10 Healthier Ways to Spend Black Friday

First thing?s first. Let me wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to MDA?s American readers. I hope you?re enjoying the day and have much to be grateful for this year, including good Primal health! As for myself, I?m thankful for my wonderful family and supportive friends and colleagues. Likewise, I?m grateful for this amazing community – all of the engagement, encouragement, and challenge you all have offered me over the years. As much now as in the beginning, Mark?s Daily Apple is an evolving project. I?ve steered the site – and the books, events, and resources that have stemmed from it – with the direction of reader interests. Even the Primal Blueprint philosophy itself has unfolded in unexpected ways for me – ways inspired by the stories and questions you have brought to our collective table. Thank you, everyone, and please continue to offer your feedback.

From a personal point of view, I like beginning the holiday season with a time for thankfulness. The end of the year calls us to take stock, and it?s illuminating to do it in a spirit of gratitude.

The flip side to this holiday introspection, however, is the commercial bustle – for all its luster and lunacy. No doubt, most of us have seen or heard the ads for weeks now. The flurry even spurs its own thread of media stories, including those covering the protests this month around big box stores that will open at midnight or even 9:00 pm on Thanksgiving. Apparently, the point of the day is increasingly becoming a mere precursor to the shopping that so many people consider the main event. In addition to the shameless ?creep? of shopping hours, one story seemed to take the madness to a new level. A woman in California has been camping out in front of a Best Buy for more than a week now, waiting to be the first in line when the doors open for the Black Friday sale. A younger man joined her in line earlier in the week, explaining to reporters, ?I?ve got nothing else better to do.? Has it seriously come to this?

I just can?t resist – as I?m sure many of you can?t either. How many ?better? things are there to do with a week of your life? (Truth be told, it could be a whole blog in itself.) For the purpose of today, let?s just talk about Black Friday. If you bristle against the commercial frenzy, what could a ?Primal Friday? look like instead? Just a few modest suggestions…

  1. Sleep in. Seriously. You know you want to. Imagine how much better you?ll feel than the folks who dragged themselves out of bed at 4:00 am.
  2. Volunteer your time and resources. Research demonstrates a physiological benefit to our altruistic ventures (e.g. lower stress, better sleep, enhanced immune function, and reduced pain). The key is to feel genuinely emotionally invested in our volunteer endeavors. (Actually interacting with other people increases benefits as well.) Deliver charitable contributions to a local organization or volunteer to help distribute them to those in need. Bring groceries and good old fashioned funds to a local food shelf. Donate clothes and housewares to nonprofit stores that benefit area organizations. Volunteer for the day at a homeless shelter, community program, or animal rescue organization. Adopt a family for the holiday season and shop for them instead.
  3. Devote the day to making homemade cards and gifts. If you have off work, put on a totally different hat and indulge your innate creativity. Expand yourself *and* do something a loved one will appreciate. Send humorous postcards to friends. Knit or carve a gift for someone special. Make wreaths or decorative winter planters for neighbors. Whip up some Primal jerky, gorp, tapenade, sauces, or infused vodka for friends.
  4. Take in a cultural event. Skip the throngs at the mall and head for the concert hall, local theater, or community center. Expand your horizons, and enjoy a communal atmosphere – without the stampede.
  5. Make a day for reminiscing and record the occasion for future enjoyment. Gather around to watch old family movies or slide shows on the computer. Tell your favorite stories of past holidays. Get a family photo taken or videotape some play time in the backyard. It will be a more meaningful keepsake for this year?s holiday season that whatever you could?ve bought.
  6. Invite the neighbors for a casual open house. Sure, many of them will be chasing sales in the wee hours of the morning. No matter. Throw together an informal, ?post-sale? brunch or a cocktail hour spread. They?ll appreciate the hospitality – and the return to a saner way of celebrating the holiday weekend.
  7. Go in search of an exercise adventure. Hitting the gym is admirable. You definitely won?t be alone, but why not do something different? Think more play. How about a little intermittent euphoria? Try your hand at parkour. Catch some waves. Take a polar dip (with a buddy safe on shore, please). Go trail running. Grab some family and friends for a wild game of rugby or Ultimate. You know how good activity is for that Grok body of yours. Treat it to some thrills as well.
  8. Seek out the light-hearted. Hit a comedy club, or curl up with some loved ones and your favorite funny movies. Research shows that laughter reduces stress (unlike lines at the mall), boosts our immune function, relaxes our muscles, enhances circulation, relieves tensions, and decreases pain. Devote an entire day to humor? How old are we? Exactly.
  9. While others are hitting overrun food courts, make truly healthy meals that will keep you happily fed for a couple weeks. Mine the leftovers and fill your freezer. Make a steaming pot of turkey soup, extra containers of bone broth, a pan of spaghetti squash tetrazzini, a spicy Turkey stew, or whatever else makes good use of Thanksgiving?s delectable residuals. Making everything the next day ensures the ingredients will still be fresh. (Face it – three days from now the turkey carcass won?t inspire as much enthusiasm). You?ll appreciate having the meals on hand for hearty lunches or quick dinners.
  10. Go on an outdoor pilgrimage. Climb a certain mountain in your area. Hit a challenging trail. Walk the full distance of a local urban trail. Be in the moment, in that place. Allow the experience to dismiss all the buzz and distractions. Use the time to center yourself on what matters to you this holiday season. Make it the beginning of an annual tradition.

