5 Ways to Do Black Friday Right in Richmond

For many families, the day after Thanksgiving marks the true beginning of the Christmas season. Lights sparkle from every tree branch, wreaths decorate every door, and the sounds of cheery carols and jingling bells fill the crisp winter air. Still, more and more families are eager to reconnect with the reason for the season, and Black Friday seems a bit too commercialized any more to be appealing. Fortunately, Richmond, Virginia offers a wealth of holiday activities for the discerning family that wants to celebrate the official start of the holiday season.

Take a stroll down Cary Street
If you're eager to get started on holiday shopping, but you're not so excited about the long lines and pushy crowds at big name department stores, spend your dollar where it's going to make a difference in the community by shopping in Carytown. The boutique shops that line Cary Street are independently owned and operated, and the neighborhood is the perfect setting for a special afternoon with the ones you love. In keeping with the holiday spirit, be sure to stop in at a fair trade store like The Artisans Shops so that your holiday spending is sure to make an impact on an individual's livelihood.

Stop in for a movie and support a historic theater
While you're in Carytown, be sure to stop for a reasonably priced movie at The Byrd Theater, where you can get movie tickets and concessions for the entire family for less than a trip to McDonald's. The beautiful historic building is classy, charming, and uniquely Richmond, and the cost of your movie ticket goes towards maintaining and preserving this local icon. Besides, after all the bustle from Thanksgiving dinner, it's nice to cozy up with a good movie and the people you love.

Learn something new
Take a break from the traffic and noise at the Science Museum of Virginia, where you and your family will be blown away by how incredible our world really is. This child-friendly museum is a great place to wander for an afternoon before having a succulent dinner at one of Richmond's many fine restaurants. Catch a breathtaking movie in their crystal clear Dome Theater, or simply marvel at the wonders of space, time, and the human body. If you're the type of person that finds holiday shopping stressful, the Science Museum is the perfect thing to take your mind off of it.

Enter a world of light and wonder
Every year, the Dominion GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens is an incredible, otherworldly experience. Bring a good camera and the people you love, and wander the meandering paths through stunning light displays that will take your breath away. When it gets too cold, check out the towering Christmas tree in the conservatory, or visit one of the model train displays. The children's garden serves up hot chocolate and s'mores to fuel even more adventure. The GardenFest of Lights is an absolute can't-miss holiday event!

Feed the hungry
The holidays are all about love, compassion, caring, and giving, so honor that true meaning by giving your time and energy to someone who really needs it this Christmas. Organizations like Feedmore are always looking for volunteers to prepare and deliver meals to the hungry, and many churches - like Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church - host regular soup kitchens to provide for those in need within the community. If you're concerned that your children should be exposed to less commercialism and more true holiday giving this Black Friday, consider giving your time to a worthwhile cause to share some cheer with those who have nothing to give in return.

Kitty Lusby spent the formative years of her life in the Richmond, Virginia area, where she loved strolling through the formal gardens and was fascinated by the haunting history. As a professional writer, she enjoys educating travelers about the unique charm of the great Southern city, and her travels only serve to increase her appreciation for her hometown.