1:58AM, November 25, 2022… As my family gets a good nights sleep, I continue to control my lifelong battle of “FOMO” and insomnia. It’s Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, and the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season! Years ago, my mother-in-law and I would brave the cold and go shopping at 5am at all the major stores to get the best deals. She often tells me I was the daughter she never had. However, since Amazon has made it so easy to sit home on my couch and either get the same price on all the stuff I find in the stores or better, it makes more sense to stay home in sweatpants, watch TV, while fidgeting with my phone. Plus, some of the most economical purchases you can make all year for things your kids have been asking for, you spouse, loved one, partner, etc. And let’s not forget about yourself! Here are 7 things I have found this year that may or may not be “Wife Approved”.

1. Heated clothing

My mother has been staying with us since before Halloween, and if there is one thing I have learned while she has been here, it’s that she is never warm enough. As often as she asks me if I plan on turning the heat on (it is) or at least to a decent temperature (it’s set at 70), I can guarantee she will have a sweat shirt on, the gas fireplace going, and a throw blanket (I threw a link in here for you to check one out that is soft and “Dad approved inexpensive” on Black Friday!), so I came across a heated jacket. With sizes of Small-XXL, 4 different colors to choose from, and a detachable hood (my mother hates hoods), this seemed to fit the bill of having that little extra warmth when we go out so that when we get home, I don’t hear the interrogation of why I am freezing the family out of the home. It almost has a perfect 5 star rating with over 6700 reviews, and on Black Friday, its 48% off! Can’t beat that!

2. S’mores Maker/Caramel Apple Making Kit

This is where my wife will be “ok” with the purchase after the fact, because ultimately, my wife likes friendly gatherings, but if I mentioned it to her before making the purchase, she would see how this isn’t something we need. The number of times that I have made a fire in the backyard just so that my youngest son can eat a case of graham crackers, a half a bag of giant marshmallows, and 3 large Hershey bars is infinite. S’mores are a classic summer campfire treat, but why do S’mores have to be enjoyed only part of the year? I bet S’mores are just as delicious in January as they are in July! The Tabletop indoor S’mores Maker lets you test the theory! It does run off a plug, which I had to look at the comments section to check, because the way it is pictured, it seems like it may be battery powered (It isn’t) and it takes about 10 minutes to warm up, although I did look up a negative review that said it takes much longer. It is flameless, with two heater coils under the burner plate. The outside compartments used for surrounding it with ingredients are removable and it claims “easy to clean” and BPA free. Reviews are over 13,800 in total and it has a 4.5 star rating, so more people love it than don’t. It’s about $30 at full price, and only $24 on Black Friday! I’m willing to give it a shot for S’mores in a February blizzard!

As I was looking at the S’mores maker, under the style section there was a choice for a Caramel Apple Fondue pot! This never crossed my mind as a purchase I was seeking out, but having seen a picture, with the ingredient dunking stations surrounding a heated pot of caramel, I can say, I’m in! It’s a little more expensive than the S’more maker with a $40 full price tag, but on Black Friday it’s $29.99 and again, I can see my wife setting my youngest son and his buddies up with this as an activity or some sort of adult get together as a reason to hang out. This with some Jackbox games playing and that’s a successful evening! (Man, when did I get so old?).

3. Streaming Deck

I have prided myself with keeping up with technology for the most part, but my eldest son has surpassed me in every single way. He built his own PC, started his own Twitch streaming channel, and competed in professional E-sport tournaments while he was just out of high school. This past year, Alex (my eldest) gave me advice on a PC purchase and decided I had no clue what I was doing (I didn’t) and built one for me from the ground up. He then began to tell me all the things I could do with it, like starting my own streaming, youtube, tiktok, social media group army! He mentioned getting a stream deck, and from what I can see, it appears to be an organizer for all the social media accounts that an “influencer” may have. Looking at it, it gives me anxiety, which means I have reached the age where I am letting new technology pass me by. There are a ton of these on Amazon, Gamestop, Best Buy, etc. This one seemed to be the best deal for Black Friday at 36% off and a perfect 5 star rating with over 10,000 reviews and reading some of them, they cover how it helps speed up and efficiently ease the workload for live streaming. Social Media influencers! Unite!!!