Finally, drink up every bit of Thanksgiving leisure. I?m a sucker for A Christmas Story movie (wrong holiday, but still), and while I love the humor (Lifebuoy, anyone?), one of my favorite parts is the end scene in which the parents sit together, quietly enjoying the tree while the kids fall asleep and the snow falls outside. Sometimes the best part of a holiday is the quiet hours after the agenda?s been satisfied and the dishes are washed. It?s somehow the part I always enjoy the most. It?s when people are most unscheduled and unfettered. The best conversations unfold. The most intimate memories are made. Why rush it, let alone skip it altogether? We rush through the holidays and miss so much in our focus on checklists and pure logistics. The best of life so often happens in the lulls, the interludes, the end of a great evening. Don?t miss it.

Thanks for stopping by today, everybody. Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy the holiday weekend!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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62 thoughts on “10 Healthier Ways to Spend Black Friday”

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  1. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Personally I will be going to black friday shopping, great deals on clothing but I don’t come early and wait in line like all the nut cases. What could be more primal? I will be WALKING around the huge mall and HUNTING for deals.

  2. Last year my husband and I got our gym memberships and started on our getting healthy journey 🙂

  3. I’m so thankful for this website. It definitely is not a turkey. I do stuff myself with it’s knowledge however…then sleep like a baby!

  4. Black Friday has now made its way to Canada (our Thanksgiving is in October, so there’s no holiday connection, and our Black Friday equivalent has traditionally been Boxing Day, Dec 26). Apparently, too many of us have been going over the border to your side for Black Friday deals and our retailers don’t want to miss out, so now we have huge Black Friday sales as well. It’s weird.
    My family pretty much stopped giving Christmas gifts years ago–kids get presents, but I might buy my siblings a book, knit them something, make a donation in their name, or send a box of homemade goodies. It really takes the pressure off.

    1. As a Brit I didn’t realise that Black Friday was an American holiday sale, I just thought it was a made-up sale day on Amazon!!

      The UK equivalent would be the Boxing Day sales (like Canada) but here we also have the ‘Boxing Day meet’ which is the best-known day of the hunting season. I know which one I’d rather do!

      Happy hunting to Grok’s everywhere.

      1. Apologies for the rogue apostrophe in my previous comment (oh the shame)

  5. Happy Thanksgiving to all….we’ll be watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles again this holiday. Steve Martin and John Candy were 2 WILD AND CRAZY GUYS!

  6. We always have had a primal Thanksgiving, long before i knew about primal!–we take our very elderly dogs, our very elderly cat, pack up our dinner (duck and veggies), bring champagne and candles, and have an outdoor picnic… in the snow. We live in Tahoe, and there’s a frisbee golf park under the snowy mountains. Friday will be spent walking in the forest in the snow. I love this time of year!

  7. …And let’s not forget the Gratitude, the Thanksgiving.

    Gratitude is the greatest experience that one can have – not to anybody in particular – simple gratitude for this whole existence. These birds, these beautiful trees, this whole existence is so beautiful that not to feel gratitude about it is to remain blind, ignorant, unaware.

    Gratitude is the only prayer. All other prayers are just man-made. Gratitude is not a word, it is a deep feeling in the very center of your spirit.

    Gratitude is a totally different phenomenon – not in the dictionaries. In the dictionaries gratefulness, thankfulness, gratitude – all are put into the same category. Existence is not according to our dictionaries. Gratitude has no outward object, nor inward object. Gratitude is almost like a fragrance arising out of a flower. It is an experience not directed to anybody. Just as fragrance arises out of a flower and goes on, not knowing where, unaddressed; so, in the same way – unaddressed – arises gratitude.

    When you reach to your spirit, where you are completely in the mood of the spring, and the flowers are showering on you, you suddenly feel a gratitude not directed to anybody, just like a fragrance arising out of you, just as incense brings ripples of smoke and fragrance, moving towards the unknown sky and disappearing.

