11 Things That Are Usually Steals on Black Friday

iStock
iStock

If you're a big shopper, or even if you're just good at planning out your holiday shopping well in advance, you've likely blocked off Black Friday as a prime day for getting items marked off your wish lists. And if you want to maximize your savings, you know to plan ahead. Some items, from TVs to video games to wearables, are typically the ones with the biggest annual markdowns. To help ensure that you get the best deals, here are 11 of the best things to buy on Black Friday.

1. TVS

Woman shops for TVs.
iStock

Electronics are a big part of Black Friday, and dedicated shoppers are known to camp out in front of stores for the doorbusters. Electronics stores like Best Buy and discount retailers like Target and Walmart are the major destinations for deals on gadgets, and flat screen TVs are one of the most sought-after items. In fact, according to a 2017 survey by Ebates on Black Friday shopping, 33 percent of adult Americans plan to shop for TVs on Black Friday. One incredible deal? This year, Best Buy is selling the Sharp 50" LED Smart Ultra HD TV for $179.99, down from $499.99. Heads up: this deal is in-store only.

2. SMARTPHONES

Man shopping for a phone.
iStock

Considering how expensive Apple products are, it's no surprise that iPhones are always a popular buy on Black Friday. It's the perfect time of to upgrade yours. You won't be alone: according to the Ebates survey, 28 percent of adults will buy smartphones this November 24. Target has the iPhone SE marked down from $159.99 to $99.99. It's not just iPhones, though! You can save on other smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, which Walmart is selling for $299 with a Straight Talk Wireless plan—a savings of $200.

3. LAPTOPS

Woman testing a laptop at a store.
iStock

Expect a ton of deals on Macs and PCs alike. Best Buy's 2017 Black Friday ad features discounts on laptops from Apple, Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, HP, and more. This year, Ebates found that 32 percent of adults intend to take advantage of the deals on laptops, as well as 38 percent of teens. If you know you're gonna need a new laptop for next semester, buy it now for some strategic savings.

4. CLOTHING

Rack of clothing.
iStock

Despite the flashy deals on electronics, clothing is actually the number one item that Americans will purchase this Black Friday. According to Ebates, 39 percent of adults and 49 percent for teens plan to buy clothes on the big day. Many retailers run store-wide discounts, so you can effectively go on a regular shopping trip (albeit in a more crowded environment than usual) while saving a ton of money. Look out for deals on featured items from stores like JCPenney and Macy's, but know that prices on clothing will typically continue to go down through December, even though the risk of those boots you have your eye on going out-of-stock will also increase.

5. TOYS

Mother and child toy shopping.
iStock

Black Friday is a great time to do your holiday gift shopping, and you can save a lot of money on toys for the kids in your life. Ebates found that 30 percent of Americans plan to buy toys this year. Retailers Babies "R" Us and Toys "R" Us always have Black Friday promotions, like 50 percent off select Barbie sets and 40 percent off select LEGO construction sets. You can also find great presents in the toy aisles of stores Target, Walmart, and Kohl's.

6. APPLIANCES

Row of hand mixer kitchen appliances.
iStock

Department stores and discount retailers offer a range of deals on appliances, especially kitchen gadgets. Think toasters, coffee makers, blenders, microwaves, and more. Take advantage of the better sales and stock your kitchen with the basics, or search for novelty items, such as Walmart's offering of a 1.5 liter deep-fryer for $9.88—a 60 percent savings. Try to look for discounts over 40 or 50 percent though—many items priced at the 25-30 percent off range aren't worth the effort on a shopping day like Black Friday.

7. TABLETS

Man looks at smart tablet.
iStock

Like laptops and smartphones, tablets are a major steal on Black Friday. Look for price drops on the Apple iPad, the Amazon Fire, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Best Buy has the Apple iPad mini 4 128 GB for $274.99 (down from $400). And don't forget about e-readers like the Amazon Kindle! Amazon's own Black Friday deals have already begun with their Countdown to Black Friday, but keep your eyes peeled on the actual day for deals on Amazon Devices.

