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15 Simple Memorial Service Ideas

There are plenty of ways to host a memorial service that aren’t your traditional formal event. A memorial service can be any event where you remember the life of a loved one, so feel free to get creative with it. If you’re looking for information on memorial service ideas or for memorial service ideas for cremation, you’ve come to the right place.

1. Host a potluck

Gather your friends and family and ask that they all bring or make a dish that your loved one used to love. Assign each guest a different dish or item and host a potluck full of your loved one’s favorite things.

2. Movie night

Host a movie night where you and your loved ones watch a list of favorite movies that the deceased cherished. You can organize the list chronologically, by length, or by how much the person who passed away liked the film. Hold a vote near the beginning of the movie night where you vote on which movie you think was the absolute favorite of the person who passed away.

3. Pool party & BBQ

If the weather is nice and you happen to have a pool (or have access to a pool), a pool party can be a great way to celebrate the life of a loved one. Invite over friends, family, and your community to share food, drinks, and some fun in the sun while remembering the life of a loved one. You can ask guests to share their favorite memories or moments with the deceased or perhaps make food or play games in the deceased’s honor.

4. Create a memory jar

A memory jar is easy to set up and a great way to gather favorite memories from those attending the memorial service. Purchase a large glass jar, cut up some paper strips (or provide post it notes), and provide some pens. Ask those attending to write their favorite memories or moments with the person who passed away and drop them in the jar. During the memorial service, you can read out some (or all) of the memories as a group and join each other in remembering a loved one.

5. Release lanterns

Lantern releases are a great way to have guests pause and reflect on the life of a loved one during the memorial service. This is an easy option to add to a simple memorial service and can be very impactful on those attending. Purchase some eco-friendly lanterns, ask that guests share or think about treasured moments with the deceased and release the lanterns as a group. Releasing the lanterns during the night can have an even bigger visual effect.

6. Host a stargazing party

Stargazing parties are a great option if the weather isn’t too cold at night and is easy to plan and host. It’s also a great option for those who are looking for outdoor memorial service ideas or informal memorial service ideas. Simply ask guests to show up at your chosen location at the specified time (maybe bringing a blanket or two) and host a stargazing party. If a friend or family member has a telescope, even better! Look for a night that won’t be too cloudy and a place that has a good view of the stars.

7. Create a memorial movie

Ask friends and family to submit short video recordings of themselves sharing stories, memories, or moments that they cherished with the person who passed away. Once you have all the clips, create a short memorial video using video editing software (such as iMovie) and share it with those at your memorial service. Hearing the stories of others can help guests and family members connect with each other over the loss of a loved one.

8. Crash a bar

For something a bit more lighthearted, consider crashing a bar or hosting a bar crawl in honor of the deceased. This is a great option for those who held bars as special places or loved to go out! If you’re doing a bar crawl, let attendees know which bar you’ll be starting at and where you intend on heading. Ask guests to share or speak at each stop in the bar crawl or to each have one of your loved one’s favorite drinks. If you were regulars at the bar, consider speaking to the bar owner beforehand and letting them know you’re hosting a memorial service and what day it’ll be -- maybe they’ll clear out space or give you a discount!

9. Hold an honorary game

Was your loved one a big sports fan? Were they involved in sports and enjoyed getting out on the field? Host an honorary sports game in their honor during your memorial service. Ask guests to wear their own favorite jerseys or even a jersey from your loved one’s favorite team during the event. You could also host an honorary game and then go to a favorite bar or restaurant afterwards as part of the memorial service.

10. Go on a mini vacation

Ask friends and family to go on a small vacation to either a favorite spot of the deceased’s or a place that they never had a chance to visit, but always wanted to. While there, you can incorporate outdoor and indoor activities (such as hiking, kayaking, going to restaurants or bars, going on a boat, etc.) and have speakers at each activity. To keep it a little more informal, just have guests share their favorite stories or memories about the person who passed away when they’re comfortable.

11. Volunteer for a day

Volunteering is a great way to honor the life of a loved one while giving back to your community. As a memorial service, ask guests to accompany you and your family to a chosen community or charity to do volunteer work. Your volunteer work can be dedicated to your loved one who passed away. This can be made a bit more special by choosing a charity your loved one supported or was a part of.

12. Create something together

If you’d like to get more creative or artistic, host or attend an art projects studio. If you have a pottery studio, a painting studio, a drink and paint studio, or another type of group art studio near you, consider hosting a memorial service there. If you’re looking for memorial service ideas at home, ask guests to come prepared to create a piece of art in memory of the person who passed away and provide them with an array of artistic materials (such as clay, paints, chalks, plaster, etc.). At the end of the night share everyone’s art piece and memories of the person who passed away.

13. Host a game night

Many people love games and boardgames, so hosting a game night is a great way to remember them once they’ve passed away. You can either play larger party games (like card games) or have different tables set up with different games that your loved one played. This is a great way to share in something that your loved one enjoyed while remembering their life with their community.

14. Host an online memorial service

For those looking for simple and easy to set up memorial services, an online memorial service is a perfect option. Create a memorial website, send out the Zoom info, and invite your loved ones to an online memorial service with ease. Online memorial services can be structured (you can have set times for readings, eulogies, etc.) or you can hold a more informal service that includes everyone bringing their drink and their favorite story to share on a call with others.

15. Have an ash scattering ceremony

Scattering the ashes is a popular ceremony for those who have been cremated. Once you have your location chosen (a place special to your loved one, a pre-chosen place, or a place you think your loved one would’ve appreciated being scattered), invite your loved ones to attend and say some words at the ash scattering ceremony.

With any event, it’s important to keep attendees and organizers in the loop and informed about important event details. Consider creating a memorial website to keep track of this information, keep family and friends in the loop, connect with your community, and track RSVPs to your memorial events. Memorial websites are easy to use, easy to set up, and incredibly useful when hosting a memorial service.

Start a memorial website

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Last updated April 27, 2021
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