I can’t believe that we will be saying farewell to our son as he leaves for basic training. His recent decision to serve our country came no surprise to us. We honestly knew in our hearts this was something he has wanted to do for a while, and a decision that came so easy for him. It’s hard to believe we are here at this point celebrating his entry into the United States Navy. But perhaps even harder to believe, is his transition to becoming a young man. This called for a celebration gathering friends and family together to say our farewells and provide him with words of encouragement for his decision. We are proud of his decision and the man he has become. We will always cherish the wonderful memories we made and shared together as a whole family.
Farewell Party Planning Tips
Preparing for a farewell send off party can be a very emotional and overwhelming time for family because I know it was for me. I am however thankful that I had this party because I wanted to let my son know how appreciative we are of him serving our country and I wanted everyone the opportunity to say their farewells. Here are some tips that you may find helpful when preparing for your son or daughter’s farewell party before they leave for boot camp:
Date and Time
Decide on the date and time. I decided to have the farewell party a few months before my son left for boot camp. In some cases the departure date can change and move up so it is best to plan accordingly. Also, I think that if I had waited closer to his departure date, I would probably have been less likely to stay focused with party details because of my emotions and anxiety. We decided to have it on a Sunday from 4-7 and this seemed to be a great time for everyone’s attendance.
Send out invitations at least four weeks in advance for the farewell party and make sure to have them RSVP so you know how many to expect. You may want to send everyone a few gentle reminders as you are getting closer to the party date. I personally took extra time to design and create the invitations myself. Putting that extra thought and time into the invitations will really mean a lot to your son or daughter.
Food and Drinks
Once you know how many guests will be attending the farewell party, you can plan for the party food and drinks. Depending on the time of day that your party is will determine the type of food served. We went with a BBQ themed dinner and had everyone bring our son’s favorite dishes. Keeping the food theme simple and delegating family and friends to help is totally okay. Make sure to have a list of suggested food items for family and friends to bring because they will ask.
Red, white and blue decorations and balloons are perfect for the special occasion and work for any branch of military service. For the Navy, we added navy beans for the table’s center piece and purchased nautical confetti to sprinkle onto the tables. For the Army and Marines, you could select a camouflage theme. For the Air Force, you can add a pop of silver.
Hire a photographer to take lots of photos of your son or daughter’s farewell party. You will be too busy hosting the party, mingling and will not think to take photos. You will want really good photos of your son or daughter with all the family and friends together. You can print these photos for them to take with them to basic training or you can send them in letters each week once they arrive.
Have a notebook handy for family and friends to write down their mailing addresses. While your son or daughter may be too busy or tired to send too many letters, having these addresses handy for him or her will definitely help. Also, they will need to have the addresses for those who will be attending graduation day and require a special graduation pass.
You want your son or daughter to receive encouraging notes and letters from family and friends while away. Have a stack of postcards and pens available so guests can write a short note of support and best wishes. Once you know the mailing address at Basic Training, you can address the cards and send them out a few at a time each week. They will really enjoy reading these during Boot Camp. It will encourage them to remain positive and strong during a very difficult and scary time for them.
Sharing Encouraging Words
One thing that I think our son really enjoyed is when everyone had the opportunity to get up and speak a few encouraging words to him and share some of their favorite memories or past times. Hearing everyone around the room sharing these stories, brought tears of joy and happiness.
A farewell party with family and friends is a very special time and wonderful memory everyone can share together. Just thinking of our son’s very noble and courageous decision brings me pure joy. Planning for this party was a great diversion for me through the tears. Be sure to enjoy these last few days or weeks with your son or daughter before they head off to Basic Training!