Chances are if your loved one is deployed at this very moment you have a deployment countdown calendar on your refrigerator or hung up on your wall in a prominent location. The process of marking down the days until homecoming can be tedious and tiring. However once you hit "Halfway Night" (aka the middle of a deployment) it is time to celebrate!
Here are four top ways to celebrate Halfway Night:
1. Throw a Party
At our previous sea commands this night was a big tradition and I was always amazed at the creativity and thoughtfulness involved. Traditionally, the senior spouses with a few deployments under their belts planned the evening. If this something new to your command, take the opportunity to help plan a party and recruit your fellow command spouses. You can make this just a section party or involve the entire unit/command. The key to the party is to start the planning early and involve your senior spouses. Trust me, they are the ones that will be able to coordinate with the command at sea or in theater for special touches like the following:
2. Make a Video
Making a video isn’t as hard as you might think. The key to the success of the video is to coordinate its creation with your Commanding Officer, Division Officer or Senior Enlisted leaders spouse (I know I sound like a broken record). Set up a couple of different times to film a video to get as much participation as possible. Bring the video camera to a couple Family Readiness Group meetings or luncheons. You can get creative with skits if you like, or just keep it to “I miss you and love you” messages similar to ones you see on American Forces Network. Your CO’s or Senior NCO’s spouse can then ask the command to also make a video. This video from your loved ones will be the highlight of the party. At our halfway night parties before everyone left for the evening we would all gather around a TV or computer screen and wait anxiously to watch the “Video from the Boat”. I’ve seen the RSVP list triple once word got out we had a video from the boat.
3. Create a Place Setting Card using a Recent Photo
Have each spouse participating submit a photo that can be sent out to the unit along with your video. You can also coordinate a recent photo be sent from the deployed loved ones. You can then place these photos in a frame and use them as place setting cards at the dinner. Adding a photo to each place setting is a very inexpensive, but thoughtful touch to set the tone for the evening.
4. Create a Message in the Bottle
A handwritten note by our loved one in this age of emails and texting can be extra special. When coordinating the video, and recent photos, include a request for a handwritten note from the service member to his / her significant other. Create a “message in a bottle” craft to place on top of each dinner place setting. Visit your local craft store for the necessary supplies: small bottle with cork top and sand. Place the handwritten note in the bottle with sand at the bottom. This added detail will surely become a treasured keepsake of the deployment.
What are your ideas to creating a special halfway night party?
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