9 Unique Ways to Celebrate Military Milestones

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This post is sponsored by Nomades. All opinions and work are my own.

I am that person.

I am that obnoxious celebration person. I love holidays. I love non-holidays. When John and I were dating, I made us celebrate our monthly anniversary. And when John didn’t really care about his birthday (or that’s what he said, anyway), I over-the-top celebrated it until he did care about it. (Or at least until he told me he cared about it.)

For the Super Bowl, I habitually buy too much food. John and I have a “Friday Lunch Buddies” date at the end of every week to celebrate the end of the week. And when John was in the military, I made sure that we celebrated the milestones in that journey too.

When John was deployed, I celebrated by sending him a halfway there box. We’ve gone out to dinner to celebrate, stayed in to celebrate, visited places on our bucketlist to celebrate.

I used to be a tiny bit embarrassed by how much I love celebrating and commemorating milestones… but honestly? Now, I don’t care anymore. The truth is, life is too short and it’s too beautiful and it’s too wonderful to drag through it.

Life's too short. Celebrate all of the moments. #military #milspouse #milso

1. Photobooks

How often do photos just stay in phones or on Facebook? Get them out of your phone and onto the page so you can remember that promotion ceremony or your first home or that duty station you just left. Photobooks are also wonderful ways to share moments that your spouse misses during deployments and trainings or with family members who are far away.

2. Bullet journaling

It’s tough to keep a daily journal, especially in such a fast-paced world. But if you want to keep track of important memories, achievements, and moments in your family’s military life, consider bullet journaling. You can use any journal, but there are also specific bullet journals like these. Just date and write a few lines to immortalize the beginning of deployment, the first time your child got an ID card, or that time you finally got over your fear of the base gates. (Oh, that’s just me? Okay.)

3. Flowers

So often women wait for their partners to buy them flowers to celebrate something… and if your husband or wife is in Afghanistan or on a ship or out of comms, you might not get flowers for some time. So, buy them for yourself! Mark the 100th day of deployment, a promotion at work, or just making it to Friday.

“But Jo, flowers are expensive!” You don’t need to buy yourself a gigantic spray that rivals the huge ones that end up in five-star hotel (although, if you can and if you want to, go for it. I won’t stop you). Grab a pretty bouquet from a grocery store– they can run between $7 and $15. If you’re going super cheap, stop by an Aldi–they have flowers available for sale for $3.99. (And if you hit it on the right day, the price may even drop to $1.99.) And, you can always stop by a florist to pick up just a single rose or a few daisies.

Enjoy the process of buying them for yourself; get exactly what you want, smell the flowers, decide between colors. Drop them into a pretty vase–maybe that one from your wedding you hardly use– and put it somewhere you’ll see multiple times every day.

4. Charm bracelet

When John and I married, I bought myself a bracelet to add charms to throughout our life together. I thought it would be a fun and meaningful way to celebrate milestones both big and small, personal and military. I have a bead that represents our wedding, one that represents our first move… and then I found Nomades.

The Nomades Collection helps women tell their military journey stories with jewelry that is so perfect for military life, it’s crazy. (And no, I’m not just saying that.) They were founded by four military spouses who wanted jewelry that celebrated things that happen to milspouses. They have pieces like this one.  Yes, that is a PCS sticker. You know, like the ones that you find all over your furniture for the next…FOREVER. (I mean… could one of those tags look any cuter?)


Or like this one which is perfect for commemorating a deployment or a long separation.

They have charms for every branch (and yes, Coast Guard, too!) and for nearly every installation. You can also find charms to commemorate units, rates, and all kinds of other things that you literally won’t find anywhere else.

6. Set up an email

Create a Google email and send emails, pictures, and links of all of the important things going on in your life as they happen. At retirement or when your spouse transitions out, use it as a virtual time capsule and enjoy reminiscing over years of memories.

7. Create a memory box

Grab a $4 photo-safe box from Michael’s. Every year, drop the ticket stubs, cards, programs, and other tokens of your life in the military into the box. Label each box by year to keep everything organized (if the boxes aren’t full, you can always have each box represent multiple years). This is easier than a scrapbook and it doesn’t require pasting things into books. (Unless you love scrapbooking! Then by all means, get down with your crafty self!)

8. Event jar

Grab a mason jar and a stack of paper or small index cards. (These can work too!) Every time something happens–whether it’s a promotion or a move or a graduation–and write a sentence about it. Date the paper, and then stick it in the jar. At the end of the year, spend time with your family reading through all of the exciting moments that happened throughout the year. Then save and label the jar or paste the strips into a scrapbook to save them for later.

Life's too short. Celebrate all of the moments. #military #milspouse #milso

9. Home decor

John and I have a habit of collecting pieces of art from the places we love. We did the same thing with each base we lived at, so now we have pottery and wall hangings that remind us of the places that will always be part of our story. I’m not talking about really expensive stuff– these were pieces that we bought from street fairs and boutiques that weren’t outrageously expensive.

Another option–which I love, too–is having installation boards that you continue to add to as you move from place to place. Those boards can also represent family changes–like new kids and pets–as well as deployments and TDYs.

11 Responses

  1. I’m not sure how but I have never heard of The Nomades Collection! But I believe I will own one now! What an awesome way to celebrate these last 22 years of military life!!

  2. We also like to collect home decor from places we’ve been stationed!
    I have one Nomades charm from the squadron my husband was in when we got married (HSL-37 in Kaneohe Bay, HI). I love the “Bonds of Friendship” charm – a beautiful way to remember all the friends we’ve made & moved away from.

  3. I love these ideas. We are going through our first deployment and I love reading the different things you did.

  4. I love this! I’m a young college student and the bracelet is a great way for me to have keepsakes since I don’t have a house to keep things in!

  5. I can’t wait to had the red and green chile pepper charm to my Nomades story!

  6. I love nomads, I haven’t yet purchased from them but I love their catalog! My hubby and a I are going through our first deployment together right now and I’ve enjoyed making the care packages and photo albums and collecting things along the way of our military life. It makes it a lot easier and fun!

  7. I am so excited to start a Nomades collection! The first one I’m going to get will definitely be the postcard because my boy is overseas right now and I’ve been writing letters like they’re going out of style recently.

  8. Just started my journey as a spouse, how lovely is this! Would have to start with the MCRD PI yellow footprints and then add a 29P charm.

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