5 Ways To Do Black Friday

(that don’t require standing in line a 4 a.m. outside a big box store)

The early alarm bargains of Black Friday are an irresistible tradition for some. If that’s not your jam—or you’d like to try a new approach to the day after Thanksgiving—here are a few mellow ways to enjoy Black Friday. (And if/when you do head out to shop, consider partaking in Small Business Saturday on Saturday, November 24. It’s also Shop for a Cause Day in downtown Portland, when you can shop local businesses and raise dough for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine.)

1. See the Gardens Aglow

Revel in holiday lights during a self-guided evening tour of the Maine Botanical Gardens like you’ve never seen them before. Bundle up for this sparkling evening, where you’ll wander among the colorful lights decking the gardens. The cafe will be open for warm drinks and grub. Gardens Aglow is open Thursdays through Sundays, November 15 through December 31 (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve). Tickets are $14 adults, $4 children, $12 seniors. There’s a family rate (two adults and two children) of $36 and discounts for members.
FMI: shop.mainegardens.org

2. Delight in a tree lighting

Tree lighting in Monument Square. Photo by Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald

The Festival of Lights runs all weekend in Rockland and kicks off on Friday with Santa’s arrival via U.S. Coast Guard, free horse-drawn wagon rides and the lighting of the Lobster Trap Christmas Tree. In Portland, enjoy the annual lighting of the tree in Monument Square along with live entertainment.

3. Breathe deep in the outdoors

Douglas Mountain. Photo by Shannon Bryan

REI didn’t invent the idea of ditching the shops and going outdoors on Black Friday (folks have been doing it since forever) but they certainly helped bolster the idea—and the #optoutside hashtag. There are countless ways to explore the outdoors in Maine, it’s simply a matter of picking what suits you best. For a short but scenic hike, try Douglas Mountain in Sebago. There are a few trail options ranging from a quarter-mile to a mile in length (perfect for beginner hikers and families) and there’s a stone observation tower at the summit affording expansive views of the Maine Lakes Region.

4. Hang out with a good book

Photo by Shannon Bryan

If you’re lucky to have the day off, why not catch up on some good reads? Some of our favorite books by Maine writers include “The Sweet Relief of Missing Children” by Sarah Braunstein, “The Remedy for Love” by Bill Roorbach, “The Afterlife of Kenzaburo Tsuruda” by Elisabeth Wilkins Lombardo, “The Last Cruise” by Kate Christensen and “This Is How It Begins” by Joan Dempsey.

5. Cruise the craft fairs

Photo courtesy of Upcycle Maine Home Furnishings

It’s officially craft fair season, which means you could spend every waking hour perusing tables of handcrafted goods, from soaps and candles to knit hats and jewelry. Upcycle Maine Home Furnishings in Gorham—a group shop featuring the art and wares of over 30 local artists and crafters—is hosting a Black Friday sale from 4–8 p.m. with complimentary wine, beer and baked goods while you shop. There’s also a Holiday Craft Fair at Bonny Eagle in Standish from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, featuring jewelry, ceramics, stained glass, paintings, ornaments, quilts, specialty foods and more.

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Shannon Bryan

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