What is the best deal you ever got on Black Friday? I learned a very important lesson a couple years ago:

If you watch the Black Friday ads ahead of time, you can score the deal BEFORE Black Friday. The catch is that you have to pay full price initially, go back to the store on Black Friday and get the difference. Most large retailers will do this, but please check before the store’s policies before you go – not every store does it.

In my case, I bought a TV in their Black Friday ad for $999 the Wednesday before Black Friday. I went in on Black Friday around 4 pm (a reasonable hour after all the crazies are gone) and cashed in on their guarantee to match a price for 10 days. I plan to do the same this year. Granted, the bizarre situations like “We will have only 10 not-yet-released-to-the-public toys on Black Friday” will not work, but normal items on doorbuster will.

Good luck – come back and tell me what you score! : )

To be someone’s Valentine is to be loved by another. Romantic? Of course, but Valentine’s Day is not the sole property of loving couples. It can also be a wonderful day for loving families.

Here are some ways parents can use Valentine’s Day to introduce new family traditions and create some special memories for their children.

1. Food is often the way to the heart. How about getting the whole family involved in making a heart-shaped meal. Place a cookie cutter into a pan. Pour in an egg or some pancake batter to cook into a heart-shaped breakfast treat. Using a heart-shaped template, trim French toast or sandwiches into a heart-shaped lunch. A larger template can make a Valentine’s Day pizza a favorite dinner or evening treat. And don’t forget the heart-shaped cookies. Get the kids involved in the preparations, and let them decorate their heart-shaped goodies with pink sprinkles or red strawberries. They’ll love it that much more.

2. Kids love a Valentine’s fashion show. Have each participant, including Mom and Dad put together an outfit from items found around the house. The only rule is that the models can only wear white, pink or red. Get creative – a silk flower bonnet, a white tablecloth evening gown, a red sports equipment ensemble. Help younger ones who are unable to do it themselves. Then, invite Grandma and Grandpa to see the crazy ideas everyone has come up with to showcase their Valentine’s spirit.

3. Create a family gift that will keep on giving. Work together to create a jar of special notes — include anything that will make the other people in the family feel loved when they read them (a special memory about a great time together as a family, a meaningful poem or quote, something you love about every member of the family). Work on them individually or together. Then, over the next several months pull one from the jar during family nights and share it.

4. Set up a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt. Hide Valentine’s treats around the house with clues that lead family members from one spot to the next. This is an easy game to modify for children of different ages simply by setting different levels of difficulty for the clues.  Little ones can be given pictures and older children can follow written clues.

5. Instead of giving gifts, make “coupons” for each other. Every person could give one or two coupons to every member of the family to redeem whenever they want. Parents could exchange back rubs or a night off from the dishes. To their children, they can give an extra bedtime story, a special meal or treat. Children can make coupons up for their parents for hugs and kisses or a week of taking out the garbage.

Get creative. Put on your thinking caps and you can make great Valentine’s Day memories your family will treasure forever.

About the Author:
Jennifer Kirkpatrick is a busy mom of two and an entrepreneur who creates and sells unique items for kids of all ages. Visit her online store Pipsqueak Boutique for great baby gifts. And check out her clothing line, Define*Me Clothing for fun personalized kids clothes.