Let me let you in on a secret... there is no possible way to have a fairytale homecoming.
I know, I know, this is not what you wanted to hear. But it's the honest-to-God truth. You can prepare. You can anticipate. You can enlist help. And still, things will not go exactly as you planned.
The best you can do is focus on the only thing that matters: Your soldier is HOME. Absolutely nothing else matters. Not what you wear, not what photographer you choose, not the welcome home festivities. I'm not saying those aren't great things to strive for. Plus, it's fun to plan! But don't pin all your hopes on that list of things you "think" you need for a great homecoming. I can promise you this, all those trappings will fade into the background the second you see your soldier step off the plane.
We all know we're going to do those things anyway. It doesn't matter how many people tell you not to stress it, you're going to.
I did. And you probably will too. It's ok, you're among friends here.
With that in mind, I think one of the coolest things to prepare in advance is a final "care package" for your returning soldier. This isn't an ordinary care package, because you won't be putting it in the mail. Instead, this present will be waiting for your spouse (or girlfriend, or boyfriend, or whoever) when they walk through the doors of home for the first time in a long time.
What's in this care package? Well, I'm going to give you some ideas, of course!
|Welcome home "care package" for the Hubs|
The best part about this package is it's easy to personalize for your soldier. I'll give you some standard ideas, but really let your imagination run wild. The basic principle goes like so: Fill this basket (or bucket, or whatever vessel you choose) with everything your soldier either couldn't have during deployment, or with special treats you know he will appreciate.
Here's what I did:
(Fair Warning: I'll start with all the good girl stuff, but don't be surprised if this gets a little naughty later!)
1. Fresh Food - one of the biggest things the Hubs missed during deployment was fresh fruit and vegetables.
While the troops do get some fruit, there isn't a whole lot of variety and the freshness is debatable. Also, depending on location, fruit deliveries may be few and far between. Many of the men (or women) develop stomach issues while overseas because of the erratic diet and the consumption of MREs. Combat this on their return with natural, yummy goodness.
2. Chocolate - this one is good for sweet fanatics especially. After a certain time of year, chocolate can melt in a care package and is therefore not recommended for shipping. Add a supply of your significant other's favorite treats to this welcome home goodie basket.
3. "In the Fridge" (or freezer) - These would include items that require refrigeration or freezer time. Obviously, you don't want to place these directly in the gift basket, peeps! Instead, create a fun note or card you can place within the basket that directs your hubs (or wifey) to the fridge:
These were some of the items I had chilling for the Hubs. His favorite ice cream, and his favorite dinner (it's always a good idea to make a few freezer meals in advance of homecoming so you don't need to worry overmuch about cooking those first few days. You can find the Hubs' favorite dinner here, Zuppa Toscana). My soldier also has a particular weakness for freezer pops. I have to call them freezer pops because the Hubs makes fun when I call them Chilly Willies! Am I the only one who does that??
For these, I tied a few unfrozen ones with ribbon and a note (all red, white, and blue, of course!), and the rest were already frozen and waiting for him.
4. Bacon (and other pork products) - This was also on my "in the fridge" list. For many soldiers, pork products are prohibited in care packages because of the laws in their deployed location. This can be something your spouse will especially miss! For the Hubs, I had two packages of bacon in the fridge, and a summer sausage in his basket.
5. Alcohol - Definitely a restricted item overseas and in care packages. This can be on your fridge list, or be in the basket. It can be beer, wine, or hard liquor. If you want to be really creative, you can create a mini liquor bottle bouquet.
Try this link for an easy, DIY tutorial for your own bouquet: DIY Booze Bouquet. (There isn't a picture of mine because I ran out of time and it was a massive failure. Don't be like me!)
6. New Clothes - It's tempting to go overboard with this one, especially if you're a shopper. Your soldier hasn't had the opportunity to wear civilian clothes in a very long time.
There is a BUT in here though... Keep in mind that your spouse has likely either lost or gained weight (probably lost). Also, many of the men use deployment as an opportunity to lift weights and bulk up, so clothes may not fit the same as you remember. If you want to purchase clothing, go for a new shirt or maybe even underwear/socks.
7. Personal Perks - These would be items individual to your spouse. For example, my Hubs LOVES movies, so I included one in his basket.
Although I could easily mail movies in other care packages, he really appreciated the thought. Plus, a movie in the basket is also a great way to spend an evening at home relaxing. Pick items that your spouse would appreciate and suit your relationship.
8. From the Kids - Get your children involved with the homecoming by letting them create artwork or poems or cards for Dad/Mom. Perhaps let them decorate your basket. A special note or a homemade treat from the children can go a long way.
9. Sleepy Time - This category can consist of such varied things. For me, I know the Hubs slept less and not as well as at home during his deployment. Good sleep can come few and far between. Some ideas for this category are blackout curtains for your bedroom, sleep masks, or even misting sprays like these:
10. Sexy Time - There will be no pictures here, hahaha. You'll just have to use your imagination! I'll add that lingerie, magazines, etc. make great basket gifts for this. Another fun idea would be professional boudoir photographs, perhaps a framed one for the basket. Stay within your comfort zone, and that of your spouse, and have fun!
So peeps, what are your ideas for a welcome home basket? You know I'd love to hear from you! I hope you have a great time creating your own goodie basket, but don't forget the most important thing:
Your soldier is home!!!
Happy homecoming, my friends. Enjoy every second of it.
Thanks for reading, everyone!