Five Dollar Shopping Spree

Cost – If you stick to the budget strictly, it shouldn’t cost more than $10, but we spent about $12.

Five Dollar Shopping Spree

If you’re looking for a great way to test your knowledge on someone, try the five dollar shopping spree. The idea is simple, within a certain time limit you each have to find a gift for the other for five dollars or less. It forces some creative thinking and really does test how well you  know each other.



I usually don’t do well buying presents under pressure. Normally, I end up breaking into a sweaty panic and buying something really strange like tube socks. This is why I start Christmas shopping in October. Since the budget was so low for this task, though, that didn’t happen. Since we were only spending $5, the expectation of a great gift was low and the focus was on something more fun and out of the ordinary.

Brad can’t stand the thoughts of Walmart on a Saturday (or any day) so we went to Winner’s Home Sense at our local mall. We figured Winners would be great since you can get nice things at discount prices. It worked out well for Brad, but no so much for me.

At the outset we decided to limit ourselves to 30 minutes. After roaming around Home Sense for 15 minutes and finding nothing more than a decorative twitter-like bird, I began to panic. Luckily we were at a mall, so I fled from Winners and began my mad trek for something Brad would enjoy that was under $5.

BlackSite Area 51As I turned the corner from Winners, EB Games appeared like a ray of light. I saw the “Used Games” bin by the door and knew this was the place I would find a suitable gift for Brad. More panic seized me as I became overwhelmed by the huge selection of games to sort through in less than 10 minutes. Fortunately, there weren’t a lot of games for $5 and I was able to narrow it down to 3: a table tennis game, a Superman game, and a game called Blacksite: Area 51. I knew all of the games were probably rejects and wondered if the cashier would laugh at my choice when I got to the counter, but figured the one with aliens and fighting would be the least pathetic. Thankfully there was no laughing, at least not in front of my face. The question was, would Brad laugh in my face?

I trotted back to our meeting spot and we revealed our presents once back in the car. I was really proud that I thought of going to a video game store and was beaming with pride. I handed over the bag that contained my present and Brad immediately began laughing. I had managed to buy a video game that he had never even heard of. Go figure.

I really enjoyed this game of sorts. I like how it forces you to get creative and really think about the other person’s interests. I also like how it proves that you don’t have to spend much money to have a good time. It’s the thought that counts.


When we were setting the rules for our five dollar shopping spree, we had trouble agreeing on where we should shop. Susan thought we should limit it to one store, and I thought it would be good to have the option to roam the whole mall. We decided to stick to one store, but would allow for other options in case of emergency. In a surprising turn of events, I ended up being the one who stayed in one store, while Susan needed backup.

Before we stepped foot in a store, we laid down a few ground rules. Spending five dollars each was to be more of a guideline. If we spent six or seven it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The other thing we did was set a time limit and a meeting place. We were to meet at the bench outside of Winners in thirty minutes.

NotepadI was very surprised at how many fun things I found around the five dollar price point that I thought Susan would enjoy. I was expecting to struggle to find even one thing. In the end I had to decide between two options. One was a decorated clipboard with a note pad attached, the other was a compact notepad with a tiny pen included that she could keep in her purse. Susan loves making lists. In fact, I think she sometimes makes lists of the lists she has to make. So I knew that she would enjoy either one of these cheap finds. Since I could only choose one, I went for convenience and portability and bought the smaller (and closer to five dollars) notepad.

As we approached the reveal of our gifts, I was fairly confident Susan would like what I bought. The only thing left to do was to make sure I reacted appropriately to whatever she bought me.

I failed in this task.

I had a funny feeling she would at least look in EB Games for my gift. I did not think she would actually find a semi-current video game for five dollars. At first glance, I thought I had never heard of the game she bought me, but the more I thought about it the more it seemed familiar. Unfortunately, I got a bad case of the giggles when I saw what she purchased. It wasn’t so much that I thought the game was going to be terrible (while it’s not great, it’s actually surprisingly not terrible) it was the mental picture of her rummaging through stacks of heavily discounted games, frantically trying to think of the best choice. It struck me funny. In hindsight I probably should have kept the laughter to myself. Thankfully I redeemed my reaction to her gift by giving her a gift she really liked.

I think this is a fantastic thing to do. It’s a great way to get out of the house and have fun without spending a lot of money. Though you do have to split up to do the shopping, coming together to unveil the gifts makes up for it. I would totally recommend anyone try this out. Set your own rules as far as budget, time limit, and locations are concerned and have some fun.

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