When you have five kids like Rachel and Aaron Valdez, it doesn't hurt to get a head start on your holiday shopping list.
So Thanksgiving night, they braved the 30-degree cold, the wintry mix that was falling and the crowds to scoop up slime and Xbox games — "whatever my kids have on their lists," Rachel Valdez said — at the Target at 72nd and Dodge Streets.
The Valdezes joined other early birds who started Thursday night with full stomachs and ended with full shopping carts.
Aaron Valdez said he wishes that his wife did a little more online shopping, but she likes picking things out in person.
"I like the thrill of going out and doing the shopping myself," she said.
After Target, they were headed to Walmart, then J.C. Penney, followed by Menards on Black Friday.
* * *
At the Target, employees loaded 65-inch flat-screen TVs into pickup trucks and SUVs. The electronics and toy departments were hopping.
Ashley McCarville of Omaha doesn't usually go out on Thanksgiving night or Black Friday, but she decided to make Target her first and only stop.
She has three girls — 2-year-old twins and a 4-year-old — and found good deals on children's clothing.
"That saves me some money," she said.
She was pleasantly surprised by the nonexistent lines at checkout and the friendly employees and fellow shoppers.
In south Lincoln, Target shoppers lined up for the 5 p.m. opening of the store on South 56th Street. People made plans for where to go and where to meet afterward. Hot items included air fryers and various electronics.
* * *
Nine-year-old Emma Park gave her first Thanksgiving shopping experience top marks.
"It was really good," Emma said. She especially liked the clothes she and her mom, Charmaine Collins, found at the Kohl's near 72nd and Pacific Streets.
The parking lot at the store was almost full by 7 p.m. Thursday night. The store opened at 5 p.m. and offered deals on Instant Pot electric pressure cookers, fleecy blankets and flannel shirts. Shoppers held up winter coats and browsed Christmas ornaments.
By 7 p.m., the checkout line was 40 to 50 people deep.
Emma and her mom hail from Liberty, Missouri, but were visiting family in Omaha for Thanksgiving.
"We got a bunch of clothes, and now we're done," Collins said.
Now they can focus on the important stuff Friday, like the Nebraska-Iowa game.
"Go Cornhuskers!" Collins said.
* * *
Deb Hopkins walked out of Kohl's with her sister April Hopkins and daughter Cassandra Galusha clutching two cozy-looking comforters.
The trio picked out boots, bedding, some shirts and, to get in the holiday spirit, a few ugly Christmas sweaters.
"We're out for fun," Galusha said.
They had already hit up Target and were planning their next trips to Walmart and Menards in the morning.
* * *
Lisa Gonzalez and daughters Aaliyah Gonzalez, 16, and Novalee Gonzalez, 18, enjoyed their big Thanksgiving meal, then hustled out the door to hit up Target, Ulta, Walmart and Kohl's.
They even planned to swing down to the Gretna area to Nebraska Crossing Outlets — Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping is a family tradition.
World-Herald staff writer Aaron Sanderford contributed to this report.