16 Creative Funeral Ideas to Consider

Choosing the right funeral service is a very personal decision to honor an individual and should be unique to reflect that loved one’s life. Even though funeral services are usually rooted in tradition, whether cultural or religious, you can always add something unique and creative to the funeral to remember your loved one. Here are some great ideas:

1. Display Photos

If you have access to some photos of the person who has passed, consider displaying them on a freestanding noticeboard for guests to see. Make a photo collage, display framed photos, or ask your funeral director if he/she will help put together a photo video to play before or during the service. People love looking at old photos and this gives people a spot to gather and reminisce.

2. Favorite Food

Food tends to be deeply rooted into who we are, whether we love to cook, or love to eat. If your loved one had a “famous” recipe or favorite meal, consider having a friend make it for the gathering after the service. If your loved one was more of a take-out fanatic, it’s totally OK to serve pizza or tacos to hungry friends and family.

3. Favorite Music

Just like food, music says a lot about who we are. If the decedent had a favorite artist, band, or song, you can easily add that into the funeral ceremony.

4. Create a Memorial Quilt

Sewing a memorial quilt incorporating the decedent’s old t-shirts, jeans, favorite colors, and/or designs are a wonderful idea. Get a few friends that are handy with a needle and thread to sit together to make a blanket.

5. Host a Favorite Activity

Was your loved one an avid chess player? Did he/she golf all the time? You could host an activity of some sort after or near the funeral service. Invite some or all of the attendees to play the decedent’s favorite game or read passages from their favorite book.

6. Hand Out Seed Packets

Seed packets are a special way to remember the person who has passed away, especially if they were an avid gardener. The packet and card can be personalized, with seeds for guests to grow their own plant as a tribute. Common choices are forget-me-nots (a common remembrance flower) or tree seedlings (for a lasting memorial to them). There are many companies online who make personalized seed cards for different occasions.

7. Give Away Books

If your loved one was an avid reader, and you’re not sure what to do with their extensive library, you can share their love for books by letting guests take one home from the funeral. This way people can enjoy and share their love of books too.

8. Choose a Personalized Casket or Urn

People are becoming increasingly creative with casket and urn choices as a way of celebrating a person’s unique life. Some coffin or urn makers specialize in colorful and patterned coffins, with a range of designs, such as: flowers, butterflies, stars, music-themed designs, national flags, animals, or even a custom design.

Another creative option is purchasing a plain wood coffin, then inviting friends and family to decorate it with drawings or messages for their loved one. You could use marker pens, paint, crayons, or even stickers.

9. Consider a Glass or Jewelry Keepsake

A recent concept is for artisan glass blowers to incorporate small portions of ashes into their creations, for an unusual and beautiful tribute. You can also get glass pendants for keepsake necklaces or bracelets.

10. Get Creative with the Hearse

Black car hearses may be traditional, but there are more non-traditional options that may be available. Funeral directors are starting to offer a wider range of transport options, such as: a specific year/model hearse, the horse-drawn carriage hearse, or even a motorcycle hearse.

11. Be More Colorful

Black may be the more traditional color for a funeral, whether it’s the dress code, hearse, or casket, but you can always ask mourners to wear bright colors, their favorite sports team attire, or the favorite color of your loved one.

12. Host a Scattering Ceremony

If the person wants to be cremated, you can scatter their ashes in a meaningful location, such as: a local park, beach, grave-site, or where they may have chosen in their will. You can also plant a memorial tree during that scattering ceremony and spread ashes by the tree. This way family and friends can pay their respects by this tree for years to come.

13. Hand Out Favors

If the deceased had a collection of small items (figurines, model cars, thimbles, baseball cards, etc), you could share their collection with guests at the funeral service. This personal keepsake gift is a great way for people to remember and celebrate their life.

14. Release Birds or Butterflies

After the burial service, you can incorporate a symbolic gesture by releasing doves or butterflies. It is a beautiful way to say goodbye and can represent a person's spirit being released from their body. If you prefer not to use animals, you can always pass out little bottles to blow bubbles.

15. Memorial Stone Messages

Set up a table at the memorial service or reception with smooth stones and paint markers. Each person can write a short message, picture, or memory on a stone. The messages on the stones can then be read aloud during the service, or placed in a garden or at the loved one’s favorite location.

16. Home Memorial Service

Almost all funerals in North America today take place at a funeral home or church. However, before the 1860s, funerals were usually held at the loved one’s family home, in the “parlor” room. This changed after the Civil War and the invention of embalming, but there are still modern-day families who want to hold the service at their home. In New York, this can be done, but a funeral director has to be involved with the service.

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