For a recent get-together, I was trying to think of something fun for our group of women shooters to do. Of course, there’s always shooting! And, as we’ve done in years past, we did decide to have another gun-cleaning party. But we also decided to try something a little new and different based on a fun and popular holiday favorite: a gift exchange … with morale patches!
It’s no wonder that morale patches have been an important element in military culture for generations. They commemorate the long hours, demanding conditions and endless sacrifices of countless brave men and women and the branches, units and conflicts in which those men and women have served. But there are also men and women who collect and display these embroidered, vibrant, full-color and vinyl creations. I have seen a lot of different patches in the gun community — on jackets, vests, hats, bags and backpacks. Morale patches are a fun way to share what you do, where you have been, what you like and even who you are as a person. The selections — and the possibilities — are seemingly endless! And we decided morale patches would be the perfect focus for our gift exchange.
So, what is a morale patch gift swap? A morale patch gift swap is a fun way to get together and celebrate with like-minded friends. Similar to a more typical gift exchange, the goal of the event is to entertain party-goers and send everyone home with a unique and fun gift item … and some unique and fun memories!
And how, exactly, does it work? A month in advance of the party, each participant was instructed to purchase and wrap a gift consisting of one morale patch. We set the price between $4 and $9, specified a Velcro-backed patch and instructed the ladies to not select anything with obscenities or gross themes. (There are some very provocative and scandalous styles out there, and we just wanted everyone to pick something that she would like, be proud to wear and even choose for herself!)
Once at the party, the nine of us set our wrapped gifts on a table for everyone to “ooh” and “ahh” over a bit. After some food, fun and fellowship, we each picked out a random present and sat in a big circle around the table. You can go the more traditional route by doing an anonymous swap or by picking names or numbers out of a hat. But we chose to use a silly story that included the words “left” and “right.” Every time a “left” or “right” was uttered, we passed the gifts that direction until we reached the end of the story and opened our presents. (You could also incorporate strategy, guessing, swapping and stealing, more like the popular “white elephant” party, if you want to. Use whatever rules you choose and play however you’d like. Just make sure everyone ends up with a gift other than her own.)
We had some really fun morale patches at our gift exchange, from sci-fi and apocalyptic to patriotic and “tacti-cute,” and everyone enjoyed the much-anticipated activity. Of course, your tribe can hold a gift exchange at any time — to enjoy holidays, to start off the New Year, to recognize a birthday or anniversary, or just to celebrate whatever you choose! It’s a fun excuse to get together and add some morale to your range bag … and to your life.