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Virtually Painless: Navigating Black Friday Online

What is the appeal of Black Friday? Much like the recent Missoni for Target frenzy (to which we, admittedly, happily succumbed), it seems like an event created by retail forces to trick us into buying things we don't really want, and our loved ones won't really want to get, just because of the deep discount savings. Each year we watch our mothers, sisters and friends rise before dawn to line up outside of malls, Best Buys and Walmarts to queue up and save big -- risking injury or even death in the process.

Seriously, death. Over a sweet new Blu-ray player or a big-screen television? The Black Friday ritual gets more and more ridiculous each year; this year retail giant Target plans to open at midnight, while Walmart will welcome shoppers at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Luckily we have a little thing called the Internet, which allows us to shop while we drink mimosas and eat leftover turkey rather than stalking people for their parking spaces and throwing elbows at little old ladies who are inexplicably vying for the Jessica Simpson six-inch platforms you covet.

You can't put a price tag on sanity; shop from home. To help you prep, here is a list of places to start your Black Friday online shopping. PJs not required, but they are encouraged.

Many online retailers will offer the same kind of deep discounts for their online Black Friday shoppers, and some will throw in additional perks like free shipping or next-purchase coupons. The Black Friday 2011 Web site tracks online and in-store sales for Friday, November 25, listing deals, ads, news and store information, complete with a countdown ticker in the header to create the special feeling of impending excitement (or doom, depending on how you look at it). You can check out BFAds.com for similar information on Black Friday deals.

So, where to start? Here are a few of our suggestions for getting the most for your money -- without getting elbowed in the face.

A-to-Z Retail Shopping

Amazon.com: Black Friday deals at Amazon are extended through the week starting today. Amazon offers good prices, and the extended sale period means you can be done with your Black Friday shopping before Black Friday even starts. If you want especially hot items, like the Kindle Fire, it's best to order as early as possible to ensure it's under the tree Christmas morning.

QVC: No need to devote yourself to this shopping channel's 24-hour selling cycle, just visit its Web site. They offer plenty of name-brand apparel, jewelry and beauty products. Black Friday begins on Thanksgiving at QVC -- check out their Black Friday preview and warm up the credit card.

Overstock.com: Deep discounts and free shipping options make Overstock.com a great online shopping destination. It also has an online Black Friday guide to make shopping easier.

Target: Really, there is no need to line up at midnight with a belly full of turkey when you can get a sneak peek at what Target has in store for shoppers, and then buy online.

Department Stores

Macy's: We're having a little bit of a love affair with Macy's these days, due to some very competitive pricing both online and in stores. They are having a 20 percent to 50 percent off Thanksgiving sale, with an extra 15 percent off coupon code GOBBLE. Macy's Black Friday preview page is up and running.

Designer Discounts

Beyond the Rack: Designer exclusives at incredible discounts (we may or may not have ordered some Diane von Furstenberg sunglasses for ourselves as an early Christmas present) are delivered to your inbox several times a day through Beyond the Rack. Hermès, Chanel, Missoni, Michael Kors and much, much more.

OpenSky: OpenSky sends you notification e-mails based on your account settings and preferences. Select carefully, or your inbox will be bombarded, but the prices are excellent and the products are high-end and come with "celebrity recommendations," for what it's worth.

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