8. VIDEO GAMES AND CONSOLES

Video game controllers.
iStock

Black Friday is huge for gamers. You can find serious deals at GameStop, Best Buy, and P.C. Richard, or discount retailers like Walmart and Target. Many places offer saving on otherwise expensive consoles like PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox. Best Buy has the Xbox One S 500GB Console for $189.99, a $90 savings. Don't forget the games themselves: at Walmart, select titles start at $9.

9. SMART HOME DEVICES

Smart home device.
iStock

Black Friday is the perfect time to take the plunge into the world of smart home gadgets—you can expect to find markdowns on many devices including the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Target has the Amazon Echo Dot for $29.99, a savings of $20. Head to Walmart to get a Google Home for $79 (down from $129).

10. WEARABLES

Woman looking at her smart watch.
iStock

Wearable technology is on the table too, with the chance to save on a variety of smart watches and fitness trackers. Target has the Apple Watch Series 1 for $179.99 (down from $250), while Walmart has the Fitbit Alta HR Small Bundle for 33 percent off, down to $99. Pro tip: wear a fitness tracker on Black Friday to see how many extra steps you fit in while running around finding deals.

11. CAMERAS

Woman shopping for cameras.
iStock

Treat yourself to a real camera on Black Friday and stop relying on your phone for your photography needs. Deals on digital and analog cameras as well as camcorders are always plentiful. Save $70 on a pocket-sized Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80 at Best Buy for $299.99, or go big with the Canon EOS Rebel T6. At $449.99, it might be one of the bigger Black Friday splurges, but at 40 percent off its original $750 price tag, it's also one of the day's biggest savings.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Facts About Real Genius On Its 35th Anniversary

Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

In an era where nerd is a nickname given by and to people who have pretty much any passing interest in popular culture, it’s hard to imagine the way old-school nerds—people with serious and socially-debilitating obsessions—were once ostracized. Computers, progressive rock, and role-playing games (among a handful of other 1970s- early '80s developments) created a path from which far too many of the lonely, awkward, and conventionally undateable would never return. But in the 1980s, movies transformed these oddballs into underdogs and antiheroes, pitting them against attractive, moneyed, successful adversaries for the fate of handsome boys and pretty girls, cushy jobs, and first-place trophies.

The 1985 film Real Genius ranked first among equals from that decade for its stellar cast, sensitive direction, and genuine nerd bona fides. Perhaps fittingly, it sometimes feels overshadowed, and even forgotten, next to broader, bawdier (and certainly now, more problematic) films from the era like Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science. But director Martha Coolidge delivered a classic slobs-versus-snobs adventure that manages to view the academically gifted and socially maladjusted with a greater degree of understanding and compassion while still delivering plenty of good-natured humor.

As the movie commemorates its 35th anniversary, we're looking back at the little details and painstaking efforts that make it such an enduring portrait not just of ‘80s comedy, but of nerdom itself.

1. Producer Brian Grazer wanted Valley Girl director Martha Coolidge to direct Real Genius. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Following the commercial success of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds, there was an influx of bawdy scripts that played upon the same idea, and Real Genius was one of them. In 2011, Coolidge told Kickin’ It Old School that the original script for Real Genius "had a lot of penis and scatological jokes," and she wasn't interested in directing a raunchy Nerds knock-off. So producer Brian Grazer enlisted PJ Torokvei (SCTV) and writing partners Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz (Splash, City Slickers) to refine the original screenplay, and then gave Coolidge herself an opportunity to polish it before production started. “Brian's original goal, and mine, was to make a film that focused on nerds as heroes," Coolidge said. "It was ahead of its time."

2. Martha Coolidge’s priority was getting the science in Real Genius right—or at least as right as possible.

In the film, ambitious professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton) recruits high-achieving students at the fictional Pacific Technical University (inspired by Caltech) to design and build a laser capable of hitting a human-sized target from space. Coolidge researched the subject thoroughly, working with academic, scientific, and military technicians to ensure that as many of the script and story's elements were correct. Moreover, she ensured that the dialogue would hold up to some scrutiny, even if building a laser of the film’s dimensions wasn’t realistic (and still isn’t today).

