to post on Pinterest, pasting things in an offline scrapbook, or amassing physical memorabilia or antiques you find on Etsy or eBay. Let what you’re already interested in serve as the gravitational pull toward starting a collection.
Although working out usually only takes an hour or two, if you have a gym membership you might find a social outlet there. On a day off like Black Friday, the people you normally make small talk with probably have more time on their hands for activities following their workouts; seize the opportunity to get to know people better by suggesting an outing after you’re all done with exercise.
The day after Thanksgiving is a popular time to go see live matinee performances of holiday classics, like the Nutcracker Suite, A Christmas Carol, and even It’s a Wonderful Life. Larger cities have as many as 10 different holiday-themed plays, musicals and ballets playing that day — if your first choice is sold out, hopefully one of the others isn’t. Remember to check for discounted tickets on GoldStar.
Although physical stores and malls are crowded on Black Friday, a potentially more relaxed way to take it all in is simply to people watch. This is ideal if you can situate yourself in a cafe that has a good view of all people coming and going from stores. Another great vantage point for watching others might be in the vicinity of one of the larger holiday trees that are erected by neighborhood organizations or even city government (most of them did this earlier in the month).
Look at Christmas Lights
Some neighborhoods have a habit of going all out with holiday lights and the homeowners in these areas may have put up their holiday decorations already, much like what retailers and civic entities do. Go for a night-time drive through one of these neighborhoods and you beat the — well, perhaps crowds might not be an accurate way to describe the phenomenon, but nonetheless you would be engaging in this activity before many others think of it.
Whether you habitually send out holiday cards or not, the official start of the holiday shopping season is a good time to get started — before the last minute rush of gifts and cards slows down the postal mail. And with Christmas still a good month away, you have enough time to go longer-form on some of those missives. If you want to save money on paper, you could always send e-cards, although they aren’t necessarily free anymore; many now require paid subscriptions.
Reconnect with Friends
Social media, and Facebook in particular, makes it easier than ever to reconnect with people from the past — you can see who else is online when you are and chat in real time. From there you might even schedule a time to engage with them in any of the other activities mentioned in this article.
Black Friday Shopping Online
Apparently, Black Friday has come full circle as a day for shopping, at least among online retailers. They started promoting Cyber Monday a bit over a decade ago after noticing an organic trend of increased online spending on the day after Thanksgiving.
The result of these promotions ultimately made Cyber Monday so popular that it overwhelmed the technology and logistical operations that have made e-commerce successful. To prevent that from recurring, retailers have recalibrated their marketing messages to encourage people to begin holiday shopping over a broader period of time.
Amazon, for instance, declared this to be “Black Friday deals week” in a promotional email that went out this morning — and the online retailer was one of the leaders in marketing the Cyber Monday concept. Best Buy, on the other hand, has been plugging holiday shopping deals since the beginning of the month.
Wherever you prefer to shop, you don’t have to wait until Monday to find good deals online. And if the mood to shop strikes you on Black Friday, go for it. You’ll find abundant choices to keep you busy comparing prices.
Readers, do you intend to shop online this Friday or do something else? What do you have planned for the holiday weekend?