The best way to celebrate a loved one's return from a long time away is with a welcome home party. Surrounding a person with love and joy is the perfect homecoming message. Who wouldn't want to enjoy that feeling of being with friends and family?
How to Prepare
Prepare for a welcome home party by thinking about the situation in which your guest of honor has been detained. For instance, is this for a soldier coming home from active duty, an anniversary couple returning from a long cruise or a family who has been displaced in a hotel room until repairs have been finished on their house? Each scenario can play a huge factor on the type of party you throw.
Invitations, decorations, refreshments and even presents can make your welcome home party a success. But, do be mindful of the guest of honor's situation, and tone down the celebration where applicable, such as in the event of a long trip where the guest of honor may be tired and in need of much-deserved rest. In general, the welcome home party shouldn't go over two hours.
A welcome home party is more of an intimate affair where only those who are close to the honoree should be invited. This makes the honoree feel more comfortable with being the center of attention, especially in the case of a surprise party. A welcome home party is more meaningful when it is attended by loved ones and well-known friends.
Sending Out Invitations
The thing about a welcome home party is that sometimes you know the exact date to expect the honoree and other times you do not. Someone returning from an extended vacation or business trip will more than likely know the exact date of their arrival. Military personnel often times have a target date, but they may hit or miss it by a few days. Be sure that the people you invite to the party are aware of these circumstances, and can clear their calendar for a few days to accommodate the actual arrival. Send invitations out at least two to three weeks in advance of the party.
Decorating for the Event
Decorations should include balloons, streamers and banners. If there is a particular theme that you can draw from the honoree's recent experience, then this would be a good idea. In this case you could come up with a color theme for the tablecloth, utensils and paper goods. There is probably no need to go to extremes on decorating for the event because it is the smiling faces that will really warm the hearts of the honoree.
You can generally find "Welcome Home" decorations at party supply stores in your area and on the Internet. You can also consider making a banner yourself by using your computer and printer or purchasing a roll of banner paper from a crafts supply store. If you make your own banner, you may want to add photos or handprints to give to the guest of honor as a party favor.
Refreshments to Serve
Take note of the honoree's favorite foods, and make sure these items are on your food list. Finger foods are usually a good idea for a welcome home party because they are easy for guests to pick up, and it makes clean up easier for you. You can make tasty sandwiches cut into quarters for a serving idea. Cold cut platters are also a popular menu item for "Welcome Home" parties. They give the guests a variety to choose from and cut down on your workload as well. Serve sodas and water in bottles that are kept in a cooler. These are easy to throw away or place in a recycle bin, and guests will have a choice of their beverage preference.
A cake, of course, is a big hit at any party. Judge how big the cake needs to be by the number of guests attending. Try to make the theme of the cake match the honoree's situation. Returning from a cruise would prompt having a plastic ship on the cake. Returning from active duty in the armed forces might prompt plastic Army men situated atop. Use your imagination, and make the cake a memorable part of the day. Don't forget to take pictures of the cake before it is cut.
Make sure that you are not leaving a mess behind for the honoree to have to clean up. The goal of the party is to welcome this person or family home, and make it comfortable for them. You also want to be able to spend time with the guest of honor instead of preparing for, hosting and cleaning up after the party. Consider serving refreshments on paper plates and in plastic cups. This will make your job of cleaning up simple. You can find designer paper products at your grocery store or a local party supply store. Also be sure to recruit a few guests to help you with the clean-up.
Keeping a marriage happy and healthy requires kindness, compromise and attention. A few surprises along the way doesn't hurt either! The next time your husband returns home from a tiring and stressful business trip, welcome him home with one of these romantic ways to let him know his absence was not only noticed, but made you eagerly awaiting his return.