26 Awesome Funeral Personalization Ideas To Try in 2015

personalization-ideas

It’s a new year at your funeral home, which makes it the perfect time to set new goals that will help you wow your families like never before.

And let’s be honest, if amping up your personalized services isn’t one of your goals, it darn well should be. Thankfully, we’ve got just the thing you need to get off to an amazing start.

Check out these 26 awesome funeral personalization ideas to try in 2015. With so many ways to be inspired, you’re guaranteed to offer your families a life celebration they’ll never forget!


Set the stage

The Baby Boomers see funerals as a “crowning performance”, and that means you’ve got to set the stage for them to celebrate life. Create an uplifting ambience for your families that will help them feel comfortable and happy and trust me,  that makes all the difference. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

#1: Create a memory table

One of the essentials of any personalized funeral service is a memory table. We love memory tables because you can do so much with them. You could even make multiple memory tables that are set-up like “stations” to represent different chapters or passions in the deceased person’s life. The possibilities truly are endless here, so encourage your families to use their imagination. For a primer on creating a memory table, check this website out.

#2: Make a quote board

A quick and easy way to add a special touch to a funeral service? Having families create their own quote board. Choose a quote that means something to the family or loved one and put it on a chalkboard, paper, or fabric. Then, add decorations of any kind and voila! You have a wonderful display for the service.

quote-keepsake

#3: Light candles to honor the deceased

It’s a well known fact that you never forget a smell. And if your family can recall a certain smell that reminds them of their loved one (think grandma’s apple pie), suggest that the family light a few candles that add a healing aroma to the service. If you want to take it to the next level, you could surprise your families and create luminaries for them to light in honor of the loved one. Heck, you could even have the family and funeral guests release them into the sky (as long as it’s safe and legal, of course).

candles-funeral

#4: Replace your decorations with the families’

Offer the opportunity for your family to swap out your viewing room’s decorations for decorations of their choice to truly make the space their own. This will make the family feel more “at home” and comfortable, which is important at a time like this. Help them out by providing some empty picture frames, vases and candle holders, too.

#5: Display photos in a unique way

Sure, a memory board is a great way to display the families’ photos of their loved one, but why not help them think outside the box and create something that will make the service even more beautiful? Your families could tie photos to balloons (below), create a wreath with them or hang them on clothespins to add some visual appeal to the service.

unique-photos

#6: Bring the indoors outdoors

If you’re arranging an outdoor funeral service, make trees a centerpiece by hanging pictures, flowers or memory cards from them to add an unexpected personal touch. This is an especially great idea for gardeners or flower enthusiasts. Families could create little keepsakes for their guests like the mason jar below. They could put olive oil, a photo of the loved one and a flower to create the perfect keepsake for guests.

flowers-mason-jar

#7: Offer their favorite food and beverages

Instead of the standard coffee and water service at a funeral, why not surprise your families by offering the loved one’s favorite drinks or snacks? Try to ask in a subtle way what kinds of foods or drinks the loved one enjoyed the most during the arrangement meeting, and take notes. They’ll be surprised and delighted by how much you pay attention to detail.


Recycle and remember

In a world where everyone is finding new ways to go green, there isn’t a better time to show your families all the ways they can use their loved one’s belonging to create beautiful keepsakes. Browse some of our favorite ideas below:


#8: Craft a colorful memory pillow

It might be hard for your families to go through their loved one’s clothes after they’re gone. But transforming them into a beautiful keepsake pillow will make it less daunting and more meaningful. It’s a great way to go green and keep the loved one’s memory alive. Want to learn how to get crafty and make one? Check out the instructions here.

memory-pillow

#9: Put together a memory quilt

If a memory pillow doesn’t spark their interest, why not suggest making a memory quilt, instead? They can be put together using the loved one’s old t-shirts, clothes, favorite colors or patterns. You could take it even a step further and have the quilt customized to have the loved one’s photos on it, too. Here are some basic instructions for putting together a memory quilt for people with any experience.


#10: Transform funeral flowers into beads

Why let all those beautiful funeral flowers go to waste when the service is over when you could create a keepsake with them instead? In this easy tutorial, families can learn how to create funeral beads and make necklaces, bracelets and even earrings with them. It’s an easy, affordable way to turn what would be waste into a beautiful treasure to be kept forever.


#11: Make a knick knack collage

Everyone has a few items that represent something significant in their life – whether it’s an accomplishment, memory or passion. Why not put those items on display to make the service that much more personal? Create a simple collage that’s visually appealing and make it your own – you can add little cards to describe each item or create “stations” that encompass the different passions in the loved one’s life.

collage-knick-knack

Get interactive

If your families are looking for anything but an ordinary funeral, try offering forms of personalization that are more interactive. That way the family and funeral guests can feel more involved in the funeral service and begin their healing journey on a positive, engaging note.

#12: Offer a memorial stone station

Set up a station with small stones and permanent markers. Then, create a sign that instructs every guest to write their names and a brief note on a rock to honor the loved one. The family can choose to keep the rocks in their home, garden, or to scatter them somewhere that’s meaningful to the deceased.

memorial-stones

#13: Host an open mic session

Instead of the standard eulogy, open up the mic during the funeral service or afterwards during dinner and invite family and friends to share a few words about the loved one. This will allow them to publicly grieve and express their thoughts while also providing some insight and memories for others at the service.

