Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re getting ready for a homecoming…or dreaming about one in the future. Homecomings are a lot of pressure. First the emotional and mental strain everyone involved has been under. (Deployment brain is totally a real thing!)
Military homecomings are romanticized by the media, by our own community and by our own imaginations.
If you could only have seen what I dreamed homecoming to be while my husband was deployed. It could have been set to the theme song of Gone With the Wind and I looked a million times prettier and skinnier than I ever have in real life. I was super confident and wasn’t sweaty and gross after 9 hours of travel in a car without AC and John wasn’t tired or hungry or dirty after 2 days of travel.
Obviously that’s not how our homecoming happened. It was one of the best days of my life. But it went all wrong even after a lot of meticulous planning and a lot of nervousness for a very long time.
I’ve come to a conclusion: when it comes to homecoming, less is more.
The best laid plans will certainly have a big, ol’ monkey wrench thrown in them and the surprise party that you want to throw will get thwarted.
Here are 5 KISS ways to still celebrate and keep your service member’s homecoming simple:
1. Don’t Overthink Your Homecoming Outfit
I know you’re rolling your eyes right now. I can hear you from where you’re reading. But hear me out. For my husband’s homecoming, I totally freaked out about the homecoming outfit. You’re looking at the girl who bought 4 different homecoming outfits and then…wore an outfit I already owned.
And this is what I learned from hyperventilating at LOFT and then later having to return 4 perfectly beautiful outfits: your clothing is secondary.
Of course you want to look and feel your best. Of course you don’t want to wear something that hasn’t been laundered for two weeks. But chances are? Your loved one isn’t going to remember what you’re wearing. He or she isn’t going to care—because they’re coming home and they’re excited to see you, not the pumps you agonized over or the statement necklace that might be a tiny bit too clunky for your style.
2. Hunt on Pinterest
And while we’re talking about outfits, spend a little time on Pinterest. Not to freak out about how your homecoming has to be the most perfect thing EVER, but Pinterest can be a great place to go if you’re not feeling all that creative and you need to feel reassured.
Case in point: this homecoming outfit board is great for inspiration and proves that jeans can look classy and chic.
3. Go Out for Dinner
Don’t worry about cooking a homemade feast during the first day of homecoming. You won’t lose your spouse status if your family hits a restaurant and lets someone else do the prep, cooking and clean-up. I promise.
Make the homemade apple pie tomorrow. Tonight, just be a really happy family that can’t stop looking at each other.
4. Skip the Homecoming Sign
When John came home, I spent hours agonizing over a sign. When I got the airport I realized that not a single other person had a sign. No one. Having never been to a homecoming before, I had just assumed it was the status quo… but it wasn’t. At least not for my husband’s command.
If you want to make a sign or a banner for your house, consider having it made for you by a sign shop if you don’t think you can take it on. BuildaSign.com even offers free banners and jumbo cards for military homecomings. And if you don’t want to make a sign or banner, that’s cool too.
5. Do a Little Retail Therapy
Put together a little welcome home basket. Add your loved one’s favorite toiletries, snacks and other items that might have gotten worn out or need to be replaced after a tough deployment (undershirts and underwear, I’m looking at you!).
And of course, a beer or bottle of wine tucked into the basket can’t hurt either. Add in a card or letter from you and set it somewhere it will be seen and appreciated—perhaps their dresser or their side of the bathroom sink.