Last Updated on August 8, 2020
Here are 100 creative celebration of life ideas to inspire you as you celebrate the life of an amazing person.
Even as you grieve, it is important to treasure and honor your loved one. These creative and meaningful memorial ideas are perfect for right now and on into the future.
We have suggestions for the funeral or celebration of life service that will be happening soon, unique memorials for the days and weeks following, and inspiring tributes to ensure that their memory is well-kept for years to come.
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What Is a Celebration of Life?
A celebration of life is a memorial event that honors a departed loved one by focusing on their life and legacy. Also known as life celebrations, the celebration of life can be held in place of or in conjunction with a more traditional funeral service.
Celebration of Life vs Funeral
Sometimes the family holds what is basically a funeral service, but instead of using the more traditional term it is called a celebration of life. Typically this kind of service has many of the same elements as a funeral, but the goal is to replace the somber, stilted atmosphere with a happier event that focuses on the keeping the memory of the loved one alive.
Celebration of Life AND Funeral
Other times, it’s best to hold the traditional funeral and then have a separate event with more of a joyful party feel. Sometimes the family turns the funeral reception into a celebration of life, but often it’s a completely separate event. This is where the crazy stuff happens, like fireworks, keggers, dancing, and more. Or you can keep it a little more low-key, yet still focus on having a happy, joyous time of story telling, good food, and great company.
100 Inspirational Celebration of Life Ideas
These creative ideas fall into ten broad categories:
- Life celebration ideas for the service
- Crowdsourced celebration of life ideas
- Online celebration of life ideas
- Home decor celebration of life ideas
- Charitable celebration of life ideas
- Christian life celebration ideas
- Nature celebration of life ideas
- Wearable celebration of life ideas
- DIY life celebration projects
- Crazy & creative memorial ideas
My prayer is that this list helps you broaden the possibilities of how you can honor someone you love so very much.
10 CREATIVE IDEAS FOR THE SERVICE
These memorial ideas are for the service itself, to personalize and make it a little bit unique – just like your loved one.
- Take the time to write a beautiful eulogy
- Get a beautiful cremation urn
- Make your own casket with this DIY kit
- Take steps to have an eco-friendly disposition
- Hand out memorial favors to those who attend
- Create a video or photo montage set to their favorite song
- Livestream the service for those who cannot attend
- Display a custom portrait in place of or in addition to the traditional photograph
- Decorate with symbols of their favorite pastime; e.g., in the colors of their favorite sports team, or herbs and foliage for an avid gardener
- Serve their favorite food or treat at the reception
10 CROWDSOURCED MEMORIAL IDEAS
Use the resources of funeral or celebration of life attendees to create a special memorial. Ask each person to bring a photo, write down a memory, etc and use these things to make your own scrapbook-style memorial.
- Use “My special memory of you” cards to have people write down a favorite memory or story
- Bring a recipe to create a memorial cookbook
- Take pictures of projects the loved one helped with
- Collect photos for a scrapbook
- For artists, have people vote on their favorite song, poem, photo, painting, sculpture, etc and create a “best of” scrapbook
- Ask for quotes that remind people of your loved one
- Have stones, wood tags, quilt squares, or Jenga blocks available for people to sign and write a message, then use them to create a memorial
- Set up a memory board for people to add their own photos, notes, memories, and condolences
- Fill a time capsule with notes, photos, and memorabilia; the burial can be a part of the service or a separate event
- Give out flower seed packets as funeral service favors, which crowdsources the spread of blossoms in memory of your loved one
10 ONLINE CELEBRATION OF LIFE IDEAS
Here are some creative memorial tributes you can create and share online.
- Create a memorial website (for free)
- Share an album or series of photos on social media and tell the back story
- Write out and post one (funny, sad, heartwarming, interesting) story each day for a week
- Ask friends and family to share stories and photos
- Make a “meme-orial” social media memorial (free)
- Create a playlist of their favorite songs and share it
- Share images with comforting Scripture verses
- Start a GoFundMe campaign to cover funeral expenses or help the family of the decedent
- Share your grief journey in a blog or in a dedicated Facebook page
- Live tweet as you read their favorite books or watch their favorite movies. This is something you can do alone at home as part of your grieving process, but still get some community involvement by talking about it online
10 HOME DECOR MEMORIAL IDEAS
Celebrate your loved one’s life and memory with something that will beautifully accent your home.
- This pillow made from their favorite shirt
- Get a memorial quilt made from their clothing
- Choose a beautiful cremation urn like these 3-dimensional wood art memorials
- Personalize a set of coasters with their initials
- Have their portrait painted (send old photographs to the artist for inspiration)
- Engrave your loved one’s favorite quote onto a handcrafted wooden memorial plaque
- Create a memory board with photos, letters, keepsakes, and more
- Customize a wall-mounted bottle opener to raise a glass to their memory
- Light up your home with a memorial tealight cremation urn
- Personalize a memorial bench for the backyard or garden area
10 CHARITABLE IDEAS
If giving back to the community was important to your loved one, these will be ideal as you consider how to celebrate their legacy of generosity.
