Military homecomings are the culmination of weeks and months spent worrying about your service member followed by a sigh of relief that he or she is finally home. Indeed, it is a special occasion for military families. The moment your wife, husband, child, or friend walks up to you through the crowd is in and of itself a memorable point in time for both of you. The only thing that can sweeten the feeling of being reunited are thoughtful homecoming surprises for your service member.
As you rejoice in having your loved one back on U.S. soil, continue the welcome home experience by making your service member’s return extra special with these ideas.
Make a Sign
The classic way to welcome your service member home is with a sign! It’ll be one of the first things he or she sees as they step off the plane or ship. Welcome home signs are also a great way to show your personality or add in some humor to the occasion. Check out these sign ideas for inspiration.
You’ve been separated for a long time and of course you want to look and feel your best when your loved one first lays eyes on you. There’s no shortage of military homecoming-themed ideas on Pinterest – if ever there was an occasion to be patriotic, this is it. If you’re bringing children with you, be sure to coordinate your outfits for maximum effect.
Keep these tips in mind when planning what your ensemble: Wear something you feel good in, but make sure it’s comfortable as you might be waiting for hours when schedules inevitably change. So, maybe leave those stilettos you haven’t worn in years at home. Not sure if your outfit is too revealing? Don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want your spouse’s commanding officer to see. And, don’t stress too much over what you’ll wear because, at the end of the day, your service member will just be happy to see you!
Decorate the Yard
Put a sign in your front yard saying “Welcome Home!” and dress up your walkway with balloons or American flags. You can even hang streamers or lights from your porch for an added effect.
Leave a Note
Write a note each day your service member is deployed about how much they mean to you or what you love about them, and drop it in a jar for them to read at their leisure when they get home.
Start a Bucket List
Ask your service member what his or her bucket list is when they return home and help them fulfill it!
Create a Gift Basket
Stock up on his or her preferences from beer and wine to candy and snacks to toiletries – they’ll be thrilled to have their favorites already on hand.
Was your loved one away during any major holidays? Leave a special gift for him or her to open when they return home, or recapture the essence of the holiday by having a mock Christmas morning, Thanksgiving lunch, or Valentine’s Day date.
Bring the Spa Home
After a long deployment, there’s nothing like soaking in a hot bath in your own home. Plus, this can do wonders for relieving stress. Make this a luxury experience by preparing a bath kit filled with bath bombs, essential oils, luxurious soaps, and lotions.
Throw a Party
Chances are, you’re not the only person who missed your service member while they were away. Throw a welcome home party so that everyone has the opportunity to celebrate and say hello. Take it up a notch by giving the party a theme like USA (everything red, white, and blue) or something related to their branch of service. Just make sure to ask your service member in advance when they want to have people over – some want to reconnect right away while others need a few days to decompress before socializing.
Plan a Date Night
Homecomings are all about reconnecting and spending time together. Plan a special date night to rekindle the romance. Get inspired with these date night ideas.
No matter what you decide to do to celebrate a military homecoming, be sure to put your phone down and be present in the moment. You might be tempted to immediately post pictures and update your status, but take this time to enjoy each other’s company – Facebook can wait.
Kristen Baker-Geczy is a communications specialist, active duty military spouse, and former MWR marketing coordinator. She was also deployed to Southwest Asia as an Air Force contractor.
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