Black Friday Shopping That's Good For The Soul

There doesn’t have to be anything dark about Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. We’ve gathered a few activities and gift ideas you can feel good about giving–even if it’s just to yourself.

Holiday cards that spread cheer twice
It’s about time to start hunting down everyone’s mailing addresses to send out beautiful cards with a note. With that task still ahead, here’s a more appealing one–finding those beautiful cards. Many charity organizations sell holiday cards that will put your yearly card purchase to good use. Check out the boxes of cards from City Harvest or City Meals On Wheels–the proceeds from both go toward feeding our less fortunate neighbors. Or, to show your support for the local arts community, get handmade cards from some of our favorite Brooklyn craft makers and letterpresses.

Exchange coats
There’s no better time to get a new coat. Throughout Brooklyn, boutiques will be offering Black Friday deals where you can score some new woolly threads (see below). But if you buy a new one, consider giving away the old coat you don’t wear anymore to someone who needs it. The annual New York Cares coat drive is coming up, so you can stuff your gently used winter warmers into a convenient bin from Dec. 1-31–or, set up a collection center or host a coat drive yourself.

Keep print alive
Considering the amount of literary and art journals published here in Brooklyn, it seems a shame not to give a gift subscription to some special smarty pants in your life. They’ll appreciate getting a beautiful and inspiring gift in their mailbox every quarter or so, and you’ll be supporting a local indie publisher who still believes in print and promoting new ideas and voices. For the art-ephemera-literature lover, try Cabinet, which is like a curiosity shop in print; for fans of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, Slice and A Public Space are both great choices. (The former features interviews with popular writers like Franzen alongside emerging talents; the later includes world literature and culture in its purview.) Those who like a little photography thrown in will enjoy Canteen, and for short story lovers look to One Story–which is as it sounds, just one story, every three weeks. Intellectuals and politicos who also dig fiction and reviews will dig n+1. And for artists and writers who enjoy reading about “process,” BOMB Magazine features interviews of artists, by artists.

Bake to a better-fed community
Put your tried-and-tested pie making skills to good use by signing up to be a volunteer baker for the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen. See dates for dessert-making sessions at Craig’s Kitchen, and join the fun. Looking for a good loaf, for all that leftover turkey? With your $10 donation to ScratchBread, you’ll receive a loaf of bread from the Brooklyn start-up bakery (and one of the best in the borough in our humble opinion) and help them get up and running in their new Bed-Stuy spot.

Be artsy for a year
Fall in love with Americana with a free tour of the exhibition, Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, at the Brooklyn Museum at 2pm. While you’re there, consider giving someone a yearly membership to the museum. Or, if you sign up for a Family & Friends membership, you’ll score two separate membership cards, one for you and for the giftee. In either case, both options will get you free tickets to the museum’s bimonthly Creative Art Making Classes, so you might even be able to make more gifts yourself from scratch.

Friends with benefits
A BAM membership is another smart give-back kind of gift, especially if you get it for your significant other. Not only will it support BAM’s original programming, being a “Friend of BAM” will give your partner first dibs on tickets that are destined to sell out, like the U.S. premiere of “Diary of a Madman” starring Geoffrey Rush, which goes on sale Jan. 3 for members, and Jan. 10 for non-members. (And if you’re a 20 or 30something, you get access to after parties and dinners through BAMfans.) For cinephiles, check out the BAM Cinema Club–you get invites to special screenings and $5 off every movie ticket all year with the most basic, $70 plan. And since you will be the plus-one at many a concert, film or performance in the new year, it’s almost like buying yourself a gift, one that happens to be 100 percent tax deductible (just like the Brooklyn Museum membership). Word.

718 sales
Of course, one of the best ways to mix your shopping and do-gooding is to spend your dollars in a local store. A few are having their own Black Friday sales, like Dalaga in Greenpoint (where you can take 10 percent off coats and an extra 10 percent off already marked down items) and the brand-new Everbrite Mercantile Co. in Red Hook, a design-y general store that is discounting 20-40 percent off select crafted goods, jewelry, and clothes.

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