Happy Thanksgiving everybody! We all have a lot to be thankful for. Personally, as I look at healthy family and friends around me, I realize I am truly blessed. Now, I realize Thanksgiving-related articles, recipe ideas, home décor suggestions and such are going to be found in abundance this week, so I thought I’d look ahead just a smidge to the next big date on the books – Black Friday.

Nicknamed such because it became known to be the first date in a Retailer’s calendar year when their books were “in the black”, it has since evolved from a simple, tasteful shopping day to what appears to be a full body contact sport, complete with seasoned shoppers armed with first aid kids and pepper spray lest someone cut ahead of them in line. Combine that with the fact that many stores are opening their doors to Black Friday shoppers at 12:01A on Friday (as compared to the far more reasonable, say, 4:00am of years past) and I’m honestly starting to freak out.

If I may, I’d like to suggest an alternative Black Friday routine that will not only keep your sanity and sleep patterns intact, but your wallets and bank accounts in fabulous shape as well.

First stop: your local Thrift stores! Hit the big chains of course, many Goodwill stores have fantastic Black Friday deals and bargains waiting for their shoppers. Personally, my past finds include Jimmy Choo boots for $2, Hermes scarves for $5, New York Times Bestsellers for $1 and Baccarat crystal for $10. Enough said. When you’re done, don’t forget the stop by your local Mom and Pop Thrift stores, often decked out to the nines and stuffed with incredible bargains on brand names as well. I’ve found breathtaking antique jewelry sets at some of these local stores, picture frames, artwork, you name it, all at incredibly low prices.

Next stop: your local independent book stores! Everybody loves receiving books as gifts, and there are few things more therapeutic than the fantastic fun of poking around a book store, especially during the rush of the holidays. The big bookstore chains will be nuthouses – instead, hit the marvelous, local booksellers for fantastic sales, and if you’re lucky, a small attached café where you can recharge your batteries with a fabulous cup of caffeine.

Last stop: your computer keyboard. In the last ten years, online sales shopping has skyrocketed, and it’s not hard to see why. You can shop anytime, it’s far easier to find a parking space in your own driveway compared to the local rabid stunt drivers taking over the mall parking lots, and depending on the gift list you’re trying to accommodate, with a few clicks of a mouse, most (if not all) can be handled online in minutes. What’s not to love? Ebay, Amazon and hundreds of other reputable websites stand at the ready to fulfill your every gift whim, from books, tapes, CD’s, DVD’s and tens of thousands of other gift items. Best bets are the smaller, lighter (a.k.a. cheaper to ship) items that will make it to your home with little difficulty.

This Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend, may your family and friends be healthy and fabulous, your turkeys be tender, your pumpkin pies be perfect, and your local thrift stores a holiday goldmine. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Kristen Hagopian is an Author, Columnist, Motivational Speaker and Radio Talk Show Host with WFYL 1180AM in Greater Philadelphia. “The Brilliant Frugal Living Show” airs to a listening audience of 3 Million people Tuesdays and Saturdays at 11:00A (Eastern), with fabulous strategies for slashing spending and keeping more money in the bank. She lives fabulously & frugally just outside Philadelphia with her husband and two kids. Her book is available at her website: