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My brother-in-law is in the army and in the years that I have known him, he has deployed… a lot. He has done two tours in Afghanistan, one in Korea and another in Iraq. When he’s gone, it’s usually for around a year at a time and my sister (his wife) is always looking for ways to make his life as normal as possible while he’s gone. She pours her heart into mailed birthday cakes, packages with goodies for all of the soldiers… my cousin even had her 2nd grade class make Valentines for all of the guys in his area.
Holidays are a really hard time for her to be without him, but they’re especially hard for him being overseas. Between the different time zones and lack of a Christmas tree, there’s just something that’s not the same about celebrating together over Skype. A few months ago, my sister decided she really wanted to do something special to welcome him home this time and so… the Year in a Day party was born. A year in a day… say what? That’s right and it was the most fun idea!
We spent months planning who would cook which holiday food and how we were going to decorate our tables. Pulling off the holidays one at a time is a task as it is, but trying to do all of them at once? That’s another story! On top of it all, trying to keep it a surprise from him was just as difficult.
We all dressed up as our favorite holiday and made signs to welcome him home. He was certain that he was going to a birthday party for my husband, but was surprised to see us all waiting for him when he arrived. Even though it was 100 degrees outside in the middle of August, it really felt like we were getting to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, welcoming in the New Year, celebrating his birthday and even decorating cookies for Christmas all at once.
The craziest part is that when we started building out this idea, we didn’t find anything online! These days you pretty much get all of your ideas from Pinterest, so we were really on our own to create an original idea. So, if you want to welcome your soldier home and celebrate all of the holidays in one day… here’s how you do it.
Select your favorite holidays and plan a table for each one. These ideas you can find on Pinterest since you can search for “Valentine’s Day Party Decorations” or “Thanksgiving decor“. It’s more fun and a lot better for your budget, if you split up tables among friends and family. Most often people will have a holiday that they have a lot of decor for already and they’ll love getting to be part of all of the fun. We also had each person who was decorating a table bring a centerpiece for one of the tables people would be sitting at.
Here’s a look at some of our tables.
Shameless plug: My husband and I sell the “Give Thanks” mason jars on Etsy if you’re looking for home decor for Fall! 🙂
Request a custom designed invitation. Because this idea can’t really be found online, that also means there are not any invitations out there to order. We worked with C. Lacey Design and were very happy with her work!
Figure out your menu. Holidays are the time that we cook the most food and if you were to cook every holiday food that you usually do, you’d be able to feed a small army, so narrow it down to your favorites. For example, for Easter we prepared ham, corn, deviled eggs and jello eggs, while making turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese and green beans for Thanksgiving. Then for other holidays like Valentine’s Day we just baked pink cupcakes and heart shaped brownies. Here again, we split up the menu between friends and family to make things easier on our wallets.
Have alternative plans. We were lucky that the party fell just 3 days before my husband’s birthday, so we had a reason for us to all be getting together. Plus, my sister has such a hard time keeping things from her husband, so if she ever slipped up about a party, we were still in the clear! 🙂 She even created a fake invitation and put it on the fridge to make it more believable.
Have kids and family make posters. Because we didn’t all get to be at the airport when he arrived, my sister thought it would be fun for us to all be waiting for him when he arrived with “welcome home” posters. He was so touched and so excited to see all of his closest friends and family ready to celebrate with him.
There you have it… a year in a day party! Let me tell you, you get all the feels and you get really full! 🙂 I wish you the best of luck welcoming your soldier home!
C’est la vie,