How to Put Together a Welcome Home Party: 14 Steps (with Pictures) (2024)

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1Planning the Event

2Preparing the Location

3Enjoying the Party

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Article Summary

Co-authored byDiana Dorsey

Last Updated: January 6, 2023References

If someone you know has been away from home for a long time, you might want to celebrate their return with a special event. Whether they were travelling for work or pleasure, away for college, deployed with the military, or living overseas, a welcome home party can be a great way to show your friend or loved one they were missed.

Part 1

Part 1 of 3:

Planning the Event

  1. 1

    Keep the guest of honor in mind as you plan the gathering. Plan a party you know they will enjoy, whether that’s a large or small gathering, an informal shindig or a formal sit-down dinner. Also consider how long they’ve been gone, and why they were traveling: someone who has been away for months or years, or was away for military service, may need more time to rest and adjust before they’re ready to celebrate.

  2. 2

    Select a date about a week after the guest of honor gets back. This will give them time to rest and unpack. Consider what day of the week and time of day will be good for all your guests, but be particularly sure it is convenient for your guest of honor.[1]

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  3. 3

    Choose a location that will be right for your party. An informal get-together will probably work best at a home, whether yours or the guest of honor’s. For a larger or more formal affair, you may want to reserve space at a restaurant or rental hall. Weigh the cost involved in reserving space elsewhere with the work involved in preparing for a party in one’s home.[2]

    • You must first create your guests list so that you know how many guests to plan for. Once you have determined your guests list, it will be easier to start looking for a venue that can accommodate your guests count.
  4. 4

    Invite the guests 1-3 weeks before the party. The method you use to invite guests should be determined by the formality of the party: a larger affair or a sit-down dinner suggests printed invitations or perhaps an evite. A call, text, or social media message is fine for more casual gatherings.[3]

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  1. 1

    Choose a theme for your party based on your guest’s travels. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with simple balloons or flowers to make a space feel festive, a welcome-home party is a great opportunity to plan and decorate according to a theme. You can use your party’s food, drinks, and decorations to commemorate where your guest of honor has been, or the hometown or state to which they’ve returned.

  2. 2

    Decorate with your guest’s travels in mind. Photographs and mementos or their trip make great decorations, but don’t ask the honoree to go to too much trouble for a party in their honor.

    • Check out travel magazines and search the internet for ideas and inspiration about the culture, famous destinations, and natural features of the places they’ve been visiting. Look for old maps, postcards, or other materials you can re-purpose.
    • For returning college students, look for pennants or flags, as well as and other decorations, in the school colors of their new university. Incorporate the college’s mascot or motto into invitations or banners. If the university has a fight song, play it as your guest arrives. [4]
    • If your guest of honor is a military service member returning home from deployment, patriotic decorations are an easy and impactful choice. Red, white, and blue balloons, banners, and tableware, American flags, and patriotic music can all help express your pride and appreciation for their service.
  3. 3

    Let your hometown inspire your decorations. Celebrate the home to which your guest is returning in a way that will be meaningful to them. The skyline of your city, or the outline of your home state, can make a great visual motif to welcome anyone home. Think about a map of the Bay Area on the invitations, a Texas-shaped cake, or a Chicago skyline in washi tape along a wall or fence.

    • Incorporate your guest’s favorite things about your hometown or state into your decorations. You might wish to include local sports teams’ colors or logos, nearby attractions, or regional features like beaches, mountains, forests, or lakes.
  4. 4

    Serve a variety of drinks. Offer a choice of non-alcoholic drinks, such as water, soda, coffee, and lemonade. If you are also serving alcohol, have at least three or four choices of beer, wine, or co*cktails.

    • Offer local beers or regional wines from your hometown or state to welcome your guest back home.
    • Or, provide drinks that commemorate the places they’ve visited: tea from Japan or England, wine from France or South America, beer from Australia.
    • Consider mixing up a festive bowl of punch (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), especially if your guest has been visiting a tropical locale.
  5. 5

    Serve a selection of finger foods. A great party “spread” has something for everyone to enjoy, so offer a variety of snacks. Solid standby choices include chips and dip, small sandwiches or “sliders,” or a fruit and vegetable or cheese and cracker tray.[5] Or, you can personalize the refreshments to your guest of honor and their travels.

    • To commemorate your guest of honor’s return home, serve local or regional specialties, whether that’s New York-style pizza or Cincinnati chili, Tex-Mex or crab cakes.
    • Offer a few dishes from the locations your guest has been visiting, if you can. Don’t try to prepare new-to-you dishes that are complex or challenging: keep it simple, or have it catered.

