Helping with the Holiday Shopping

| November 30, 2009 | 0 Comments

gingerbread house‘Tis the season when parents everywhere are searching and scrambling for the latest and greatest to surprise their children under the tree.  YOU can help ease some of that stress!

Every year I was coaching full-time I would get a few emails from parents asking where we bought our rifles or what size flags we used because they wanted to buy one for their child as a Christmas present.  A few years ago I decided to put together a general email with all this information early in the holiday season and send it to my parents-only email list!

The result?  A lot of happy parents who were grateful I went the extra mile to try to help even when not asked.  Even those who weren’t going to buy guard-related gifts appreciated the gesture.

I included the “standard” details:


  • where we purchase our show rifles (with website link/phone number)
  • length
  • colors, materials of strap, bolt, endpads
  • information about weight
  • cost

For these I usually recommended they buy the same color the team used in case the student wanted to use their own rifle as their show rifle.  Often my students would request to use their own rifle because they became accustomed to it’s particular weight and feel.


  • same as above (don’t forget those website links and phone numbers!)
  • and a recommendation for a specific brand/style to match our competition style

For sabers I usually also included some advice on not allowing students to rehearse unsupervised or without proper instruction… I recommended that they only purchase these if the student has already begun to receive training at school or if they would be joining the saber line during the current season. You might consider adding the same cautions for rifles as well.


  • same as above
  • material of pole
  • color of pole we use
  • Sizes of flags we use
  • preferred vendors

For flag poles I usually suggested that students get a different color than the poles we used at the school in order to avoid mix-up.  We always had enough poles at school for our show and rehearsal needs and the weights on poles are so consistent that there should be no reason a student would request to use their own pole (vs. a school pole) like they might for rifles where weight varies quite a bit.  So my thoughts were to recommend a different color from the school pole to avoid the pole being inadvertantly handed in with the end-of-season inventory.


I also included some extras I thought they might find fun (with links to recommended sites of course)!

  • Personal Equipment Bags (lots of my parents also like to order these early and take them to the local mall which has an embroidery store to have them personalized)
  • rehearsal gloves
  • WGI instructional videos
  • WGI competition videos
  • A link to a guard-jewelry or guard t-shirt vendor site (there are lots of them linked from our web links section).
  • Anything new that year that struck my fancy!

In addition to these things – it would be a good idea to alert parents regarding the need for rifles and sabers to be taped!  Let them know to throw a couple rolls of electrical tape, strapping tape, etc. along with our handy rifle taping worksheet in the stocking and to have those screwdrivers nearby!

They’re sure to appreciate the time you put into helping them with their shopping and your students will surely be thrilled to practice at home with their very own equipment!  It’s a win-win situation!

Happy Holidays and Happy Spinning!

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Category: For Fun!, Team Management, Volunteer Management

About the Author (Author Profile)

Catina Anderson is the founder/editor of the Colorguard Educators blog. Color guard has been part of her life for almost 25 years. She began coaching in 1994 and worked with the Broad Run High School color guard in Northern VA from 1998 until 2010. She has also written for Halftime Magazine and served on the Executive Board of the Atlantic Indoor Association. A former teacher, she enjoys sharing what she has learned and hopes to encourage others to share as well. Together we can create even more positive experiences for performers and help to collectively strengthen marching arts activities worldwide.

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