Your Ultimate Black Friday Survival Guide

“I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious.” -Vince Lombardi 

Some weary consumers believe that the “Field of Battle” Vince Lombardi referred to wasn’t actually the football field, but rather the local mall on Black Friday.

The day after Thanksgiving has become a free-for-all bloodbath that tests the patience, strength and endurance of even the most skilled athlete shopper. And this phenomenon is growing bigger every year!

According to stats from Black Friday 2012, one in three Americans hit the stores and collectively spent more than $11 billion in a single day.Let’s discuss some ways to ensure that you’re victorious on the most ruthless, dangerous shopping day of the year.

1. Come up with a battle plan.

Successful Black Friday shopping requires a great deal of planning. Figure out when, where and how you are going to shop. If at all possible, plan ahead to avoid the danger zone that is the mall parking lot. Can you take public transportation or coax a family member to drop you off outside the stores? Road rage, especially around malls, is a major hazard that is best avoided on Black Friday.

2. Whittle down your shopping list.

Take your shopping list through a few drafts to make sure you’re as descriptive and specific as possible. Write down not just who you are buying for, but what you’re looking for. List out “PJs for Mom” or “tablet for Dad.”

Even better, include the price range of what you’ve budgeted for each item. These details will serve you well while you’re in the battle zone. You can also stay abreast of some of the best deals out there before they are publicized. Click here to stay up to date with Black Friday deals.

3. Dress the part.

If you’re on the prowl for some new duds, plan your shopping outfit carefully to help save time in the dressing rooms. Wear clothing and shoes that are easy to slip off and on; avoid overly fussy buttons, shoelaces and layers. Consider wearing tight clothes like leggings and a tank top so you don’t need to wait in line for a fitting room and can slip clothing on over your head in front of a mirror.

4. Pack your bag.

Equip yourself properly for a long day of shopping. Throw some sustenance (e.g., granola bars, an apple, a candy bar, a sports drink like Gatorade) in your purse or pocket or at least familiarize yourself with the location of the food court. Make sure your debit cards, credit cards, ID and cash are in their rightful places in your wallet.

Juice up your cell phone ahead of time so it doesn’t run out of battery while you’re in the heat of battle. If you’re planning to use a coupon or voucher as you shop, make sure you have it on you at all times.

5. When all else fails…

In a worst-case scenario, you’re going to need to throw a Hail Mary pass. Whip out an air horn and blast it a few times. This should clear a path straight through the crowds and toward the marked-down iPads. Or throw on your body armor and bear-crawl toward the table of discounted cashmere sweaters. Best of luck finding your size!

Photo credit: Getty Images