Want a challenge? Try Google for “how to host a coffee” or “what is a military spouse coffee”. What you’ll find is an array of military spouse coffee mugs. You’ve found no man’s land. No one even knows where to start. These military social events are not as scary as you might think. Even if you don’t like coffee you should still attend because chances are coffee won’t even be involved. The point of this military custom is camaraderie.
According to The Army Wife Handbook by Ann Crosley today’s military coffees serve a dual purpose:
- They provide the wives of the unit an opportunity to become acquainted in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. The friendships that result form the basis for an informal support system.
- Coffees held on a regular basis give the coffee group an opportunity to exchange information about upcoming events in the unit and community.
That sounds simple enough. But what happens when you’re the one that they call on to host? You’ll need a plan!
Find a “Battle Buddy”
Every member of the group customarily takes a turn at hosting and co-hosting is most definitely encouraged!
Update Your Roster
This is one of the most important things to do before sending out your invitation. Make sure you have everyone’s contact information.
Choose a Time, Date, and Location
Most coffee groups choose to meet at the same time each month – ie the first Tuesday. Choose a good time. Usually evenings around 6:30pm is good. Most coffee groups are small enough that you can utilize the space in which you’re living as a gathering place. It doesn’t matter if it is small and people have to sit on the floor – that’s part of the fun!
Send Out Your Invitations
A good rule of thumb is two weeks prior to the event, even if it is reoccurring. Decide if your invitations will be regular mail, email, or through computer invitation services like evite.com. (specify date, time, location, dress, rsvp, and any cost associated with the event)
Set a Menu
This is where you can have fun with a theme or simply serve your favorite snacks & dessert. Typically tea, coffee, or other beverages are served with light fare. Your group will set the tone as to whether or not wine or other alcoholic beverages are appropriate. Some easy theme ideas are Mexican fiesta, soup & salad, potluck, just desserts, or holiday themes.
It’s always a good idea to provide nametags. It helps in remembering and learning names. If you’re coffee is with a few newcomers offering up an ice breaker is always an easy way to put them at ease.
Typically the host will provide a small gift to give away as a door prize. This can be something purchased at a retailer, something homemade or baked, or even a houseplant.
Customarily your coffee group will have a leader, usually a senior spouse, who will distribute information and update the group on community happenings. Allow time in your plans for this to take place.
Dues & Farewell Gifts
This is up to the individual groups. Some groups choose to establish a coffee group fund and have a treasurer who oversees the monies. Others simply pay only to purchase their farewell gifts. Discuss with your group as to their wishes.
Let’s face it, the pomp and circumstance and customs and courtesies of the military are what make it the military. We wouldn’t want to lose that wonderful tradition. Lest we need not get caught up in the red tape of it all and forget to have fun! The camaraderie of others on the same journey is priceless. So go, have “coffee”, and have fun doing it – you never know you might find your best friend!