On Black Friday, truly great deals pop up for the most coveted household items we recommend, everything from Instant Pots to cozy L.L.Bean flannel sheets to Dyson cordless stick vacuums (a perennial favorite among the Wirecutter staff). If these are the kinds of items you’ve had an eye on all year, this Black Friday may be the time to buy. But before you get swept up in a whirlwind of doorbusters, make sure you’re hunting for something you’ll love—something that will serve you well for years to come. As always, Wirecutter is here to help with that, armed with years of research and testing.
We polled our colleagues on the household beat, and they were consistent about one thing: Approach Black Friday with a plan. Starting with a wishlist will take you a long way, especially when you can count on us to hunt down the truly great deals for you—just keep an eye on our Black Friday Deals page. On top of that, our kitchen and home experts have some extra tips to help you make the best purchases for your home.
Now is a great time to find deals on everything from blenders to toaster ovens, but remember that the world of small kitchen appliances is particularly prone to fads and gimmicks. Once in a blue moon, an innovation pays off, and you get something versatile enough to earn a space in your kitchen, such as the Instant Pot. More often, you get a mediocre machine hogging precious counter space. Case in point: the air fryer, which is really just an awkwardly shaped, less versatile convection toaster oven. Although you’ll surely see air fryers on sale this season, keep an eye out instead for price drops on our larger toaster oven picks, and you’ll get more bang for your buck.
In general, as you make your Black Friday list, ask yourself one hard question: What do you really need? For example, do you need a nonstick cookware set? You do only if you cook a lot of fish and eggs and other delicate items. If not, you probably can spend your money better elsewhere. A stainless cookware set is a longer-lasting choice (nonstick pans wear out fast). If your kitchen is small, don’t pass up a deal on a single 12-inch All-Clad skillet—that’s a pan that will last a lifetime.
Wirecutter kitchen writers Lesley Stockton and Michael Sullivan both told us that although it’s best to stick to trusted brands, it’s important to know what features you want—as well as your dealbreakers—to make sure you’re getting what you need. You’ll see deals pop up for several nearly identical models of big-ticket items like KitchenAid stand mixers and Vitamix blenders, as well as numerous variations of cookware that look and sound almost the same. We’ve found in our testing that these small details make a big difference: For example, the narrow, tapered jar of the Vitamix 5200 blender we recommend is notably more efficient than the wider jars of other Vitamix models. And All-Clad’s five-ply d5 Stainless Steel Cookware is slower and less even in heating than the tri-ply All-Clad cookware we love.
If you’re unsure about an item, check our Black Friday Deals page for discounts on Wirecutter picks. And when in doubt, tweet questions to @WirecutterDeals.
If you’ve been holding out for a Dyson or a robot vacuum (both of which are pricey but can vastly improve your life), you’re in luck. Appliance editor Liam McCabe told us he expected to see good deals on both Dysons and Roombas this holiday season. But as with kitchenware, you’ll need to pay attention: The brand name alone doesn’t mean it’s a good buy. “The trick,” said Liam, “is that they aren’t always the exact variant we recommend. That’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, but you gotta pay attention to the accessories.”
Dyson makes all kinds of vacuums, but the V7 cordless stick vacuum offers the best balance of price and performance, and it’s our current choice for the best cordless stick vacuum. Although we’re already seeing deals on the V7, keep an eye on its predecessor, the Dyson V6, too. The V6 is louder than the V7, with a slightly shorter battery life, but for the right price (around $160) it’s a good buy.
The Dyson V8 is the exact same vacuum as the V7, only with longer battery life and a larger price tag. It’s our upgrade pick, but most people will be more than satisfied with the V7.
For upright plug-in vacuums, we don’t recommend Dyson. Instead, look for a deal on the Shark Navigator Lift-Away. If you really want the very best plug-in vacuum, consider the $600 Miele Compact C2 Electro+. It’s expensive and far more vacuum than most people need, but we recommend it over similar Dyson models.
iRobot’s Roomba variations abound, and Liam told us the company tends to offer additional, slightly different models just for special events like Black Friday. Most of the time, he said, “you can’t really go wrong with a Roomba,” but be sure to note the accessories and features before buying.
There are two things in particular a good Roomba should come with: the ability to connect to Wi-Fi and at least one virtual wall (a small beacon you can set up to keep the bot from entering a certain room). Last year we saw special editions without Wi-Fi, which we’d avoid—the ability to control the vacuum with your phone or Alexa is one of the things that set our Roomba picks apart from the less expensive Eufy robot vacuums we recommend.
Speaking of Eufy, if you’re trying to decide between a Eufy robot vacuum and a Roomba, let price and features be your guide. Roombas are repairable, so they last longer, and they come with some nice extras. But they’re louder and bigger than Eufy vacuums, and they don’t get much more powerful until you’re in the $400 price range (before discounts).
After listening to more than 230 portable Bluetooth speakers over the past three years, we think the Tribit X-Boom is the best all-around choice. Its big, full sound made it the unanimous pick among under-$100 portable speakers in our blind listening test, and its IPX7 waterproof rating, floating design, and decent battery life make it...