    If that gratitude is felt, everything is right.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

  8. I will be spending Black Friday with family at the CU vs. Utah football game here in Boulder. Good eats, no leftover turkey tho. I always pack my own primal meal. Not much hope for the game, but a beautiful day (50 degrees F), noon sunshine for Vitamin D, and family fun to be thankful for.

  9. I have long resented the fact that Thanksgiving has been almost obliterated by Christmas commercialism that comes earlier and earlier every year. My spouse and I totally opt out. We don’t do Black Friday and we avoid the malls. We also don’t do gift exchanges (which involves shopping, which we both hate). Instead we focus on family, friends, and good food.

    Seriously, there are more important things in life than camping in front of a store for 3 days in order to buy a lot of worthless junk. Instead, try volunteering at a nursing home or a children’s hospital or a shelter for the homeless. Your reward will be an attitude adjustment.

  10. I’m getting ready to spend the afternoon deadlifting and plowing through meat!

  11. I have to work. I’m a federal employee on TDY 500+ miles from home. May as well be at work and far away from the malls.

  12. “Adopt a family for the holiday season and shop for them instead.”

    Don’t like this suggestion, though-how about saving your money instead of consuming just to consume? And let’s stop encouraging poor people to have kids that other people will provide for. This country has enough parasites.

    1. Being poor does not make you a parasite. When shopping for a family like this I think people tend to help them with the necessities and maybe a couple of fun items. There is nothing wrong with helping others and it does not necessarily have to feed consumerism.

      1. “Being poor does not make you a parasite.”

        When others provide for you, yes it does. Food stamps, unemployment, etc etc…

        1. Lynna,
          Are you a Scrooge if you object to an armed thief stealing your purse while you are out do-gooding? Why does it make a difference when the thief wears a badge?

    2. One of my friends does this every year. This year, the family they are buying for…they are poor because dad was away, serving his country overseas. So, perhaps you should educate yourself before calling someone a ‘parasite’.

      What greater calling do we have other than to care for one another?

      1. I don’t consider someone who’s drawing public salary to go slaughter civilians in foreign lands above the term.

      2. So what about the people “serving their country” that your friends charity case is trying to kill? Or is it only Americans that “serve their country” valiantly? Is it only a great calling if you are an American? You do know Afghanis and Iraqis and Syrians or whoever it is that your friend’s charity case is trying to kill are people also, right?
        When I see one person on his own property fighting against someone else on his property, guess who is likely the good guy; the one “serving his country”.
        Open your eyes. Your friend’s charity case is not serving his country, he’s serving the agenda of politicians.

    3. Remember to differentiate between stolen loot funnelled to particular voting blocs and peaceful consensual commerce.

  13. I don’t do holidays like this can’t stand shopping for much of anything. I don’t like to spend all of the money I don’t have on stuff I can live without. Nor do I like it when family and friends buy me things they can’t afford. I like using these days to spend with family and friends having fun and catching up. Tag football in the park and the rainy day bbq I had a few days ago sounds a lot better than sitting on asphalt, sucking in car fumes, and waiting for some door to open to buy a hunk of whatever. Just saying

    1. I hear ya–I don’t do holidays either. Did you know Thanksgiving wasn’t an official holiday until the 1930’s? Presidents had been petitioned up until then, and Congress got into the act, solidifying the date to the last Thursday of November–up to that point, it had bounced around anywhere from October to December.

      Abe Lincoln finalized the date and made it an official holiday.


      I’d like to be able to blame Congress for Black Friday! 🙂

  14. Hubby and I don’t do Black Friday, either. We do White Friday. We’re going snowboarding!

  15. Love all of these ideas! I live in England now, and we enjoyed a dinner with some other American families, and I am SO glad that I am far far away from all the Black Friday BS.

  16. On the volunteering front: Give blood. It only lasts for a few days so hospitals always have shortages after holidays. Plus your blood is so healthy from being primal!

    1. Absolutely – Great idea! Not sure if you can in the US but here in AUS we can donate Plasma & Platelets and the benefit is you can do it every 2 to 4 weeks.

      I try to give as often as I can – it’s the one charitable donation you can make that doesn’t cost you money and is constantly replenished.

      1. Yes I do platelets about once a month. It’s a great time to pop in a movie and relax.

  17. I have the day off on Black Friday, so I am taking the opportunity to do something I’ve never done before: go bow hunting for deer with a friend of mine. I just plan to observe, but he’s always talked about his hunting adventures, and he’s a true outdoorsman. One way or another, an animal has to die if I’m going to have meat on my table. You don’t get any closer to the source than this.

  18. No Thanksgiving here in Denmark. No shopping spree either, I get all my food delivered at my door by a very handy delivery service. All organic, meat grass fed, etc. Don’t plan to change my non “shopping at the mall” habits, I see no need to go to malls.

