One of the challenges of deployment as a spouse is finding a creative way to express how much you miss your servicemember. Of course you’re going to send a care package filled with a bunch of goodies, but that’s pretty much expected. You, being the super spouse that you are, want to do something that is unique and will keep them smiling until the next expression of love arrives. And with the holidays right around the corner, anything that makes that box extra special is definitely worth the time and effort. Well, here are some suggestions that I’ve come up with, with some help from the guys over at MANning the Homefront:
10. Celebrate Your Anniversary
Anniversary coming up and you can’t celebrate in your normal romantic fashion? Do the next best thing….celebrate by yourself! Ladies, put on that beautiful dress that makes his face light up like a teenage boy on prom night. Guys, dust off that nice shirt that’s been in the back of the closet while you’ve opted for t-shirts and football jerseys. Take some nice pictures to show your spouse that even though they are far away, you are still celebrating your love for each other. If you normally get (or for the fellas, give) flowers, be sure to take a picture holding that special bouquet.
9. It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time
If your spouse is anything like mine, they absolutely love Girl Scout cookies. In my house, we typically have to place separate orders because we don’t like to share! Order their favorite kind so they don’t miss out on those extra pounds that we all look forward to gaining each year from those awesome cookies! For bonus points, send a few extra boxes for them to share with their friends. If you are reading this during the time of year when we are all just dying for those little sweeties to knock on our door asking for orders, substitute GS Cookies with any other favorite food… but still send the extras!
8. Strike up the Band
Does your spouse have a favorite local band? Ask them to do a special video tribute. You compensate them for their time with some money (which no local band could possibly have enough of!) and they help you with a personalized token of your love. Everybody wins!
7. Create a Website
Have a spouse who loves social networking and surfing the internet? Purchase their name as a website. Then, find some creative reason to convince them to Google their name or navigate to the site. Me, I’d tell my wife that someone stole a bunch of pictures from her Facebook page and created a website pretending to be her! I know it sounds crazy, but I could get her to believe it! Fill the website with your declaration of love and other things they would find special. Perfect for a birthday surprise and the cost is minimal. Note: Remember Personal Security (PERSEC) and never post information that could lead someone to your home or children on a public site.
6. Make It Personal
Take advantage of the thousands of fun options that the website Fiverr has to offer. Starting at $5, you can get a great personalized gift. The ideas range from funny personalized videos to audio messages delivered in her favorite cartoon voice. My wife loved the cartoon I had created from a picture of our family (you can see it here) and it’s something that she can keep for years to come.
5. Star in Your Very Own Home Makeover Show
Take on a project that your spouse was interested in completing, but didn’t have the time. Something like redecorating the bedroom or adding the final touches to his garage or man-cave might be a good idea. This may be risky for some, but with great risk comes great reward! All you need is proper planning, creative conversations about what they like, and the help of those closest to them. Just think of the look on their face when they see a photo journal of the transformation from a typical duty station space to something comparable to the work of a home makeover show!
4. Create a scrapbook
Traditional scrapbooks require a lot of colorful paper, glue and if you’re like my wife, a Cricut machine. A digital photo book can save you time and still give you the look and feel of a homemade scrapbook! You can even get a 5×7 book sent for free to deployed servicemembers through the USO’s partnership with RocketLife. I love books that show your relationship through the years or pictures with the kids.
3. Make a Movie
Create a video shout out from all the people they care about. Getting emails and letters are great, but nothing beats the emotion of seeing people on video. If family and friends aren’t close by, ask them to send you a video of them expressing their support for that special servicemember. Any humor they can add will make the video even more entertaining.
2. Set up a Private Photo Blog
No, not that kind of private photo! I mean private as in only your spouse will be able to log in and see the blog. I use this so that I can take pictures of the little things that we do throughout the day that my wife would find interesting. I use blogger.com and even have the iPhone app so that I can update it on the go. My wife loves the fact that she can log on each day to read the stories and see the pictures. This helps her feel connected to our daily lives.
1. Create a Past, Present and Future Box
Now this shouldn’t be anything big. Remember, they don’t have a lot of space for extra stuff. This could be as small as an index card box. Your goal is to find small things that will bring about happy memories of your past, present, and future. Pictures and other small trinkets work great. You can include some kind of memento from where you had your first date or maybe even your first duty station together. Throw in some things that remind them of home and the current duty station. Then top it off with something like pictures of what you both envisioned that retirement house to look like. The only limit is your creativity.
Thousands of miles from home, mail call is something that all servicemembers look forward to. It’s not just a box that you’re sending; it’s a symbol of your support. Even if I’m just sending my wife a box full of toiletries that she desperately needs, I make sure to add something special, like a picture our daughter drew at daycare. So, no matter how creative or how commonplace you may think your idea is, there is only one thing that truly matters to your deployed spouse – the fact that you took the time out to express your love and support.
Article by: Dee Young, Army Spouse
(photo credits: Photo Pin and Dee Young)
Dee Young is a proud Army spouse of 6 years with two beautiful girls. He currently volunteers as the FRG (Family Readiness Group) Co-leader for his wife’s unit and works at the local military hospital. Dee is also a team member of MANning the Homefront, a group for male military spouses. You can check out more of his journey at RealLifeRoland.blogspot.com