How to survive the black friday sales

There’s no doubt that Black Friday is the day when you have to put on your savvy shopper hat and hunt for the best deals around the city. There is also no better time to treat yourself with those pair of designer boots or the sequin dress you just couldn’t splurge on before.

The annual sales event, which officially begins the Friday following the American Thanksgiving Day, is a phenomenal one. It used to be that Canadians had to have across the border sales envy, but, luckily, the unofficial sales date and its festivities have crossed the border and expanded to the Canadian market.

Whether you are after a new outfit for that Christmas party at the office or looking for last minute bargain holiday gifts, chances of getting a good deal are everywhere. To help you get through the chaos and take advantage of the great prices, we’ve prepared a few strategies here that will make your shopping more enjoyable and productive.

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Make a list

Get inspired by browsing online or brick and mortar stores and write down a list of possible gifts (including ones you want for yourself!). You can also make a list of the people you want to give gifts to along with their hobbies or interests. You can never go wrong with classic gift choices, which will probably be on sale, like candles, silk eye masks, coffee table ornaments, or boxes of chocolates.

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Set a budget

Set a realistic budget. With sales ads everywhere, it can be very easy to get carried away if you don’t set your limits. A strict plan will help you fight the urge to buy something just because it’s on sale. Be prepared. Think of it as a mission — no distractions!

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Rise Early

Keep in mind that this isn’t just a single day event. Many retail and online stores extend their sale dates. You can take a breather here and there, or you can start early and track or compare prices between stores. Amazon’s already started its Black Friday deals and Indigo’s announced their pre-Black Friday sales.

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Go Online

If you can’t take the day off on the illustrious Friday, don’t worry — retailers often offer the same discounts online. Shopping online would actually let you avoid the inevitable in-store shopping madness. Join the pre-6am traffic of online sales and shop when you want, where you want!

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Be social

Get social and share and read others’ tips on the best deals. People are surprisingly nice and share locations and how-tos for deals you’d otherwise miss out on. Also, check your gram, Facebook, and Twitter often for by-the-hour deals and special offers. Be kind and share the good info with your friend!

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Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

When Valentine’s Day inevitably comes around every February, there are two types of people in relationships: those who inexplicably know the perfect gift and those who scroll through online gift guides with a fervour that grows increasingly panicked as the deadline looms.

I should probably point out at this moment that Valentine’s Day is not meant to be a stressful holiday. It should be about the time you spend with your loved ones: whether it’s with a romantic partner, friends, family or just yourself. Even if you are looking at the holiday from a romantic perspective, there are lots of things you can do that don’t involve buying a gift, such as making a meal, planning a small trip or organizing an activity to do within the city.

That all being said, Valentine’s Day is a day with heavy commercial implications, so if you are one of those people who just have no idea what to get your significant other, allow me to provide some ideas.

FOR HER

Fragrance

Fragrance is such an individual thing that it can be difficult to give as a gift, especially if you have no indication about what kind of scent she usually likes. If there is such an indication, definitely use that for inspiration. If you don’t have that, use your own knowledge of her to determine what she would like, because I assume/hope if you’re buying fragrance for this person, you know them pretty well. If you’re still stumped, I’ll make a recommendation: if your girl is the type of likes right, floral scents, Arlésienne by L’Occitance En Provence is definitely a safe bet. It’s got rose, violet, and saffron notes, so you know it’ll be a crowd pleaser.

Lovefresh Body Lotions

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You straight up can’t go wrong with one of these. Body lotions and scrubs from any brand would be good, but Lovefresh is a personal favourite and I’ll tell you why: the products are high-quality, luxurious and made in Canada. The scents are all so nice that I’ve had a hard time picking a favourite in the past, so any option is a relatively safe option. Anyway, who doesn’t love having ridiculously soft skin? Lovefresh products are available through their website and in select stores across Canada.

A Boudoir-Approved Robe

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The traditional route for Valentine’s Day always seems to be lingerie. While that’s not a bad thing, I would like to put forward an alternative idea: a nice robe or even some luxurious sleepwear. It still brings the feeling of romance without having to figure out what your lady’s bust size is. Speaking from the female point of view, I’ve always enjoyed having one of these around to throw on in my particularly high-drama at home moments. Might I recommend this Valentine’s-themed robe from For Love and Lemons? Very cute, very romantic and a little sexy.

Jewellery

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Just saying jewellery is vague, I know. If the person you’re buying for seems to favour a certain kind (i.e. if she wears a ton of rings or seems to like a good necklace) then it’s a good idea to draw inspiration from what she already has. Jewellery is so versatile and so easily personalized, and that’s actually more helpful than overwhelming. If you go to a store like Victoire, which sells products by Canadian designers, you can easily find jewellery that will reflect her personality, whether she’s more classic and romantic or a bit more quirky and humorous.

Magazine

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If you don’t want to go the way of a book, then a magazine is a great alternative. There are so many wonderful quarterly and periodical magazines being published with compelling articles, fascinating interviews, and gorgeous design. Look for magazines that double as coffee table books such as Kinfolk or The Gentlewoman. You can find some great ones at Chapters, or at independent magazine shops around town, such as Type Books on Queen St. W.

FOR HIM

Fragrance

As I said in the “For Her” section, fragrance is so specific to the person who wears it that it can be a difficult buy. The best thing to do is to work with a scent he already uses. If he has a favourite cologne, see if there’s a corresponding shave balm or lotion. If he doesn’t have one, try to find one that would fit with his overall self. If you’re still a bit stumped, I can recommend the L’Homme Cologne Cédrat by L’Occitane en Provence. The scent is super masculine and fresh, probably the smell of a guy who vacations in the French Riviera and speaks multiple languages.

Cufflinks

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Cufflinks are a pretty traditional gift for men, and there’s a reason for that. For so long, men were held under pretty strict rules of dress and in many workplaces, still are. Accessories such as ties, socks, and cufflinks are the easiest way to show some creativity and individuality while wearing a suit. If your man is a traditional guy, a pair like these classic ones from ASOS is a great and affordable option. If his style is a little more quirky, these Paul Smith cufflinks will be perfect.

Watch

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Another classic accessory, the watch. Especially good if you’ve noticed that he 1) doesn’t wear one 2) has one that needs replacing or 3) has the same sports watch he wore in high school. While it would definitely be nice to get everyone a Rolex, there are other beautifully designed watches that are more affordable. Daniel Wellington watches are hugely popular and have a minimalist design, perfect for any guy who just needs to know what time it is but also wants to look good.

Coffee-table book

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The way of the magazine could definitely apply to the guy, no problem, but there are also some gorgeous coffee-table books circulating the stores that could serve as sources of inspiration and would also just look really impressive sitting on that coffee table. May I recommend: Icons of Men’s Style by Josh Sims.

Wallet

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The wallet can go by the same rules as the watch on whether it would be a good gift. If he’s still using a velcro wallet à la Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid Love then it may be time to not-so-subtly suggest he use a new one. If you’re looking for suggestions, the brand Matt + Nat has some great minimalist wallets that are pretty cost effective, and are also made with vegan leather.