Black Friday is not a casual shopping day, but rather it is the closet thing civilians will ever get to tasting real combat. As such, one should treat it like a military mission, with objectives, casualties and above all, strategies.

For all the brave souls who are enticed by great "deals" like 5% off a plasma screen, study and memorize these basic survival tips. Treat each Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy as a Guadalcanal, Normandy and Iwo Jima and you should make it back home alive to watch that $5 Blu-Ray of 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' you found.

  • 1

    Find Parking

    As you pull into the snarled, clogged Dante's Inferno that is your local mega-mall, you’ll quickly notice the lack of parking. Don’t panic and don’t get irritated. Remember, most car accidents happen inside parking lots. Park in "No Man's Land" (aka, the Burger King across the freeway) if you have to, but just park. The sooner you begin the hike, the sooner you start your mission. Grab a stray shopping card while in the parking lot to familiarize yourself with your weapon.

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  • 2

    Make a list

    You don't go to war without a plan, and you should never go to Black Friday without specific goals in mind. The casual shopper, absentmindedly browsing the perfume samples or biography rack at Barnes and Nobles is an easy target for the hardened veteran shopper's "elbow of death." Figure out what items you need, not just want, and itemize them according to priority. There’s no shame in starting to plan for Black Friday shopping early. And by early, we mean six months ago.

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  • 3

    Keep your coupons handy

    There's nothing worse than slow shoppers who hold up a line while fumbling for coupons, earning nothing but sheer hate from the cashier and their fellow customers. Have your coupons ready to go, and be familiar with what combos or deals you can or can't combine them with. Seriously. Even a momentary pause can make the checkout line even more of a grueling ordeal.

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  • 4

    Exploit your enemy's weakness

    While we would never condone violence, it's important to bring a "winner takes all" mentality to Black Friday. Your nephew isn’t going to remember how you almost got him the 'Star Wars' Lego playset but were beaten to it by a more experienced shopper who snatched it up after you put it down for five seconds to check your phone messages. He's going to remember how his awesome aunt went above and beyond so he could have cherished holiday memories. So don’t be afraid to hunt like a wolf, i.e. picking on the weak and lame. As long as they haven’t paid for it and you don’t physically take it from them, it’s fair game. Black Friday can justify a wee bit of jerkiness.

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  • 5

    Escape

    Once your consumerist thirst has been sated for another year, head immediately to your escape SUV and hope that you haven't been boxed in during the nine hours you were inside the mall. Providing everything goes well, drive away ASAP, leaving the Sodom and Gomorrah of retail behind. Remember, everyone has done things they’re not proud of during Black Friday. At least now, you have the tools to prepare for next year's holiday shopping onslaught. And a cheap 'Paul Blart' Blu-ray.

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