Missionary farewell parties can be bittersweet events. Most people are sad to see their friend or loved one leave, but are proud of them and their mission’s purpose at the same time. If you are planning one of these types of send-off affairs, choose appropriate decorations, activities, food and gifts.
No matter what religious sect your missionary is from, remember that the main party focus should be on the guest of honor, rather than elaborate or expensive decorations. You can keep this type of event light and simple, and hold it at the church or at your home. Many people decorate with colorful balloons and streamers, as well as make going-away signs. Incorporate important religious symbols if that fits your missionary’s style and spirituality choices. Some people place several different photos of the guest of honor around the event space. If your missionary wants a lighthearted event, consider throwing a theme party around where he will be going. For example, if his mission is in Mexico, throw a Mexican-themed event with sombreros, Mexican blankets and mariachi music.
Missionaries often leave their home bases for at least a year, so you’ll want your farewell party to include some memorable games and activities. First and foremost, make sure someone takes lots of photos of the guest of honor with his friends and family. Some missionaries want to use their send-off event to make a mark on their home community. These types of activities may include planting a tree or painting a community mural as a group. If your guest of honor loves music, consider renting a karaoke machine for the party.
While the food at a missionary farewell party is not as important as spending time with the guest of honor, the menu planning should not be overlooked. Many people serve the missionary’s favorite comfort foods, foods that he will not have access to for quite some time. These types of food may include baked macaroni and cheese, apple pie or pizza. Be sure to ask him about his favorite foods before the party. Some parties feature food from the distant location he’ll be serving. This way, everyone gets to experience a taste of the foreign land that will be the missionary’s home away from home.
There are many types of gifts appropriate for a missionary farewell party. Most missionaries will need a rain poncho and umbrella, so give your guest of honor a handy, fold-up version that saves space. Women missionaries might enjoy a small, simple cross necklace or pin. Another creative gift idea is to give the missionary laminated photos of his loved ones, pets and friends. He’ll be sharing stories about his life and family, so give him copies that are protected from the elements. Do not give the missionary expensive items that will make him a target for local thieves. These types of items include CD players, iPods and expensive jewelry.