5 Better Ways to Spend Your Time and Money on Black Friday

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PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- If you resisted the urge to skip out on Thanksgiving dessert or Thursday night's last NFL game to head to Target (TGT) , Wal-Mart (WMT) or Toys "R" Us and still haven't hit so much as a Web site today, congratulations: You're one of more than half the U.S. population with better things to do today.

Roughly 147 million shoppers say they plan to go pushing and shoving for deals this Black Friday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. In a promising statement about the future of humanity, that number is down from 152 million last year. Of that 147 million, only 71 million are committed to heading out among the unslept, unwashed masses and doing their holiday shopping under any circumstance.

The other 76 million are going to hang back and wait to see exactly what stores are offering before putting themselves in harm's way. While retailers took that as their cue to bombard consumers with circulars, TV ads, Facebook (FB) posts, tweets, company blog entries, emails and alerts through mobile apps, shoppers took at as their opportunity to decide whether they needed the stress.

If you're still undecided about your Black Friday plans, let us make a humble suggestion: Forget the sales. Let the lemmings claw at each other over out-of-date televisions and "deals" they could get just as easily on Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Free Shipping Day or whatever other fabricated retail holiday comes next. There are real deals out there that won't subject you to crowded store aisles, parking lot traffic or forced flash sales and specials. They're not even particularly good items for holiday wish lists, unless you're really into buying holiday gifts for yourself.

We looked past the organized riots at America's outlets, malls and big box stores and found five better things to spend your time and money on this Black Friday:

Plane tickets

Thanksgiving travel's all over but the hectic flights home and it's already way too late for the winter holidays.

If you have nothing better to do between Nov. 27 and Dec. 12, though, you're just the person the airlines are looking for. For reasons pretty well spelled out, almost nobody flies on these days and airlines drop prices like mad just to fill seats.

Priceline (PCLN) keeps track of the best days to fly throughout the year and those dates (with the exception of the Sundays of Dec. 2 and 9) are big, green pastures of open seats and low fares. AirTran offered a $59 one-way sale last week just to get rid of some of that late November/early December stock, while American is still offering $209 round-trip ski airfare to Vail, Colo.

Many of the better deals went out the door on Monday, but there are still lots of options to pick through.