dad and daughter decorating christmas tree

Can’t Stand Shopping Crowds? Alternative Black-Friday Activities

Recipe for a nightmare: entering a hectic shopping mall with a child who is hypersensitive to stimulation or prone to wandering. Even purely physical disabilities can spell trouble when they make it difficult for a child to keep up, or to keep track of you. Or when someone uses a wheelchair, walker, cane, service dog, or anything else that passersby could trip over where passing space is limited.

Low Prices Yes, Large Crowds No

According to, “Black Friday” got its name from Philadelphia police officers who used “black” in its most negative sense, referring to chaos descending on the city with the start of holiday shopping season. Most people with disabilities—or even introverted personalities—would agree that the day is overwhelming, overcrowded, over-frustrating, and definitely not fun to be actively involved in.

If you vote with the “shopping crowds are no fun” demographic, modern shopping apps and websites are something to be thankful for. No longer is it necessary to choose between your peace of mind and the year’s best deals: just open a screen to browse, select, pay, and check out from the quiet of your home.

Here’s why some of our own BridgingApps team opt for the digital-shopping route:

  • Amy Barry, Digital Marketing Lead: With the ease of online shopping, I prefer to avoid the Black Friday crowds and shop from the comfort of my couch. Many online retailers offer free or low-cost shipping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on in-person deals.
  • Amy Fuchs, Program Manager: After years of working in retail through high school and college, the shopping experience lost its glitter for me. Online shopping is how I go—sometimes at midnight to get the good deals.

You can probably set your favorite shopping app(s) to alert you to specific deals, including free delivery. See also “How to Save With Digital Coupons” from

couple decorating christmas tree

I’d Rather Not Be Shopping

If you’d prefer to forgo Black Friday shopping altogether—if you find it too commercial and materialistic, don’t have the budget for it, or just see shopping as a necessary evil rather than an enjoyable activity—there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s your post-Thanksgiving day off, so invest it in something you enjoy.

  • Sleep in and rest up for December.
  • Dig out those neglected books from their corners, and share a “reading day” with your children. (Substitute board games, jigsaw puzzles, digital games, musical instruments, videos, etc., if you prefer.)
  • Do a “Thanksgiving recap” by counting your blessings as a family. Write everyone’s favorite blessings on a jumbo-size sheet of paper, in different-colored markers or crayons; then decorate it with stickers and sketches. Hang up the resulting poster as a holiday decoration, or photograph it for a seasonal screen saver.
  • Trim the tree or hang up the lights.
  • Make holiday ornaments or homemade gifts.
  • Fill up your bird feeders and see who drops in for a snack.
  • Clean out your closets and fill a few boxes with things to donate to holiday charity drives.
  • Invite your best friend over for coffee and Thanksgiving leftovers. Or call some of your children’s friends’ parents, and volunteer to host a play date at your house while the other parents shop. (All the better if someone—who actually enjoys the mall—volunteers in turn to pick up the things on your holiday shopping list.)
  • Visit the museum, zoo, or park while the crowds are busy elsewhere.
  • Make a list of things that will keep the holidays personally meaningful, and schedule them in your calendar or planner. (Good practice for working on your New Year’s resolutions next month!)

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