How to plan the perfect armed forces party

Military-themed parties occur for a number of reasons, from a soldier getting married to someone returning home from being deployed, even a major accomplishment in someone’s military career. The key to a civilian planning an armed forces party is one word: respect. Our soldiers like to have fun, but not at the expense of themselves or their brothers and sisters in the military. Let’s talk about the most important party you can throw for an armed forces member in your life: the ‘welcome home’ party.


Welcome home


When we know a loved one is going to be coming home from being deployed, it’s natural to want to celebrate. You want them to know that everyone is happy to have them back. You want to celebrate the fact that they made it home at all, because there’s always the chance that they might not. Let’s give them a relaxing celebration among friends and family.




For a low-key ‘welcome home’ party, there are many different options on websites like Etsy that feature hand-made cards in different designs, and hand-made will not only last, but be pretty memorable to guests – great for adding to a scrapbook at a later date. If you’d like to try your hand at making some yourself, experiment with card stock and different types of heavier-weight paper.


Try these ideas:

  • Union Jack on white card stock, with blue and red card stock (or speciality papers) layered on to give the flag some texture and depth. Party information goes on the back.
  • A door with a welcome mat or ‘welcome home’ wreath. Open the door for the party date, location, time, and other relevant information.
  • A ‘welcome home’ banner with the invitation written on the back.
  • A picture of the returning loved one that says “[S/He]’s coming home!” and contains the party information inside the card or on the back of the picture.




Fruit and vegetable trays are an absolute must to help hold guests off before the meal (and provide munching after). Use a mixture of red, white, and blue fruits – cherries, strawberries, bananas, lychee fruit, blueberries, etc. – for your fruit tray. Bowls of snack mix using red, white, and blue candies will satisfy those who prefer something a little salty and crunchy over fruit.


Your loved one’s favourite food(s) would be well worthwhile to serve at such a party, simply because it’s probably been a while since they’ve had that item and they’re looking forward to it. Comfort foods may not seem like party fare, but this is a special event for your loved one.


Small jars of candies can be given out before everyone leaves, either for any children in attendance or as a drive-home pick-me-up. You can’t go wrong with cupcakes, layered desserts, or food on a stick. In fact, food on a stick is really popular at parties because it’s so portable – no need to sit down and eat! Grab what you want and mingle.




Decorations are where you can really pull out all the stops. Decorate the door with a wreath made of vines (grape vine or otherwise woody-looking specimen) or flexible twigs, peppered with splashes of red, white, and blue throughout. A big ribbon and a flag, or a lovely ‘welcome home’ plaque, complete the image.


Place settings don’t have to be expensive, especially not if you’re taking the meal outdoors. Disposable cups and plates come in all sorts of colours and can be coordinated to the decor, making post-party clean-up a snap. There’s no need to waste time you could be spending with your loved one cleaning dishes now, is there?


Blank spiral-bound notebooks can be purchased and filled out by the family, decorated with scrapbook favours, and presented to the returning soldier at the party. What to fill those notebooks with? “365 Things I Am Grateful For”, “365 Things I Love Most About My [Returning Family Member]”, the choice is yours. Make it personal. For children, something shorter may be better. You can make your own notebooks out of whatever papers or card stock you like, punch holes in each page, and tie them together with ribbon, too.





Keep your music upbeat and not too loud, depending upon what your loved one’s duties were. If you know what their preferred music styles are, perhaps that would be a good way to go. You can’t go wrong with a Karaoke gig, either! Karaoke gives your loved one a chance to take a break from the socialization so that they can rest up a bit.


What ideas have you used in the past, or have your friends used before?




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