By Courtney Jespersen
With huge sales and steep savings at nearly every retailer, Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving -- has long been touted as one of the best times of the year for buying just about anything.
But it's not all discounts and deals on the 2015 post-Turkey Day shopping bonanza. Use this guide to determine what you should purchase (and skip) on the day after Thanksgiving to ensure you're getting only the best bargains.
Buy: Previous models of Apple products
Traditionally, major retail stores such as Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart discount Apple products each year on Black Friday. These offers may include price cuts, offers of free gift cards with purchase or a combination of both. This year, look for deals on MacBooks, iMacs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Apple TVs.
At Target, for instance, almost an entire page of its 2015 Black Friday ad is devoted to Apple. Shoppers can score a free Target gift card when they buy any iPad Mini, iPad Air or Apple Watch. There's also a 20% discount on all iPods.
Toys are one of the year's seasonal purchase staples, but you might want to think twice before picking them up on Black Friday. Historically, it's best to wait until closer to Christmas to purchase dolls, action figures and the like. You may run the risk of certain items selling out, but you may also be able to act on big sales in the last weeks leading up to Christmas.
Buy: Gaming system bundles
Black Friday is for gamers just as much as it is for shoppers. This year, look for savings on video game systems and video games alike from retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and GameStop. You'll find great offers particularly on gaming bundles. Traditionally these include the game console plus games and accessories.
This year at Target, the Xbox One 500GB console with "Gears of Wars" digital download is on sale for $299.99 (regularly $349.99). Customers will receive a free $60 Target gift card when they buy this bundle. Over at GameStop, the video game retailer is taking $50 off both the Xbox One 500GB Gears of War Ultimate Bundle and the PlayStation 4 500GB Uncharted Collection Bundle.
Skip: Christmas decorations
You've likely seen the blowout post-Christmas clearance sales every year on Dec. 26. Traditionally, the absolute best time to buy Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, tinsel and other seasonal trimmings is right after Christmas (for obvious reasons).
But if you need these items before the holiday, don't buy them on Black Friday. Sure, you'll see plenty of deals on artificial trees and wrapping paper rolls, especially at home and craft stores, but retailers are more eager to clear out inventory (and slash prices) the closer it gets to Christmas.
Buy: Electronics (TVs, tablets and smartphones)
Electronics deals are a Black Friday staple, and for many consumers, that means shopping for a new TV, tablet or smartphone. In 2014, Target's front-page door buster was a 40-inch Element HDTV for $119. This year, the retailer is offering an impressive $249.99 deal on a 55-inch Westinghouse LED TV.
Over at Staples, tablets are all the rage. Shoppers can save up to 25% on select iPad models. Staples is also dropping the price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite 7-inch down to $79.99 (regularly $139.99).
Whether you choose to spend your Black Friday (or your Thanksgiving) at Target, Staples, Sears, Wal-Mart, Best Buy or some other major retail store, you're almost guaranteed to find TV and tablet door busters. Another electronic deal to keep an eye out for: smartphones.
You've got the entertainment center covered, but hesitate before you stock up on supplies to refresh the appearance of your bedroom this Black Friday. The lowest prices on bedding and linens have been known to appear in January during what are called "white sales," so hold off until then if you can.
Buy: Video games, CDs, DVDs
If you're in need of some affordable stocking stuffers this year, look no further than the video game, CD, DVD and Blu-ray department at most major retailers this Black Friday. You'll find films and gaming titles deeply discounted from their original prices.
This year, for example, Best Buy will be offering select Blu-ray titles for $9.99 each and up to 70 CD titles for $6.99 each. Wal-Mart will have certain video games for $25 each and a selection of special buy DVD titles for just $1.96 apiece.
Skip: Outdoor essentials
You won't see too many grills or patio furniture sets plastered on the front pages of Black Friday ads this year. That's because outdoor products and patio furniture are deeply discounted immediately after summer ends. After all, that generally marks the end of the useful season for such items.
If you didn't pick these products up at the close of this year's warm season, wait until Labor Day sales roll around next year.
Buy: Home appliances
Black Friday is well known for its offers of huge savings on washers, dryers, refrigerators and kitchen appliances. Look for similar deep discounts again this year.
At Sears, for instance, the Kenmore 4.3-cubic-foot washer and 7.3-cubic-foot dryer are on sale for $799.98 for the pair. That's a 57% discount. Best Buy is taking $1,500 off the price of a Samsung 28.2-cubic-foot 4-Door French Door Smart Refrigerator, bringing it down to $2,099.99.
If you're in the market for smaller appliances such as coffee makers, blenders and other kitchen essentials, look for deals this year from department stores such as Kohl's, J.C. Penney and Macy's.
Skip: Winter clothing
Fall and winter clothing generally isn't the best value on Black Friday. Jeans, for instance, see better sales in October, and retailers frequently offer big clearance sales on jackets and the like when winter gives way to spring.
Of course, if you can't wait until then to outfit yourself with cold-weather apparel, you'll be able to find some bargains this Black Friday. Both Macy's and J.C. Penney, for instance, will sell select styles of women's boots for a door-buster price of $19.99 this year.
Buy: Travel deals
Whether it's hotel rooms, ski lift tickets or airfare, you can expect big deals on travel this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, Expedia is already advertising its 2015 Black Friday sale. Check for deals from online travel sites and major airlines alike. Note: In the past, most of these promotions were available for a very limited time.
Skip: Mail-in rebates
If you want to avoid some of the hassle related to Black Friday shopping, resist deals that require a mail-in rebate. Unless you're disciplined enough to fill out the form and wait to receive the rebate, you could end up paying more than you intended.
Always read the fine print; some kitchen appliances, electronics and other popular items may require you to fill out a mail-in rebate to achieve the advertised price. At Kohl's, for example, some small kitchen appliances will be available for $7.99 -- but that's after a $12 mail-in rebate.
Buy: Online door busters
Finally, for the ultimate combination of convenience and savings, spring for online door busters this year. Plenty of big box retailers are bringing their door busters online this Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and some are even offering added cyber deals that won't be available in store. In 2015, look for online deals at such stores as Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy.
For more tips for Black Friday shopping, see:
Full List of 2015 Black Friday Ad Leaks
Full List of 2015 Black Friday Store Hours
7 Stores With Free Shipping on Black Friday
7 Best Free Apps for Black Friday Shopping
Stores That Will be Closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2015
Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @courtneynerd.