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5 Ways to Beat Black Friday

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Why wait on massive lines at ungodly hours just to get a good deal? We’ve got five alter-native ways to make the most of the year’s biggest shopping weekend.

1Each Thanksgiving weekend, a craft fair put on by the Dutchess Community College Foundation takes over the campus. Featuring more than 100 vendors (most of them local artisans), the 43-year-old fair takes place on November 29-30 this year. Pick up a unique painting, one-of-a-kind bracelet, or specialty food item for that hard-to-buy-for relative. Proceeds go to student scholarships (www.sunydutchess.edu).

2The brainchild of American Express, the nationwide Small Business Saturday event occurs on November 30. Using social media and the lure of special promotions, organizers encourage shoppers to frequent local businesses instead of large conglomerates. Take a look at the interactive map at http://shopsmallnow.americanexpress.com for a list of participating Valley businesses.

3Ah, Cyber Monday — the online equivalent of Black Friday, during which retailers offer huge discounts via their Web pages. Check out the Hudson Valley Etsy Team, a collective of Valley craftspeople who sell their original creations on the popular e-commerce Web site. The artists offer everything from snazzy handbags to sushi plates, so you’re sure to find a unique gift for everyone (www.hudsonvalleyetsy.com).

4Take a stand against consumerism with Buy Nothing Day. This international day of protest (which extends into 60 countries) urges participants to purchase nothing on Black Friday. Some put up anti-shopping posters outside malls, cut up credit cards, and organize “Whirl-Marts”: groups of 10 people line up and push shopping carts around a store — but don’t buy anything (www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd).

5Donate the money you would have spent at the mall to a local charity. While there are dozens of worthy organizations in the Valley, here’s a small sampling: Astor Services for Children and Families provides in- and outpatient services to children with mental disabilities; People to People, the largest food bank in Rockland County, assisted more than 14,000 households in 2013; Walter Hoving Home helps women rebuild their lives while recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. You’ll feel good kicking off the holidays with generosity.

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