After you're done stuffing yourself on Thanksgiving, why not walk off the calories with a little retail therapy? That's exactly what Mae Hicks Jones of Elgin and about 20 of her family members plan on doing.
"It's about just everybody getting together," Jones said. "The shopping is extra."
Select stores at many suburban malls will be open on Thanksgiving -- a day also dubbed Gray Thursday or Black Thursday -- to help you get a jump-start on your holiday shopping.
They include the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee and Carpentersville, Algonquin Commons, Geneva Commons, Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, Randhurst Village in Mount Prospect, Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora, Yorktown Center in Lombard, The Quad St. Charles and Westfield Fox Valley Mall in Aurora.
There are also Thanksgiving deals to be had at local big-box stores, including Walmart, Target, Kohl's, Toys R Us, Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, Meijer and Menards.
"We're usually up Thursday night anyway," Jones said, adding that her family's destination will be Randall Road, home to multiple big-box stores between Algonquin and Batavia. "All of the action is at Walmart and Target and Meijer and Menards."
Not everyone embraces shopping on Thanksgiving.
A Facebook movement called "Boycott Shopping on Thanksgiving Day" aims to keep retailers from opening on the holiday so employees can spend it with their families and not at work.
"Put yourself in retail employees' shoes. Don't shop on Thanksgiving Day," a statement on the main page reads. As of Wednesday, the campaign had more than 5,400 "likes."
Jones, who calls herself a "professional shopper," and her daughter, Brittney Walker, 27, also of Elgin, have been hitting
Black Friday sales with 20 or so family members for 15 years.
This year marks the first time they will brave the Thanksgiving sales and stay out to capitalize on Black Friday deals.
Once they're done shopping, they'll meet at Walker's house for a "recovery breakfast."
"It's pretty much like a marathon of shopping," Walker said.
The family has perfected the art of holiday shopping over the years and they've got it down to a science. "Everything that we wanted to get, we got it," Jones said.
Tips for you
Here are their 10 dos and don'ts for Thanksgiving shopping and beyond.
• Do eat light on Thanksgiving. There's nothing worse than eating too much, only to find yourself needing a nap once you get to the stores. "Once people eat they get tired and they don't have the stamina," Jones explained.
• There's strength in numbers, so do organize a team so you can deploy its members to separate stores to score the best deals. Work out a job for everyone beforehand. "Your team has to be strong, it has to be fierce," Walker said. "There's one last item left, you've got to be able to go for it and take no prisoners."
• Do strategize and work out a battle plan in advance with your team. What stores are open when and where is everyone going? Who needs what? Who is best at standing in line? What are the stores' policies? What county charges the lowest sales tax? These are things you need to know before you go out the door, Jones said.
• Don't bring babies or little children. You'll be standing in line for long periods of time -- possibly in the cold -- and around large crowds. Kids will get hungry, become irritable and will be up way past their bedtime. They'll need food and bathroom breaks. "Obviously, it's not fair to them and it gets in the way of your game plan," said Walker, whose 2-year-old son will remain home with her husband.
• Do stay at home if you're under the weather, because a team is only as strong as its weakest link. "I'll be very concerned about a person if they're not feeling well, but then I'll be like, 'Why did you come?' " Jones said. "You know we're on a mission."
• Do use your smartphone or other mobile device. You'll also want to text deals to other members of your team and see what everyone needs. You'll also want to track purchases and review the Black Friday ads. Several apps will help you save big bucks. Jones swears by "Black Friday App Pics" and "Mobile Tag," while Walker prefers "Black Friday Coupons Shopular."
• Do wear warm, comfortable clothes and shoes, because it's going to be a long night. Jones favors workout clothes with sweat-wicking abilities.
• Do use common sense. Don't pull out any cash, walk to and from parking lots alone or leave your purse unattended. Be sure to also lock your doors and to keep a blanket you can use to hide the merchandise in your car.
• Do have a good attitude. Leave "Debbie Downer" and "Bad Attitude Bob" at home. "The crowd is there, so if somebody bumps you and they don't say, 'Excuse me,' " just brush it off and move on, because that's not the time," Jones said. "Bring your A game and bring your A team."
• Don't forget it's the season of giving. While you're getting great deals, buy an extra toy to give to a charitable organization for less fortunate children. If Jones sees someone she can tell is buying a gift for someone else, she'll offer to pay for it.
"When you see people trying to do something for someone else, you try to help them," Jones said, adding that she's not buying anything for herself this holiday season. "I don't need anything."