4. External Hard Drive

Since I was 5 years old, I have been a video game fan. It started with an Atari 2600, evolved to the Nintendo Entertainment System, and from there Sega, Sony, Microsoft, and more Nintendo. The last 2 decades as video games have evolved, so has the size and storage capabilities for each game, and with all of the great games that come out, the internal storage each console has is not nearly enough. When I got my Playstation 4 and Xbox One, I purchase 2 separate 5TB hard drives for each, allowing me to have hundreds of games on each. At the launch of the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X a couple years ago, storage was handled a little differently, and the games are even more massive than they ever were. This 5TB hard drive branded for XBox by allows you to store and play XBox One games immediately, BUT, it only allows you to “archive” Xbox Series X games, downloading them when you are ready to play them to your internal drive. It still uploads faster, and ultimately, it will free up space by not storing last generation console games data on your internal hard drive, so that you won’t get that annoying message on Christmas morning about not being able to play a game till you free up space. I have owned 4 Western Digital External hard drives and have never had a problem with them. They work great. They have smaller options than the 5TB but for only about $12 more you can go from 4TB of storage to 5TB. That’s about 10 extra games or more! It’s not a flashy Christmas present for the kids, but as their parents, it makes it easier on you to not have to help them erase games they aren’t playing to make room for the shiny and new ones.

5. Outdoor Camera System

We have a trampoline in our back yard, and our yard is not fenced. One summer day, a neighborhood teenager came through our yard and decided to start jumping on it. My youngest son told him to get off, and the boy unloaded with a lot of vulgarity. I went outside and became the grumpy old man who said, “Get off my lawn!” This caused my mailbox door to be ripped off the next day and a tree limb in my yard to be uprooted. It’s quite possible it wasn’t a vulgar teenager who did this destruction, but I didn’t have a security system or the desire to spend the money to install one. That changed with the Black Friday Sales! A 5 Camera system on Amazon with a Echo Show is 56% off, going from about $465 to $200! The cameras are weather proof, have a long battery life, are wireless, and there are a lot of them! Here I come with the reviews again, 4.5 star average with over 148K submitted! GET OFF MY LAWN!

5. Hot Dog Warmer

I know what you’re thinking, “Why didn’t he have this follow up the S’more maker?” I thought you may need a break from the kitchen gadgets, but this one can’t be passed up. You can get smaller versions, less expensive, even some that look like toasters but a Hot Dog Roller branded by Oscar Mayer screams authenticity! Doesn’t it? The description says you can make sausage, brats, hot dogs, and…. EGG ROLLS AND VEGGIE DOGS! I love egg rolls, but not on my hot dog steamer. And what even is a veggie dog? At a regular price tag of $70, I may pass on this but at $56 for Black Friday, I could be coerced. 8 hot dogs at once with a bun steamer? This is brillliant! Back to my star rating, 4.5 average with almost 1500 reviews!

6. Laser Tag

We are fortunate that we have a big yard many neighborhood kids that like to come over, so to keep them off the TV screen and get some exercise, this is worth every penny. Laser tag with a set of 4 that can be programmed to pair as teams of two, or individuals. My worry is always that the range is bad or that the aiming is off, but let’s face it, kids are gonna make those excuses anyway. $120 regular priced and $100 on Black Friday! I am certain my wife and I will test them out before Christmas! 21 years and counting together, this is foreplay.

7. Video Game Wall Art

When Alex, my eldest son, moved out of the house to live on his own at 22, I turned his basement bedroom into an office. A blank wall stares back at me each day, and I have decided I am going to hang as many different shapes, posters, and wall art that I can related to Dad Jokes, snacks, and video games that I can! I have found some Van Gogh-like pics of Zelda and these Canvas Mario Wall Art along with many others. You can get them in 3 different sizes, depending on what area you are trying to cover, and again, the reviews are 4.5 stars with over 130 recorded. It does say in the description they are for a kids room…. I think that’s fair… but I bet I’m not the only Dad who wants them for his own office. They aren’t on sale for Black Friday, but at $34 for a set of 3, I think that’s a steal!

It is now 3:59AM… I have a soccer tournament to attend in the morning, which I am certain I will regret having written so late. I hope this list makes some of your day easier! Merry Christmas!