Black Friday is almost here, bringing with it crowds, lines and bargains that may not really be bargains.
The day after Thanksgiving will mark the official kickoff of the 2015 holiday shopping season, which can be a very expensive time in the average family's budget. The National Retail Federation predicts that American consumers will spend an average of about $806 this year, up slightly from about $802 last year.
Tackling Black Friday (and the rest of your holiday shopping) with a plan in mind could help ease stress and help you avoid wasting money on gifts that won't wow their recipients.
Before you head out, do a dry run to check out the layouts of the stores you want to visit. This could help you plan the most efficient -- and least expensive -- routes.
It's also a good idea to do your research. Many bricks-and-mortar retailers offer price matching, so check the prices for the products you want online before you head out. Bookmark those pages so you can show store employees when negotiating.
Finally, take a look at our top 10 gifts for the home this year. There's something for $200 or less for everyone on your list, from the picky eater to the gardener with the not-so-green thumb.
Kuna smart outdoor light fixture: $199
Buy for: The high-tech homeowner
Ever wonder who stops by your house when you're not home? The Kuna light fixture lets you see and speak to visitors at your front door from your cell phone.
The fixture has an HD camera, microphone and, of course, a light, and sends motion-activated alerts via a cell phone app when someone is on your doorstep.
The free app allows you to record and download footage from the camera and lets you adjust the light's settings remotely.
Kuna is available in three designs and two finish colors, allowing you to match it to your home's exterior. You can also get a camera-free version of the light.
Chromecast Audio: $35
Buy for: The music lover
Enjoy music from your computer or phone on any stereo in the house with Chromecast Audio. The gizmo hooks up to a stereo and connects to your phone, tablet or computer via Wi-Fi. The free Chromecast app allows you to group several of the devices together and play the same music in several rooms of your home.
The Chromecast App works with other apps on your phone, so you're not just limited to playing the music that's already saved in your library. You can also stream music from Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Google Play Music and more.
Perfect Drink App-Controlled Smart Bartending: $49.99
Buy for: The host or hostess
This smart scale and accompanying free app could help you pour the perfect cocktail every time. Pick your recipe from the app's library, set your glass on the scale and follow Perfect Drink's instructions. The scale monitors how much you pour, alerts you when to stop and automatically adjusts the recipe if you overdo it.
If you forgot to restock the bar after your last shindig, tell Perfect Drink which ingredients you have on hand, and it'll generate a list of drinks you can make without a trip to the store.
You can also mix your own drinks and save the recipes in the app, creating your own signature cocktails.
Flower Power: $60
Buy for: The not-so-green thumb
Taking care of plants can be difficult. One day they look fine, and the next they're wilted and dying. Flower Power is a sensor that monitors your plants' health and alerts you when they need a little extra TLC.
You can "plant" the device, which is available in three different colors, next to the plant you want to monitor, select the type of plant from the free app, and it will give you real-time measurements of the necessary soil moisture, fertilizer amount, temperature and light intensity. Flower Power sends this data right to your phone or tablet every two hours and sends an alert when the plant needs attention.
Flower Power is waterproof and can be used to monitor indoor or outdoor plants.
Bamboo cutting board with iPad stand: $34.99
Buy for: The chef
Tablets are a great way to find new recipes, but having electronics in the kitchen while cooking -- where they can be dropped or otherwise damaged -- isn't the best idea.
This cutting board has a removable stand to keep your iPad above the mess while cooking and reduces the risk of catastrophic spills. It also comes with a bamboo stylus so you can use the device without touching it with your food-covered fingers.
Han Solo Fridge: $149.99
Buy for: The "Star Wars" fan
The latest chapter in the "Star Wars" saga is scheduled for release one week before Christmas, and this fridge -- built to look like a carbon freezing chamber with Han Solo trapped inside -- could be the perfect way to store your refreshments as you binge-watch the previous six "Star Wars" films.
The refrigerator holds up to 18 cans of Jawa Juice (or soda) and can also serve as a food warmer, keeping Yoda's rootleaf stew at a toasty 131 to 149 degrees.
It doesn't require any tibanna gas to operate and comes equipped with a power cord for home use and another cord for use in your landspeeder -- or car.
Construction plate and utensils: $32.45 for both
Buy for: The picky eater
Parents have been pretending for decades that a spoon loaded with peas was an airplane and could get kids interested in finishing their vegetables. This dishwasher-safe dining set might be just the right thing help picky eaters enjoy mealtime.
The plate ($14.95) is designed to fit with the construction equipment utensils ($19.95). Kids can place the spoon in its slot, and then use the bulldozer pusher to load it with food.
The divided plate keeps foods from mixing -- a sticking point for many picky eaters -- and is microwave safe.
iGrill2 Bluetooth Thermometer: $99.95
Buy for: The grill master
Take the guesswork out of determining when your meat is done with this gadget. Two temperature probes are inserted into the meat and hooked up to a receiver that sends the meat's temperature to your phone via a free app.
The app tracks the food's progress and can alert you when the food reaches a pre-selected temperature. If you're hosting a big barbecue, the app can manage several iGrill2 devices with different temperature settings.
The magnetic receiver sticks to the side of the grill, keeping it in reach.
Kohler Moxie Showerhead: $199.99
Buy for: The shower karaoke star
Take your shower singing to another level with this showerhead and Bluetooth speaker. It pairs with any Bluetooth-enabled device to stream your favorite music along with the water.
The water-resistant speaker has a built-in rechargeable battery with a seven-hour life and can be charged with the included power cable.
The Moxie comes in four different finishes.
Buy for: The four-legged family member
Invented by a teenager who wanted to finish his homework while his dog barked at him to go play fetch, iFetch lets Fido play all by himself when you can't play with him.
The device launches a miniature tennis ball -- ideal for small dogs -- 10, 20 or 30 feet based on the settings you choose. The dog can catch the ball and drop it back into the machine, which will throw it again. The company is now taking pre-orders for the iFetch Too, a version with full-size tennis balls for bigger dogs.
iFetch comes with three tennis balls and an AC adapter. It can also run on six C batteries, allowing you to take it to the dog park and share the fun with Fido's friends.