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Your Guide to the Best Guides to 2023 Black Friday Deals

Is it just us, or does Black Friday feel more like Black Autumn lately? If your inbox is like ours, you’ve been receiving early holiday deals from your favorite retailers since the first week of October.

Is it just us, or does Black Friday feel more like Black Autumn lately? If your inbox is like ours, you’ve been receiving early holiday deals from your favorite retailers since the first week of October.

We’re all for getting your shopping done early and staying home watching football and eating leftover turkey sandwiches instead of braving the crowds before sunrise—but, especially this year, it makes sense to try to get the maximum bang for your holiday buck.

Whether you prefer to shop online or in person, the good news is that there’s now a whole cottage industry devoted to evaluating the newest products and tracking down the latest deals.

Here are some of the most useful.

The best guide when you’re shopping for the best (fill in the blank): The Wirecutter

Thinking about getting someone you love a digital piano? An espresso maker? A new bike? If you haven’t got your heart set on a specific make and model, a great place to start your search is The Wirecutter. The site offers buying guides for everything from down jackets to insulated coffee mugs to computers and kitchen appliances—and not only offers readers the best options based on value or overall quality, but also provides up-to-the-minute pricing information from big retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

The only downside is that the site produces such thorough, easy-to-use reviews that it was purchased by The New York Times a few years ago, which has recently started charging for a separate subscription to the site.

Now, you can only view 10 articles for free each month—but the good news is that unlimited access only costs $5 a month. (Even better, The New York Times now allows you to cancel your subscription online, without speaking to a customer service representative, if you plan to log in for the holiday season only.)

Do they publish specialized Black Friday deal finders? Yes!

Typical review: The best fitness trackers

The best guide when you need a little gifting inspiration: The Strategist

Are you the kind of person who wants to know which products your favorite celebrity can’t live without? Or perhaps someone who wants gift suggestions for teenaged girls made by actual teenaged girls? How about an introduction to the best choices for some luxury item (velvet duvet covers, cashmere socks, fancy moisturizers) you never considered buying before? Then New York Magazine’s shopping blog The Strategist offers exactly the kind of advice you’re looking for.

One of the site’s specialties is combing through all the latest sales and compiling all the best available deals in a single list—which is a great way to find yourself suddenly buying a $400 state-of-the-art cordless vacuum and a cute ceramic pie plate when you had no previous intention to purchase either. Beware, impulse shoppers! On the bright side, you can read their content without paying for a full New York subscription.

Do they publish specialized Black Friday deal finders? Yes!

Typical review: The Best Secret Santa Gifts on Amazon under $25

The best guide when you’re making a major purchase: Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is the granddaddy of product review sites—in fact, it got its start as a print magazine that it still publishes. It’s still the gold standard for evaluating big-ticket items from refrigerators to trucks. Of course, they review smaller appliances, as well as some truly unusual items like flooring, paint, and portable generators.

Their monthly subscription rate ($10) is pricier than The Wirecutter, but an annual subscription is only $39.95. What’s more, Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization that puts all the money it earns back into its labs, scientists, researchers, and technicians. Think of them as the only credit union in a market full of banks.

Do they publish specialized Black Friday deal finders? Yes, and organized by category and price (for those of you who don’t want to spend more than $50 on Aunt Hilda)

Typical review: All-Season Tires (searchable by year, make and model of vehicle)

The best guide for checking whether you’ve found an actual bargain: Google Shopping

As a review site, Google Shopping offers minimal content—just the average consumer rating from Google's own review system, as well as advertisers, sellers, and other third-party sites. But once you think you know what you want, it’s a fast and easy way to check if there’s a better price available. Just plug in the name of the product you want to buy, and it will bring up listings from multiple retailers and their current advertised price.

Google also understands that all retailers aren’t created equal—and that many consumers are afraid of getting ripped off if they purchase an item from a retailer they don’t recognize. If Google finds reviews attesting to fast shipping, an easy return process, and good user ratings, it will indicate that a retailer is a “trusted store.”

Do they publish specialized Black Friday deal finders? No, but they can find you a deal on a DVD of the horror movie Black Friday

Typical listing: Diptyque Feu du Bois Scented Candle (available for $40 compared to a list price of $72)

The guide for wasting your time: BuzzFeed Shopping

It should come as no surprise that when BuzzFeed shops, it shops in clickbait-y headlines: “30 ShopDisney Products So Good, You’ll Be Tracking Delivery Until They Arrive.” “37 Travel Products that Will Make You Want to Book Your Next Flight ASAP.” “33 Things To Help You Fit Way More Stuff In a Small Space.” Most featured products don’t include original reviews, just links to purchase the product and a couple of representative consumer reviews copied from retail sites.

But, hey, it’s free, so long as you’re willing to put up with a dozen different banner ads flashing past as you scroll and to reward this kind of lazy content with your precious clicks.

Do they publish specialized Black Friday deal finders? Yes, but their coverage of early Black Friday specials is … not great

Typical review: Target Finds (sponsored by Target)

The guide that’s not a guide, just a really good place to spend Black Friday: Vibrant Coffeehouse and Kitchen

This is the Black Friday destination that has everything: ample parking, delicious coffee and food, comfortable seating, and a wide assortment of everything from hoodies to mugs to locally made earrings for sale. Grab a holiday mocha and sip while you browse—or stake out a booth and use our WiFi to shop online while you enjoy free refills of house-roasted P.O.B.C. (that’s “plain old black coffee”).

Do they offer special Black Friday deals? Well, members save 20% on food and drinks when they pay with a Vibrant credit or debit card every day—but keep an eye out on social media for some last-minute surprises and exclusives!

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