After I was in Winning for a Living and High Stakes Sweepers, I got a lot of hateful and derogatory comments with regard to the fact I took my daughter’s PIN Code Hunting.

Let me take a step back and explain what a PIN Code is and what Hunting is. A PIN is the Personal Identification Number Code found in bottle caps, package wrappers, etc. Hunting is my word for one method of finding PIN Codes.

Companies do not sponsor contests, sweepstakes, or giveaways out of the goodness of their hearts. They do it to make sales. Plain and simple. To encourage sales, companies host PIN code-based contests. There are three ways you can obtain PIN codes to enter these types of promotions:

1) buy the product.

We must support the sponsor if we want them to continue hosting contests which is why, if within my budget, I buy at least one item to obtain a code to enter.

2) utilize the no-purchase entry option (NPE).

I then read the rules and find out what the NPE option is. Companies usually request you mail in your contact details with a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). More frequently, I find they are requesting you also include a unique, handwritten, 25-500 word essay. This is also a healthy option because there is only so much chocolate, soft drinks, etc., that you should consume.

3) and using codes others have thrown away.

I wrote about PIN Code Hunting in my newsletter in 2007.

Maggie of Kitchener, ON sent in this tip that prompted me to finally take action on an idea I’ve had for quite a while.

My best tip is when entering the bar and PIN codes get family and friends to help! At least once a week, a friend drops off a wrapper or a cap for me. Since I am at home and have more time than they do to enter, they give me their codes. Also, check the recycle bins for bar codes and bottle caps!!

What action did I finally take? I went on a PIN code hunt! In the book The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio, Dortha takes Evelyn to the city dump to get “qualies” (Qualifiers such as labels, box tops, UPCs, etc.) I am not that ambitious, but every week I pass many product containers with PIN Codes on them in blue bins on recycle day and think to myself, “Look at all those winning opportunities just being thrown away!” – I finally went out on three streets (took my daughter out on two – she thought it was fun) and came back with 9 Pepsi PINs and 9 Coke PINs. This may become a regular adventure! Now, let’s see if we win anything!!

Hunting never did become a regular adventure. The timing isn’t right. The weather is terrible. I am not in the mood. I have dozens of excuses for not going out. Plus, the only company in Canada with PIN codes right now is Coca-Cola, so a walk around the block doesn’t net one very many winning opportunities.

That said, I want to share an entertaining PIN code-hunting adventure I had with my best friend Janet. In the summer of 2011, I won tickets to the Blue Rodeo concert down at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto. After the concert, I noticed the ground and lawn were littered with pop bottles, and all of them had codes. I told Janet not to question what I was doing and just follow my lead. As we left the theatre, every time I passed a coded bottle, I picked it up, unscrewed the cap, and stuffed it into my pocket. Janet did the same. We were getting odd looks, but we didn’t care as we were laughing so hard. Near the exit, I grabbed an almost full water bottle to rinse off our sticky hands. In the end, we netted almost 40 caps, and we still talk about that fun-filled evening. (Sadly, they now keep the caps if you buy soda at the concert venue, so you can’t do this anymore.)

Finally, I want to address taking my daughter’s PIN Code hunting on TV. Lane has only gone PIN Code Hunting with me a grand total of three times. Two of those were for television. She just wanted to be just like mom. It’s fun, so why wouldn’t I take her?

What crazy fun contest adventures do you do as a family?