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Managing The Black Friday Mess

Retail’s biggest day leaves us with plenty of junk


So many of the joys in life come with immediate repercussions. But we don’t let it ruin the fun, do we? The after-dinner bloat from a good Thanksgiving meal is no reason to pass up on turkey and pie. The same is true of Black Friday. The low prices and fully stocked stores make for a shopping day well spent among family and friends. Black Friday deals and offerings have helped folks afford Christmas gifts they otherwise couldn’t get for their families. And the retail industry has come to rely on the cash and credit windfall. In fact, that is where the day gets its name: From putting retail company balance sheets “in the black.”

Of course there is a yin to the yang. We spend from Black Friday to Christmas with stuff jambing up our storage areas and kitchen tables. In our house, the kitchen island tends to be the gathering point for junk. By mid December, unwrapped and un-gifted presents are piling up. Add to that the holiday cards and the gifts we receive early, plus the everyday messes in our home, and you end up with a cluttered disaster.

And it only gets worse after the holidays. You’re left with boxes and torn wrapping paper, and these days everything is a box-within-a-box, so you have all the packing materials and product boxes. Who has room for this stuff? Did you even have room for what you already owned? Now you’ve gone and added a bunch of new stuff. That, folks, is the definition of a holiday mess.


It all starts with Black Friday. Set yourself for Friday and stay organized, and you might just have a shot at fending off the deluge of holiday clutter.


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Clear Out and Clean Up

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving has taken on a new tradition in our family. We purchase the Thursday night feast in advance, and we always have the day off work. We spend the day cleaning out our closets and our boy’s bedroom. It’s amazing the stuff that he will outgrow in a year, and I never struggle to find clothes, shoes, and hats that are beyond their final days. This year, my wife had two full hefty bags full of clothes. “I can get plenty of Christmas stuff in here,” she not-so-subtly hinted.

In addition to getting out things that don’t fit or no longer serve their purpose, we get our summer stuff into our storage shed in labelled boxes. We’re not usually so fastidious, but it’s just one day a year, and we’ve come to enjoy the tradition. Our summer stuff includes the toys and games that are no longer needed in the garage or yard, and of course shorts and tank tops or flip flops. I gladly store the lawnmower and weed whacker each season.

A year ago, we used Go Trashy, the junk removal app, to get rid of an older couch we no longer wanted. We ordered the new one on Black Friday and put it in the old one’s spot. On Christmas day we tied a bow on the new couch.


Break it Down or Shoot it

Things come in waves this time of year. The first wave starts today, Black Friday, with all the stuff you buy for you and your partner. If you know the gift is not going to be returned, then get it out of the box. Break down the box, toss the packaging that cannot be recycled, and recycle the rest of the stuff with the weekly pickup. Last year, my wife bought us a new TV. Our first new one in over a decade. She got a great deal on Black Friday, and by Cyber Monday, it was wrapped simply in a decorative holiday bag (think Hefty with snowflakes) and the box was in the back of the recycling truck.


Here’s a novel one for you. Don’t hang on to the holiday cards. Shoot ‘em instead.


We open the card, read it, pass it back and forth, and then one of us photographs the front and inside with an iPhone. We save them in a folder marked Christmas Cards on a cloud drive, and bam, no more stacks of cards and envelopes. We shoot it and then drop it in with the recycling.


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Buy Wisely

It’s the simplest idea and for some, the hardest to execute. If you don’t buy more than you need, you will have less clutter and mess to deal with. There are other ways to buy wisely too. When we’re shipping things, we don’t buy them on Black Friday. We don’t buy them in a store at all. If we’re not going to see the person we are sending it to in person, then we buy it online and have it sent right to them. Sure, there is clutter on their end, but they have a gift! And you saved on fuel by not driving to and from the store and post office.

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