Homecomings come with a mix of emotions. In the weeks leading up to your servicemember’s return, you may experience excitement, anxiety, joy, stress, and everything in between.
There can be an immense amount of pressure to make it perfect. But, remember this: the most important thing is to stay true to your own relationship, keep calm, and celebrate!
After all, you know your servicemember best. Plan a homecoming that aligns with your servicemember’s personality and needs. With that said, here are some ideas to get the gears turning.
Before you Pinterest-search the perfect outfit or dust off the craft box to make a sign, ask your servicemember how they want the homecoming to go. It can be an overwhelming experience, so ensuring your spouse is comfortable with the plan can kick off the reintegration process smoothly. Some desire big parties with family and friends, while others prefer a quiet night back home.
Your Military Member might have a preference in regards to hiring a photographer (whether a friend or a professional) to capture the moment. If your spouse is okay with commemorating the moment with photos, make sure you discuss details in advance. The reunions can happen quickly! Many of the seasoned professionals know to put their camera on “burst” mode so they don’t miss the moment. It’s also wise to discuss what types of shots you want, so your friend or professional photographer has some direction prior to the big day.
Preparing for life after deployment can be challenging and will look different for every servicemember. One fun way to kick off the reintegration process is to work with your spouse to create a homecoming bucket list. Whether it’s dinner at a favorite restaurant, a trip to the zoo, or a weekend getaway, checking off items as you complete them makes for an entertaining homecoming game. For MilSpouses with kids, consider hiring a babysitter a couple of days after the homecoming so you can have a night alone with your spouse, and maybe even check off some of those bucket list items!
Another tip? Ask your servicemember what food items you should have in the fridge prior to arrival. There’s nothing like a little taste of home after months or years away.
To best prepare for life after deployment, start with our mini pre-homecoming checklist of questions:
- How do you want the homecoming to go? Do you want a big party with family and friends or a quiet night in?
- Are there particular family members or friends you’d like to prioritize seeing first?
- Any preference on your first meal back home? Would you like to dine in or out?
- What items would you like in the fridge or pantry?
- What types of toiletries or clothing items do you need?
- Are there any homecoming “bucket list’ items you want to complete?
- How can I best help you once you’ve returned?
For those of you whose servicemembers don’t mind a little celebration on the day of, there are plenty of ways to celebrate a homecoming.
Many MilSpouses opt to make signs and decorate for their servicemember’s homecoming. A few ideas include:
- Poster board with a creative saying or personalized message (add light-up stars or string lights to make it pop!)
- Write a message with window paint on your car’s windows
- Wear a shirt with a “welcome home” message (MilSpouses with newborns can choose a unique homecoming onesie)
- Place balloons and signs in the front yard
- Hang a banner on the garage
- Write messages on the sidewalk
In addition to any decorations you wish to display, another popular homecoming idea is the “Homecoming Basket,” comprised of your servicemember’s favorite snacks, fresh toiletries, and homemade goods.
Some MilSpouses also like to keep journals or write little notes throughout deployment to share with their servicemember when they return. Create “Thoughts in a Jar” by stashing small slips of paper with memories and notes inside a mason jar to read during the reintegration period. Although you might be excited to know what they think about your notes, don’t expect them to read through these on your schedule. It’s best to let servicemembers acclimate at their own pace.
Wanting to find the perfect look for homecoming day is not uncommon. It’s natural to want to feel confident and cleaned up for this long awaited reunion. Just remember, at the end of the day, there’s no need to overthink the wardrobe — your spouse will be excited to see YOU, not your outfit.
While it may be tempting to use this as an opportunity to mix up your style, whatever you decide to choose, make sure it suits your personality and comfort level. You want your servicemember to be able to recognize you instantly rather than be distracted by a vibrant dye job or complete change of style.
One popular go-to? The casual dress. It’s cute, comfy, and easy to dress up or down. Depending on how formal of a look you want, pair it with either boots, sandals, heels or wedges. Add some of your favorite jewelry staples and a small purse or clutch and you’re ready to go!
Other tips for choosing an outfit include:
- Be comfortable
- Bring flats (even if you decide to wear heels, bring a pair of flats in case the wait for their flight arrival ends up being longer)
- Choose no-wrinkle items
- Keep it classy
Remember, no matter how many cookies you bake, balloons you inflate, or hours you spend choosing the perfect outfit, the point of a homecoming is to celebrate your spouse’s reunion. Don’t let all the little details get in the way of that.