From the Vault: Target’s Gift Card Gallery

December 12, 2011 - Article reads in
Gift Card Gallery

Can’t find the perfect gift? Unsure of what to give a new friend or in-law? Gift cards do the trick – they are the ultimate crowd-pleaser. But in the retail world, not all cards are created equal.

At Target, gift cards are more than just plain pieces of plastic. They are symbols of design, innovation and, of course, the holiday season. Target GiftCards do much more than swipe and buy. Some are presents themselves, like a MP3 player, camera and a mini Xylophone. Featuring a constantly changing roster of novel designs, some GiftCards are even patented! In fact, Target holds more than 100 patents on the ideas, concepts and technology behind cutting-edge cards.

Since first introducing GiftCards in 1999, Target has become one of the world’s largest issuers of gift cards, with more than 2,000 different card designs. The first sustainable gift cards – made from PHA, which is 100 percent biodegradable and compostable – also came from Target. Playful new cards are unveiled each year to celebrate special occasions, personal interests or just to say thank you. Take a look at our top 30 favorites from the past thirteen years.


1999 – Every card had a barcode rather than the more traditional magnetic stripe, providing more options for shapes, textures and sizes, allowing Target to design more compelling, unique cards.

2003 – An early example of an unexpectedly fun lenticular card, the Gerber Daisy actually appears to “wink” when you move it.

2004 – Target’s first edible GiftCard. Yummy.

2004 – The nation’s first card to use heat-sensitive technology that changes with body temperature – remember mood rings? This card is irresistibly touchable.

2004 – SpongeBob was Target’s first card to come with activated sound.

2004 – The first generation of 3-D cards were patented, including this cute game where you help Bullseye find his bone!

2005 – This card was the 2005 top seller, so the scratch-and-sniff banana GiftCard was anything but monkey business.

2005 – Spreading some love to teachers out there. This was one of the first cards made from wood.

2006 – A great pampering gift for anyone, complete with bath salts by Kaori Hang.

2006 – This was embedded with seeds to start your own wild flower garden.

2006 – One of the top selling cards of all time, it has been reissued on many occasions. Target has printed this card featuring Jell-O gigglers four times more than the average card.

2006 - The image on this card was printed directly onto a felt surface – just like any poker table would be.

2006 – One of the earliest recordable GiftCards that could record a personalized message.

2006 – This iconic Santa Claus illustrated by Anna Chambers is combined with an unexpected use of technology common in the medical industry that makes Santa inflate.

2006 – An example of a dual use card. Not just a gift card but also a MP3 player, which can be used every day.

2006 – An example of design thinking outside the box – literally. Inspired by crank machines at a bowling alley, this frog’s sticky tongue extends outward to grab a prize.

2006 – Illustration is based on an actual handmade sock monkey created by the sister of a Target team member. The finger holes were added to increase the fun, and it went on to get a patent.

2007 – A mini piano came complete with color-coded instructions to create your own music.

2007 - This card was truly illuminating.

2007 – This cute holiday beaver was illustrated by David Sheldon of “Ren and Stimpy” fame.

2007 – Like any of Target’s “toy” gift cards, this Transformer went through rigorous product testing before becoming an official GiftCard.

2008 – The most technologically advanced GiftCard to date.

2008 – From the brains behind Target’s Product Design and Development team, this card featured three holiday songs with a rockabilly feel: “Deck the Halls,” “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

2008 – One of the iconic Santa Claus cards illustrated by Anna Chambers.

2009 – A GiftCard shaped like a wedge of Swiss cheese acts as the wireless remote control for a cart driven by Santa Mouse. The cart zooms forward and backward at the touch of a button on the card.

2010 – A fun retro-inspired toy for your inner child.

2011 - First introduced in 2010, the Lego Bullseye card was a huge hit. He makes a grand return for the 2011 Christmas season.

2011 – Feeling musical? Test out your skills on this mini xylophone complete with sound.

2011 – Target first introduced new technology in 2009 that allowed guests to purchase and redeem gift cards on their mobile device. Two years later, mobile GiftCards are easier than ever to buy and use.


Find your GiftCard at!

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