    1. Our malls here in my area are dying off, so they’re using this time to resurrect some sort of need to shop there.

      I’m thinking for Christmas, I might send my UPS man to Tahiti or something, since he faithfully delivers my Amazon food stuff regularly.

      Malls–who really needs them? UPS brings everything to your door!

  19. My husband and I chose the ‘sleep in’ option. Black Friday seems to bring out the worst in people, and most of the gifts I give this year will be homemade or bought online. Sleeping in after a long day of hosting yesterday was glorious, and even better followed by a breakfast of eggs, leftover turkey, and delicious primal gravy (which we made with a combination of a stock reduction, pan drippings, wine, and puréed carmelized veggies. It was devine!)

  20. Didn’t sleep in. Woke up at my usual everyday time of 4:30 – drat.

    Going to a local wine store and then the local brewpub for lunch and then home.

  21. Nice article! I tried to sleep in but body clock says get up! Plans for today are dogwalking, taking kids to playground (so I can get some pullups & pushups in too) and getting our turkey bone broth on!

  22. Even though I just moved to the States I still don’t understand the frenzy of Black Friday. I went to a nice thanksgiving dinner (not primal, though, since I feel bad whenever I am invited to eat somewhere else) and today I am going to my school’s football game. Though that might be more depressing!

    1. I’ve lived in the States all my life and don’t understand the frenzy of Black Friday. Commercialism at its worst, greed on both sides of the counter, appalling materialism, etc. Makes you wonder what we humans have become when “stuff” becomes so all-important.

  23. Or shop small and local and support your community. The locally owned businesses keep more tax dollars in your state. Small businesses provide better jobs, give more to charities and keep your town unique. Not all food is created equal and the same goes for shopping. And yes, I am a store owner and so all these anti-shopping posts make me a little sad.

  24. Re: #5, what a great new tradition: http://nationaldayoflistening.org/

    We do a goofy movie post-Thanksgiving meal. (It began when we found ourselves surrounded by teens who’d never seen Spinal Tap.) This year is was Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (which I had never seen). No matter what the movie is, it always turns out to feel perfectly appropriate to the holiday and the season…

  25. Skipping the shopping nightmare this year. Went on a family vacation. Plenty of walkin. Packed our food to stay Primal. Zip lining adventure yesterday, roller coasters today. Got a turkey leg yesterday just so the kids could say they had turkey of Thanksgiving [;-P]. Just working on gearing down and relaxing (PD job keeps me on alert more than I’d like).
    Grok on!

  26. There are some worthwhile deals out there. Be creative and get some things that suit your primal lifestyle!
    I’m checking out a local meat shop, a bracelet at a local jewelry store designed by the jeweler using natural beads and silver, some stamped concrete from a local landscaper so I can set a up a little container garden on my patio, I MIGHT hit the department store for a new stainless steal pan (half price) as I am eliminating my flaking nonstick pans….

  27. I have NEVER done Black Friday and I despise shopping during the holiday season at all, because the crazy never lets up completely. I feel like if people want to afford TVs and that kind of thing then they need to save up ahead of time and be wiser with their money. I am no Dave Ramsey and my debt would make Baby Jesus cry, but most of it is from a lack of income; less than half of it’s from a credit card (and I didn’t even run all of *that* up). I understood the concept of saving up for something looong ago.

    The really sad part about insta-buying everything with a credit card is *that* you are always hunting for the cheapest price; if you saved up instead, and just bought the item when you had enough, you could buy it at any time of the year–and these stores wouldn’t *have* to have Black Friday sales just to get *into* the black for the year, which is where the term comes from.

    I’ve observed, too, that people who search for the cheapest price will value that above all other attributes of the product or service. They have no concept of quality or that, for instance, a pound of grass-fed beef is not the same thing as a pound of corn-finished beef in terms of long-term value. They’re not frugal. They’re cheap. And it catches up with them in a big way. It also wrecks our economy in the long run: witness Wal-Mart’s effects in that area.

  28. I spent the day at the local art museum, with lunch and a walk around the sculpture park, and a very minimal amount of shopping at the museum store. Not because it was Black Friday, but because part of the proceeds benefit the museum. It was relaxing and exciting both, with good crowd vibe but not overcrowded bad tempers.

    To each her own, and I hope everyone does what makes them happy. That said, I cannot understand why so many people do things that make them unhappy, such as crazy shopping and overextending for holiday activities. We don’t HAVE TO participate in the madness! We are adults with agency over our own lives, and we get to say Yes or No according to our needs, wants, and whims.

  29. Kinda late, but on Black Friday, I went horseback riding and hiked a mountain with a few friends. So much better in the smoky mountains than at the local mall!

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  31. I will be doing #3 on the list. Sewing and crocheting as many gifties as possible.