10 Ideas for a Celebration of Life
Picture this, someone in your life has just passed away and it’s time for the funeral service. Chances are, you spend the morning getting ready. You change into a suit or dress, mentally prepare yourself, and then head to the funeral home for the service. When you arrive, you offer condolences to the deceased’s family. Perhaps you mingle for a few minutes, and then you head into the chapel. As the service begins, stories are shared, hymns are sung, and prayers are said. As you look around, you likely see friends and family members overwhelmed with sadness. People are crying and filled with grief. Afterwards, there’s a reception and people share some memories of the deceased and talk about how beautiful the service was.
That’s one way to honor a loved one. But what if you could make it more personal? What if it was less about saying goodbye and more about celebrating a life well lived?
In recent years, more and more families have begun to hold celebration of life services. Instead of a traditional funeral service, families want to personalize the service to reflect the things the deceased enjoyed during their life. It can include their favorite foods or music. Some families decorate the venue with memorabilia from their loved one’s favorite sports team. Others transform the service into a casual party. The possibilities are truly endless. Some people even have rules that there is to be no crying at the celebration.
If, you’re interested in planning a celebration of life to honor your loved one, check out our 10 celebration of life ideas below for inspiration. Just as each person is unique, each celebration of life service is personal and unique as well. As you explore ideas for a service, consider what the deceased would enjoy, but also what the attendees will enjoy and what will meet their emotional and spiritual needs.
We have provided a few ideas, but this list is by no means complete. Use these ideas as a starting point to plan the perfect service to suit your unique needs.
10 Meaningful Celebration of Life Ideas
Planning a meaningful celebration of life doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many ways to incorporate the things that made your loved one unique into their service. Our celebration of life ideas below offers several unique ways to make the service special for everyone in attendance. Please keep in mind, these are strictly ideas you can plan and in no way, are services offered by our firm.
Cards and board games are a great way to bring people together for hours of laughter and endless fun. If your loved one was the type of person who loved to spend time playing games, make that a part of their celebration of life. Set up a few different board games, cards or other table games around the venue and encourage guests to spend time playing games together. During the games, your guests can share memories of the deceased with each other. If you want to get really creative, set up Jenga blocks and ask guests to write a memory on each piece when they remove it from the tower. Afterwards, the deceased’s family will have a game filled with memories of their loved one.
If your loved one enjoyed travelling, make it a part of the celebration. For this idea, set up a large map of the world and pin each of the places your loved one visited. On a table in front, lay out pictures of the deceased from their various trips. You can even encourage guests ahead of time to bring any souvenirs the deceased picked up during their travels and have them placed on the table alongside the photos.
Did your loved one have a green thumb? If so, make sure to include their love of gardening as a part of the celebration of life. Instead of the traditional flowers that people use to decorate, consider bringing in any potted plants that your loved one cared for. If your loved one was cremated, you could mix in a spoonful of their ashes into some of the plants soil. At the end of the service, pass out plant seeds to all the guests. When they return home, they can plant the seeds in honor of the deceased.
The Memory Capsule
A great way to help the family long after the service has ended is to create a memory capsule. For this idea, invite guests to bring small items like photographs, cards, books, letters, and other little mementos. As guests add their item into the airtight capsule, they can share the memory with everyone in attendance. Afterwards, the family can choose to bury the capsule or lock it away. On the first anniversary of the deceased’s passing, the family can open the capsule and revisit all of the memories shared.
The Charitable Person
Was your loved one a caring and charitable person? If so, you could organize an event around celebrating the life of the deceased while raising money for a charity they loved. The charity event could be an elaborate event or a casual party where people can leave a donation to be pooled together and donated in the deceased’s name. If you don’t want to make a financial donation, ask guests to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to your local foodbank or gently used clothing to donate to a second-hand store.
Light Up the Sky
A great way to conclude your loved one’s celebration of life is by releasing fireworks or luminaries. Fireworks have long been something people look forward to at celebrations, so what better way to conclude your loved one’s service. If your loved one was cremated, there are even companies out there that can mix a small amount of the cremated remains into the fireworks. If you don’t want to shoot off fireworks, have guests write memories on paper lanterns and release them to the sky.
Did your loved one love food? If they were the type of person who loved to make or eat delicious food and appreciated trying new things, organize a dinner party that serves their favorite foods. This will allow guests to eat the foods your loved one loved, and feel a connection to them. You could even turn the service into a potluck and ask guests to try and recreate your loved one’s signature dishes.
Arts and Crafts
Was your loved one a crafty person. Celebrate their love for arts and crafts by setting up a craft station at the celebration of life. Guests can then spend some time at the craft station creating a one-of-a-kind keepsake to take home with them after the service.
If your loved one was fascinated by astronomy and space, consider purchasing a star in their honor. That way, when you find yourself thinking about them, you can look to the sky and know their star is up there watching over you. The International Star Registry offers several different packages to choose from. When purchasing a star, you receive a registered certificate, a sky chart with the location of your star, and an informative booklet about astronomy.
The Quote Board
Did your loved one always have something funny to say? Did they have a knack for entertaining others? Create a quote board for their service where guests can share some of their favorite quotes from the deceased. It could be something from a book, movie, or even just something they used say. As the board fills with quotes, guests can share stories of why they quote was so meaningful to them.