5 Fun Ways to Get Free Stuff on Black Friday

©. Zhukova Helen

Skip the whole bloodsport of shopping thing and plan a craft day, cookie exchange or clothing swap instead.

I know that rushing into a violent fray to get a discounted flatscreen television may be a delightful activity for some. But I also think that for a lot of people, the appeal of Black Friday shopping is more about the fear of missing out rather than the joy of fistfights over electronics and perfume sets.

And with that in mind, I've been thinking of some alternatives; things to do that are fun and pay a little homage to the spirit of Thanksgiving and the holidays, but in which you actually get something too.

These may take a little planning, but not a lot of work. For friends who cooked the day before, they can bring uneaten food and it can serve double-duty as a leftovers potluck. Wine might conceivably find its way into the mix as well. The key is in connecting with friends and and doing something more fun and sustainable than partaking in frenzied consumerism.

1. Wreath party

I'm thinking about a wreath-making day, where friends can bring branches, leaves, herbs, flowers, pinecones, seedpods, rose hips, seashells, ribbons, ornaments, what have you. The beautiful A Pair and a Spare has a tutorial on how to make the minimalist wreaths pictured above, but you could go over-the-top as well. For the base, you can make forms out of wire or branches.

2. Cookie exchange

Variety of holiday cookies

© Rostislav_Sedlacek If you like baking cookies for gifts, it's nice to package up a big variety of confections to make the gift seem more decadent. But baking ten different kinds of cookies means investing a lot of money in different ingredients and loads of time. By hosting a cookie swap, each person makes a plentiful amount of one type of cookie, brings it to the party, and everyone divvies up the goods so that all go home with a variety. Each person should make a dozen per guest and bring their own containers for bringing the bounty home.

3. Regift giving

Regifting gifts

pxhere/Public Domain I earnestly hope that if I give someone something they don't love, that they pass it along to someone who would adore it. The same can be said for things I've received that I'll never use, like a wine I won't drink or a gift card to a shop I don't frequent. Here's where a regift swap could come in handy. Everyone brings their unloved gifts from years past and guests can swap for other people's rejects that they think they have the perfect recipient for. And for a gift-giving swap like this, it doesn't have to be exclusively unloved gifts – guests could bring things like new clothes they never wore or a gift-worthy vintage treasure they don't have room for.

4. Clothing swap

Clothes on hangers

© mbrphoto One thing about the holidays is this: It's a time when you might love a new outfit, but it's also a time when you're supposed to be shopping for other people, not yourself. Oops. Which is why a clothing swap party this time of year is such a fun idea. In a story on the topic, Katherine writes, "It's one of those wonderful things that seems so simple, and yet can fill people with satisfaction, build a sense of community, reduce clutter, improve your outfits, and save a load of money." Read her tips how-to here: 6 steps to hosting a successful clothing swap.

5. Craft day

dot wrapping paper

ProFlowers/CC BY 2.0 Recycled craft supplies, cocktails, friends – otherwise known as heaven. Possibilities include making holiday cards, ornaments, wrapping paper, or garlands. Have people bring paper grocery bags to use as craft paper to decorate for wrapping or cards – craft paper looks great decorated with white pencil or metallic markers; other things to bring could include:

• Old greeting cards to be cut up
• Origami paper
• Glossy magazines
• Glue sticks or rubber cement
• Paint, pencil, crayons, markers, rubber stamps, ink
• Used ribbon, bows, string
• Fabric and lace remnants
• Doilies
• Glitter and sequins
• Buttons
• Wrapping paper ends
• Unusual packing materials
• Crumpled tissue paper
• Pinecones, seed pods, dried flowers

You get the idea – have scraps, will craft.