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20 Ideas for Planning a Celebration of Life

Celebrations of life are becoming more common as people look to honor and remember their loved ones in a positive and unique way. Here are 20 ways to pay tribute to life well lived.

1. Host an open mic

Encourage guests to stand up and share their favorite stories and memories. This gives everyone a chance to express their feelings and grief can give others insight into sides of your loved one that they may not have know.

2. Plant a tree or flower

A plant will give you an ongoing reminder of the person you lost and a place that you can visit to feel more connected to him or her.

3. Serve their favorite foods

Design the menu around foods that your loved one enjoyed, or put out their favorite desserts. Just the act of eating may bring fond memories to guests.

4. Make a photo collage

Encourage guests to each bring a photo of your loved one, and create a wall where everyone can share their photo and browse the photos of others.

5. Put together a custom playlist

Play music that your loved enjoyed to help bring back even more memories.

6. Make a donation to charity

Continue your loved one’s legacy by encouraging guests to make a donation to charity in their name.

7. Create a memory capsule

Ask guests to bring something that reminds them of your loved one, and put them all in a beautiful box. Choose a date (such as your loved one’s birthday or anniversary of their death) to reopen the box as a group and relive those memories.

8. Hold a gift drive

Recommend that guests bring a gift that they would have liked to give to your loved one. Then, donate them to a charity that helps families in need.

9. Attend an event

Attend a sporting event for a team that your loved one rooted for, or see a performance that they loved.

10. Wear a piece of their clothing or jewelry

Wear a bracelet or tie that they loved to add a personal touch to the day.

11. Give guests seeds to take home

Purchase seeds for your loved one’s favorite flowers and make small bags for guests to take home and plant themselves.

12. Create a memorial website

Create an online memorial for your loved one and ask friends and families to post their favorite stories and photos there. Visit it whenever you feel like you want to connect with your loved one.

13. Create a map of their travels

If your loved one was an avid traveler, put up a map and mark the places they traveled to with pins.

14. Display their favorite books

Use your loved one’s favorite books as decorations, and let them inspire the reading lists of your guests.

15. Ask guests to make memory stones

Set out a pile of stones and markers, and ask guests to write their favorite memories of your loved on on the stones. Collect them at the end of the event, and keep them on display.

16. Support their favorite team

If your loved one was a big sports fan, suggest that guests come dressed in the colors of their favorite team.

17. Release doves

Doves are a symbol of peace and love, and the physical release of them can be therapeutic to some people as a representation of letting go.

18. Give a toast with their favorite drink

Serve your loved one’s favorite drink. Encourage everyone to grab a glass and toast to their memory.

19. Make a book of cards and letters

Gather cards and letters that your loved one wrote and put them together in a book that guests can browse.

20. Enjoy their favorite activity

If your loved one was an outdoors lover, go on a hike. Or if they loved the ocean, spend a day at the beach.

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Last updated June 19, 2018
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Tracy Neely "Baskets of note cards & ink pens gave guests the opportunity to share a memory at my son's memorial service. Personal favorite, "Because of Andrew I know God.""