There are a number of different ways you can celebrate your husband’s homecoming from a long deployment. You might go on a date night, you might go on a vacation, or you could throw a party. Whatever you do, you want to be sure that it will fit with your husband’s likes.
Deployment is a very mixed situation. Sometimes there is going to be little change between the man who left and the man who comes home; sometimes he’ll be vastly different. So maybe the surprise party is a good idea, maybe it isn’t. You’ve got to test the waters before you make in-depth plans. Don’t just go with the first idea that seems good. That said, it’s good to do something special for him on his return.
One: Friends And Family
He may, or may not, want to see those to whom you as a couple are closest. If he does, then it’s likely a good idea to invite all of your closest friends, as well as the family members with whom neither of you are on the outs, and schedule something a week or so after he gets back. He’ll want some time to unwind and just vegetate for a moment. Then he’ll likely get antsy and want to go do something.
When he’s getting back to normalcy, that’s the time for the party. He’ll be at his ease and so will you. In fact there will be a slight tinge of excitement in the air, hopefully. Sometimes return from deployment isn’t a happy affair, and that’s another reason to plan strategically. He’s a military man—he should understand strategy!
At the party, you may present him with a challenge coin as a sort of individualized badge of honor. There are some exceptional coins out there; one producer is Embleholics, who makes custom challenge coins; according to the site: “We have a long track record of faithfully reproducing coins and adhering to the in-depth details of your organization’s logos, symbols, emblems, or other key imagery.”
In the military, a challenge coin is often presented as a badge of honor. Giving this to him on his coming-home party can in a way demonstrate your respect of his career, and dedication to standing by him.
One thing that characterizes many homecomings is a desire to really live. Whether to overcome a traumatic event, and fill the mind with better things, or whether to maximize time with loved ones, many homecoming veterans are interested in things of the bucket-list variety. Again, this isn’t true of everyone; but for many, doing a themed-party around something crazy could be just the thing.
How much of an outdoorsman is he? Maybe go white-water rafting as a group; let that be the centerpiece of your party. Perhaps an extended camping trip is worthwhile. Are you near a beach? Maybe have a bonfire! But give him a little say. Consult him before he comes home and, again, test the waters. Determine the best entertainment, and produce it.
A party with some food and drinks, nice music, cards and/or conversation is fine. But it’s also nice for there to be some third alternative, whether it be swimming, hiking, gaming, or what-have-you.
He’s just been in a secondary society full of command-centered men who give and follow orders. He may be a bit bossy himself, but one thing he won’t want is to be held to some itinerary. He’ll like structure in his life, but at some point he’s going to want things open-ended.
Again, he’ll likely get sick of that and seek routine again eventually. But at a party, he probably won’t want to be pushed around through a dozen different activities you’ve designed. Have friends and family available, maybe honor him a little bit specifically; but don’t make it like some military mission. Let things flow together naturally.
The final bit of advice to help your party go the way you want it is to enjoy yourself. Don’t get stressed with little things. Take it easy, and enjoy the festivities. He’ll be more at his ease if you are.