The Target $5 Challenge

For Advent, we’re always looking for creative ways to bond as a family, as I’ve previously shared. I love trying to do this in new and different ways. I had been considering ways that we could really either get to know each other better, or prove that we knew each other very well as a family.

When I saw these awesome Gift Card coins from Target, my idea came to me pretty suddenly.

Aren’t they adorable? They look like little cookies! You can load any amount on them, but the only catch is that all 5 coins in the package have to be loaded with the same amount. I chose to load $5 on each gift card, meaning that this pack was $25 total. I can think of so many awesome ways to use these other than the way we used them, such as:

-Teacher gifts. Buy the whole package, load the amount on all of them, and have your student pass out a coin to each of their teachers.
-Stocking stuffers. Put a certain amount in each one and slip it into stockings for a great gift that allows the recipient to pick anything out they want.
-Rewards. Potty training? Give your little trainer a gift coin for every certain amount of times they use the potty. Give them for good grades, one coin for each A, give them for doing extra work around the house or as a reward for siblings being extra nice to each other one day.
-Allowance. Instead of giving the kids cash for allowance, try a gift coin. Since you can pre-load the amount on multiple coins at once, you can keep the stash and give them out one at a time (or to multiple kids at once).
-A way to put yourself on a little bit of a budget. If you’re like me, you can’t enter Target without spending ridiculous amounts. By purchasing these with my limit in advance, I can go through the post holiday sale knowing I only have a certain amount of money to spend. Then, come Valentine’s day sales, I can pull out another coin and spend that amount in THAT sale.

I’m sure you can think of a ton of other ideas for these awesome coins, but for our gift challenge, this is what we did:

When we entered the store, we had a small pow-wow. I gave each person a gift coin (since our family has 6 people, I had to purchase one extra gift card separately) and each person drew a slip of paper with another family member’s name on it. Each person had $5 and 30 minutes to find the perfect gift for their recipient. I personally had to shop for my person, and help Zach find his gift for someone, as well.

The best part of the challenge was that, sometimes walking around the store, you’d see someone else in the family. Immediately, one of you would dart behind a sign or head down another aisle. Since none of us knew who had us, we didn’t want to spoil our own surprise, and we didn’t want the person we were buying for to see their gift, either. I kind of felt like a super spy when trying to participate in the activity!

At the end of the activity, we each checked out separately using our Target gift coins, and then we met in the cafe area at the front of our store. Then, it was time to head home and unwrap our gifts. It was at home that we would find out who our Secret Gifter was. We gifted in order of age, youngest to oldest.

It turns out that Nicolas drew Zach’s name. Zach was eager to find out what might be inside of his shopping bag.


Jeffrey was next…

Dad clearly did a good job with his! Jeffrey and Nicolas often have Nerf wars around the house, so it’s not uncommon to have a little orange bullet whizzing past your head at any given moment. It was a great choice under $5 for Jeffrey!

Nicolas got a great variety of snacks from Jeffrey, including some favorites like Goldfish and Hershey’s Kisses.

Mom bought me one of my favorite things– Ghiradelli chocolates filled with caramel!

When I drew mom, I found the perfect present for her quite easily… when she had gotten her shoulder surgery a few years ago, she constantly needed help from me. You see, she puts on socks at night, but then by morning, they’ve somehow fallen off of her feet. After surgery, I had to look for them, since she couldn’t search under the covers to find them!

I purchased some warm, cozy, fuzzy socks so that for years to come, we’d get to play the sock game.

Nicolas didn’t think it sounded very fun, so mom said “Don’t you insult the sock game!”

We wrapped up with Zach’s gift to my dad (his Grandpa), a pumpkin pie and a leg lamp stress ball!

It was amazing the creative gifts that we could get for only $5 each! It was really cool to see how creative each of us got and how much thought we put into our gifts. I loved that each person was thoroughly pleased with what they received (and with what they gave!). $5 was plenty to get an interesting and unique gift for each person… and it helps that Target has a lot of sections that have affordable gifts. It also helped me see how many great gifts I could get for Christmas, as well, even though I’m on a strict budget.

The front of the store has a great $3 stocking stuffer section currently, as well as plenty of items priced at $1 and $2.50. The seasonal section includes gobs of seasonal candy and gifts at great prices, as well as more stocking stuffers at a $5 price point. There are also many great books, CDs, and movies in the $5 range, as well as food, gourmet coffee, and gifts. For example, 4 pairs of fuzzy socks for $5? That’s awesome!

My family did consider ways that we could have done things differently. All of us thought that more time would have been helpful. A lot of us spent more time worrying about whether we were on time than if we were getting the right thing, so having an hour instead of 30 minutes would have made the experience more fun. We also were surprised that if we had $7 instead of $5, it would have totally changed what we could have gotten each other, and absolutely made a difference in the number of items or quality of items we could have purchased. It’s amazing what a huge difference $2 could have made!

All in all, it was the perfect evening for our family, filled with fun and giving, and we loved having a great opportunity to try to pick out the perfect gift for other members of our family.



  1. This is such a neat idea. I would love to do this this, but with just 2 of us–not so much fun. The pictures of your family are some of the best I’ve ever seen.

  2. Oh, what fun. I know you all had a great time doing this. This also might be fun for a host family to do at the end of their students stay. See how much you have learned about your host family.

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