- Start a scholarship fund in their memory; this can be for a wide range of things:
- College, vocational training, ministry training
- Music lessons, band camp
- Volunteer expenses for camps and ministries
- Paid internships
- Relief aid
- Tutors for disadvantaged kids
- Donate to a cause in their name, one that was important to them
- Give their clothing to charity
- Donate their books to a public or school library; include an inscription or sticker saying the book was donated in their memory
- Adopt a pet to honor your beloved animal lover’s memory
- Send Christmas gifts to children’s hospitals in your loved one’s memory
- Donate the vegetables from your memorial garden to a food bank
- Sponsor a youth sports team or program in your loved one’s name
- Knit hats, gloves, socks, or scarves for your local homeless shelter and sew in a tag that says “in memory of” your loved one
- Give to your church in memory of your loved one
10 CHRISTIAN LIFE CELEBRATION IDEAS
Celebration of life ideas for Christian believers who are now living most fully.
- Hold the funeral service in your local church
- Have your pastor clearly preach the gospel at the funeral service
- Sing their favorite hymn at the funeral and record it (here are some favorite funeral hymns)
- Tell the deceased’s testimony at the service, and/or write it out to share with friends and family
- Get their favorite Bible verse etched onto a memorial plaque
- Give out seed packets at the funeral with John 12:24, Revelation 14:13, or John 11:25 printed on them
- Donate to their church and/or a cause that was important to them:
- Volunteer at one of those ministries or charitable organizations
- Pass on their personal Bible as a special heirloom to a child, grandchild, or someone they mentored
- Many churches have a meal program to bring hot meals for the sick, parents of newborns, or the grieving. Consider setting up meal deliveries for the family of someone who has lost a loved one, or, if you are the bereaved, join the ministry when you are up to it in memory of your loved one (Read our sympathy meals guide here)
10 NATURE TRIBUTES
Nature-themed memorials that emphasize your loved one’s passion for the outdoors, the environment, and all that is green and flowery.
- Give out personalized seed packets at the funeral
- Plant a tree in their memory
- Plant a tree in a devastated forest area in their honor
- Feed the birds from a personalized memorial bird feeder
- Grow a memorial garden
- Grow a memorial tree from their cremated ashes
- Name a star in their memory
- Create on of these 11 Living Memorial Ideas
- Scatter their ashes at a favorite outdoor location – ocean, river, mountaintop, park, etc
- Maintain or sponsor a park, hiking trail, or other local outdoor attraction in memory of your loved one
10 WEARABLE IDEAS
Consider wearing a memorial tribute to celebrate your loved one’s life and honor their memory.
- A personalized memorial t-shirt with angel wings and “In Loving Memory”
- Create jewelry with their signature or fingerprint engraved
- Get a memorial necklace that holds a small portion of cremated ashes
- These cremation necklaces are also aromatherapy diffusers for essential oils
- Wear their wedding ring on a necklace chain
- Turn the funeral flowers into jewelry beads
- Wear one of their t-shirts as an infinity scarf (tutorial here)
- Get a memorial tattoo
- Make a custom memorial t-shirt
- Create and wear a personalized memorial button
10 DIY LIFE CELEBRATION IDEAS
Here are some celebration of life projects you can make yourself.
- Create a memorial scrapbook with photos, notes, newspaper clippings, funeral programs, and more
- Make a quilt or pillow from their old clothing
- Set a place at the dinner table for your loved one on special occasions
- Use the funeral flowers to create jewelry (tutorial here or have it done professionally)
- Replace the face of their watch with their photo and wear it or keep it by your bedside
- Make a memorial teddy bear
- Barrel-age your own spirits at home to raise a glass to your loved one’s memory
- Create a memorial space in your home, such as a wall, shelf, mantle, or entire room (see our guide here)
- Make your own special and personalized candles to light in memory
- Take a photograph and make your own photo necklace pendant
10 CRAZY & CREATIVE MEMORIAL IDEAS
- Get their cremated ashes put into fireworks or bullets
- Write notes to or about your loved one, include your contact information, put them into bottles, and let them go in the ocean. You may get a text or email someday from around the world!
- Write their name in the sand and take a photo (or have it done for you)
- Scatter their ashes at a favorite location – in the ocean, at the golf course, from a mountaintop
- Make up a drink or a sandwich, name it after your loved one, and get it on the menu at their favorite bar, coffee shop, or restaurant
- Share a bottle of wine or spirits with close family and friends in an annual remembrance
- Get a park, building, or local landmark named after your loved one (usually this involves a large donation)
- Give away your loved one’s trinkets, games, toys, and keepsakes to younger family members. Do an Easter-egg-style treasure hunt to make it fun
- Bring your loved one’s favorite books, movies, music, or other trinkets to the memorial service and invite people to take one home as a memorial
- Provide self-addressed stamped envelopes to everyone at the funeral service, and encourage them to write a note of encouragement to the family or a story/memory of the decedent, and send it in the mail in a month or six months. This will ensure that the family receives plenty of sympathy notes, stories, photographs, and more during the following months