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Part 3

Part 3 of 3:

Enjoying the Party

  1. 1

    Welcome the guest of honor home. You may want to say a few words when they arrive, invite your guests to welcome them with applause, or simply provide time for everyone to greet the honoree individually.

  2. 2

    Create a “selfie wall.” Get the fun of a photobooth with a fraction of the effort. Concentrate some of your decorations (balloons, signs, maps, pictures, you name it) in one space, such as a blank wall or fence. Invite guests to take photos: of themselves and each other, and especially with the guest of honor.[6]

    • Encourage them to share their selfies and other party pictures by creating a hashtag for the party on social media, or create a group or shareable photo album online.
  3. 3

    Make a book of “welcome home” messages. Buy a blank book, or provide paper and pens for your guests to write messages welcoming back your guest of honor. These messages can be collected in an album with photos, or incorporated into a number of DIY projects to make a keepsake, similar to a wedding guest book.[7]

    • Maps, globes, and printed photographs with messages would all make appropriate mementos for the honoree's return home.
  4. 4

    Wrap the party up after two or three hours. Ideally, everyone present should have a chance to welcome and catch up with the guest of honor, but be sure the event doesn’t last so long that he or she is tired out. This is especially true if the honoree has just arrived home a few days ago, or was gone for a long time.

  5. 5

    Make sure the honoree doesn’t have to clean up at the end. If the party is held at the guest of honor’s home, arrange for family or friends to clean up after the event. A line of empty cans and a stack of dirty dishes in the sink would be a poor way to welcome back your friend or loved one.

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Expert Q&A

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  • Question

    How do you plan a playlist for a party?

    Diana Dorsey
    Wedding & Event Planner

    Diana Dorsey is a Certified Event Planner and the Owner of Simply Elegant. With over 11 years of experience curating hundreds of events, she specializes in leveraging her attention to detail and people skills to help her clients enjoy planning an event that goes above and beyond. She prides herself on making the planning and day-of experience pleasant for both her clients and vendors. Diana earned a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Phoenix.

    Diana Dorsey

    Wedding & Event Planner

    Expert Answer

    It is a great idea to separate your playlist by categories. For example, create one playlist for receiving guests, one for the meal time, one for the dance floor, etc. To create a playlist, browse the songs you like, and simply add them to each playlist. If you are simply using your playlist instead of a DJ, connect your device to a set of speakers and just press play.

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  • Question

    How do I put together a welcome home party for someone being released from prison?

    How to Put Together a Welcome Home Party: 14 Steps (with Pictures) (17)

    Community Answer

    Focus on positives. Don’t focus on the fact they’ve been in prison, but celebrate things they enjoyed before.

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    Thank you for your feedback.
    If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even $1 helps us in our mission.Support wikiHow

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  • Question

    Won't the person coming home be tired after their trip?

    How to Put Together a Welcome Home Party: 14 Steps (with Pictures) (18)

    Community Answer

    They might be, in which case you could choose to plan a party a few days after they come home. That might be a good idea especially if the person is coming home late.

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    Thank you for your feedback.
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      About this article

      How to Put Together a Welcome Home Party: 14 Steps (with Pictures) (32)

      Co-authored by:

      Diana Dorsey

      Wedding & Event Planner

      This article was co-authored by Diana Dorsey. Diana Dorsey is a Certified Event Planner and the Owner of Simply Elegant. With over 11 years of experience curating hundreds of events, she specializes in leveraging her attention to detail and people skills to help her clients enjoy planning an event that goes above and beyond. She prides herself on making the planning and day-of experience pleasant for both her clients and vendors. Diana earned a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Phoenix. This article has been viewed 56,307 times.

      3 votes - 100%

      Co-authors: 13

      Updated: January 6, 2023

      Views:56,307

      Article SummaryX

      As you make plans for a friend's or loved one's homecoming, keep the preferences and personality of the guest of honor in mind. Set the date of the party at least a week after the honoree returns to allow some time to unpack and rest. Salute the honoree's time away by incorporating their trip into the party's theme. For example, you can serve food or drinks from the country they’ve returned from, or choose decorations related to their trip like maps, photos, or flags. For some ideas for how the party guests can welcome the honoree back, scroll down!

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      Reader Success Stories

      • How to Put Together a Welcome Home Party: 14 Steps (with Pictures) (33)

        Kota Fugi

        Jul 16, 2017

        "It helped me because my parents are coming home from a wedding. I want to make them happy, so I want to throw a..." more

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