3. One element of Real Genius that Martha Coolidge didn’t base on real events turned out to be truer than expected.

From the beginning, the idea that students were actively being exploited by their teacher to develop government technology was always fictional. But Coolidge learned that art and life share more in common than she knew at the time. “I have had so many letters since I made Real Genius from people who said, 'Yes, I was involved in a program and I didn’t realize I was developing weapons,'" she told Uproxx in 2015. “So it was a good guess and turned out to be quite accurate.”

4. Val Kilmer walked into his Real Genius audition already in character—and it nearly cost him the role.

After playing the lead in Top Secret!, Val Kilmer was firmly on Hollywood’s radar. But when he met Grazer at his audition for Real Genius, Kilmer decided to have some fun at the expense of the guy who would decide whether or not he’d get the part. "The character wasn't polite," Kilmer recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 1995. "So when I shook Grazer's hand and he said, 'Hi, I'm the producer,' I said, 'I'm sorry. You look like you're 12 years old. I like to work with men.'"

5. The filmmakers briefly considered using an actual “real genius” to star in Real Genius.

Among the performers considered to play Mitch, the wunderkind student who sets the movie’s story in motion, was a true genius who graduated college at 14 and was starting law school. Late in the casting process, they found their Mitch in Gabriel Jarrett, who becomes the third generation of overachievers (after Kilmer’s Chris and Jon Gries’s Lazlo Hollyfeld) whose talent Hathaway uses to further his own professional goals.

6. Real Genius's female lead inadvertently created a legacy for her character that would continue in animated form.

Michelle Meyrink, Gabriel Jarret, Val Kilmer, and Mark Kamiyama in Real Genius (1985).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Michelle Meyrink was a staple of a number of ‘80s comedies, including Revenge of the Nerds. Playing Jordan in Real Genius, she claims to “never sleep” and offers a delightful portrait of high-functioning attention-deficit disorder with a chipper, erratic personality. Disney’s Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers co-creator Tad Stones has confirmed that her character went on to inspire the character of Gadget Hackwrench.

7. A Real Genius subplot, where a computer programmer is gaming a Frito-Lay contest, was based on real events.

In the film, Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite) plays Lazlo Hollyfeld, a reclusive genius from before Chris and Mitch’s time who lives in a bunker beneath their dorm creating entries to a contest with no restrictions where he eventually wins more than 30 percent of the prizes. In 1969, students from Caltech tried a similar tactic with Frito-Lay to game the odds. But in 1975, three computer programmers used an IBM to generate 1.2 million entries in a contest for McDonald’s, where they received 20 percent of the prizes (and a lot of complaints from customers) for their effort.

8. One of Real Genius's cast members went on to write another tribute to nerds a decade later.

Dean Devlin, who co-wrote Stargate and Independence Day with Roland Emmerich, plays Milton, another student at Pacific Tech who experiences a memorable meltdown in the rush up to finals.

9. The popcorn gag that ends Real Genius isn’t really possible, but they used real popcorn to simulate it.

At the end of the film, Chris and Mitch build a giant Jiffy Pop pack that the laser unleashes after they redirect its targeting system. The resulting popcorn fills Professor Hathaway’s house as an act of revenge. MythBusters took pains to recreate this gag in a number of ways, but quickly discovered that it wouldn’t work; even at scale, the popcorn just burns in the heat of a laser.

To pull off the scene in the film, Coolidge said that the production had people popping corn for six weeks of filming in order to get enough for the finale. After that, they had to build a house that they could manipulate with hydraulics so that the popcorn would “explode” out of every doorway and window.

10. Real Genius was the first movie to be promoted on the internet.

A week before Real Genius opened, promoters set up a press conference at a computer store in Westwood, California. Coolidge and members of the cast appeared to field questions from press from across the country—connected via CompuServe. Though the experience was evidently marred by technical problems (this was the mid-1980s, after all), the event marked the debut of what became the online roundtable junket.