Imagine being in a mall parking lot, attempting to shop at the crack of dark, arriving 90 minutes before the doors open of the Best Buy to get gifts for the holidays, and you see a line wrap around the Best Buy building with people who obviously camped out after their turkey dinner.  Black Friday is a shopping experience like no other, but not for the faint of heart.

Last year my girlfriend and I braved the "crazies" to attempt to get gifts for her daughter and uncle.  The deals on the Insignia 42" Plasma television, and the Apple MacBook Pro were too good to pass up, but the alarm going off by 1:45am was disturbing.  I have braved Black Friday the last 2 years with trips to the likes of Kohls and 6th Avenue Electronics, but this was my girlfriend's first (and potentially last) experience.

The TV was the easy part - the line for computer assistance that day was a 2 hour marathon from hell!  No regrets from the shopping experience, but I remember we slept the rest of that Friday from about noon until dinner.

I am preparing for this experience again this year (sadly solo since my girlfriend has to unbelievably work on Thanksgiving).  What I've learned over the last few years is that shopping on Black Friday is not for everybody.  Should you attempt to go out and brave the sea of people out at places like WalMart, Target, Macys, Sears, K-Mart -- wherever you are going -- here are some tips to keep in the back of your mind:

1) Prep heavily before you head out

You should have a plan of what you are shopping for before you head out.  Take the time to look through all the fliers that will be in your Sunday paper.  Pinpoint what you are shopping for so you can be on a B-line toward your goodies.  Compare prices, but realize that the differences in prices are usually not that much.

2) Arrive at your destination very early

I'm not suggesting camping out (unless you are into that), but give yourself a window of 2 hrs. minimum before doors open.  Store like Target and WalMart - might need even more time.

3) Set more than one alarm for morning wake-up

We made sure last year to set the alarm clock and both our phone alarms.  After eating that Thanksgiving feast, you want to make sure that you have your back covered.  Don't be afraid to submit to the Turkey Coma, but maybe set the alarms before dinner and maybe put an alarm clock in the den for this day only.

4) Too much coffee in the morning can be very bad

Nothing worse than waiting in line, having to go to the bathroom and nowhere to turn (not that I would know)

5) Should you wake you with 1 hour before the store you are going to opens.......

.........go back to sleep - you are too late!

6) Cyber Monday

On-line shopping will help you with many things you need (not all), and the deals are usually top notch.  Be prepared for high volume on some sights, and make sure the boss is not watching you!

7) Don't get frustrated

The shopping experience on Black Friday is a once a year phenomenon, and you cannot expect to get everything you are looking for that day.  Be prepared for some moments of "Grrrrrr!", but remember that your leftovers and a long nap await after your shopping experience is done.

One last thing: do not get in my way at Best Buy this year (I will tackle you if you have what I want for my girlfriend).