#14: Create an interactive puzzle

If the loss wasn’t a tragic one, inserting a bit of humor and fun into the loved one’s service is a great way to get people talking and sharing memories. Try creating a mad lib, crossword puzzle or word search that represents the loved one. You could ask questions about their favorite things, passions, or create one that reflects their sense of humor. Check out the example below for some inspiration.

mad-lib


#15: Play the loved one’s favorite game

Does the family have fond memories of sitting around the game table, playing Scrabble or Monopoly into the early hours of the morning with their loved one? Why not host an honorary game night in their honor? Games are a great way of bringing people together and reliving happy memories.

#16: Grow a memory tree

If you’re looking for a way to engage funeral guests during the service, suggest a memory tree. Funeral guests can write down their favorite memory with the loved one and put it on a beautifully decorated tree that the family can take home with them. If you’re interested in making one, here’s a quick tutorial with some great examples.

memory-tree

Offer giveaways

Handing out small favors that remind funeral guests of their loved one at your services is a great way to make your funeral home stand out. Here are a few examples of giveaway you could offer:

#17: Hand out the loved one’s favorite candy

I once attended a funeral for a high school teacher of mine who was always referred to as “Big Red”. So, at his funeral, the funeral directors passed out small packets of Big Red gum for everyone to take home in memory of him. I still have that pack of gum to this day because it reminds me of the fond memories we had together. Bonus points if you tape a small message to the snack. Extra bonus points if you personalize the snack in honor of them (here’s how to).

funeral-m-and-ms

#18: Pass out tree seedlings

What a better way to help a family pay tribute to their loved one than by offering a way for guests to plan a tree in honor of them? The family can pass them out to guests, but they can also find a meaningful (and legal) place to plant one of them as a part of the service, too. Most tree seedling packages cost less than $5, check out our favorite option here.


#19: Give away customized print memorabilia

One of the easiest ways to make your families feel special is to offer complimentary bookmarks, prayer cards or thank you cards to funeral guests. All you need to do is grab a photo of the loved one, have the family choose a prayer or quote that represents the deceased, and choose an appropriate color scheme. It’s really that easy. Want to know how to create these print keepsakes in minutes? Then check out Life Tributes All-In-One Personalization Software..

#20: Craft individual memorial photo pins

This is a simple yet easy way to let everyone take a little piece of the loved one home with them. Simply purchase enough artificial flowers from a local craft store for every funeral guest to take home. Then, use a safety pin to attach a photo of the loved one to the flower. You can laminate the photo or put it in a plastic holder. All of these supplies should cost less than $20 and are relatively easy to put together – here’s a link to an affordable flower supplier to get you started.

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#21: Send family & friends home with a tribute video

Did the family decide to create a tribute video for their loved one? Burn a few extra copies and offer them to the family and guests, free of charge. Not only will it make your funeral home stand out from the competition, but it will also help your families  and guests to revisit their memories with the loved one and heal in the comfort of their own home.

#22: Create a personalized pocket charm

Unlike a locket or cross necklace, a pocket charm is a great keepsake idea because it’s gender and age neutral. You can purchase a memorial pocket charm or create your own. I suggest using crystals (they are known to have healing qualities) or a token that is meaningful to the deceased (ie. poker chips).

personalized-pocket-charm

#23: Bring the loved one’s favorite books to the service

A great idea for avid readers is to bring a collection of their books to the service. Place them on a memory table or at a station with a sign that reads “Susan’s life passion was reading. Please take one of her favorite books and enjoy it in her memory”.


Get the kids involved

Will there be a lot of kids at the service? Instead of just keeping them busy, why not make them a part of the funeral service? You’ll be surprised at how beneficial getting the kids of the family involved is – their wild imaginations and creative minds are sure to come up with some pretty unique ideas to celebrate the loved one. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

#24: Act out a play

I read about a funeral once where a few grandchildren put on a play from start to finish in honor of their grandfather. The play brought everyone at the service to laughter and tears, and afterwards the funeral home put on the grandfather’s tribute video. If the kids are at an appropriate age, this could be a fun way to remember a loved one.

#25: Recite a poem or eulogy

When I was younger, I recited a poem at my grandfather’s service and it was one of the most memorable part of the service. People asked me for weeks to send them a copy of them poem. If there will be kids present that like writing, have them put together a poem or short story and recite it during the loved one’s eulogy. Tears and laughter are sure to ensue.

#26: Create a coloring station

Set up a little station with crayons, markers, colored pencils and paper and have them draw pictures in honor of the deceased. Many therapists think drawing is a great way for children to express their feelings, plus the pictures will make great keepsakes. Who knows, maybe some adults will join in, too!

drawing_for_departed_grandpa2

The best idea yet…

Everyone knows offering families a meaningful celebration of life starts with the right personalization software. Get a 30-day free trial of Life Tributes, the all-in-one personalization software by clicking here or giving us a call at 800-798-2575, ext. 5.

Ps. Before you go, be sure to check out our Ultimate Funeral Personalization Checklist!


What other out-of-the-box funeral personalization ideas do you have? Share them with us in the comments below!

Rochelle Rietow

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  1. Paul R. Mitchell

    I arranged a funeral some years ago for a cowboy who owned his own ranch.
    The family asked to have everybody on horse back with the casket placed on a wagon pulled by a team of horses. We met that morning the fog was just lifting, they had a big bon fire where we all gathered for coffee and sausage sandwiches. We saddled up and went on a two hour trail ride some 200 riders ages from 6 years old to 80. As the funeral director I lead with the lead horse they provided for me. We rode for two hours back to the small cemetery. The minister and his wife rode along side of me with their horses. At the cemetery there was a pavilion where we had a barbecue lunch for everyone. A friend of the families drove along side of the procession and took pictures. It was a beautiful send off just the way the family wanted.

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  3. cutegirl

    quite nice and really good

  4. Maria

    I’m looking for funeral ideas for my son who past away June 12, 2014

  5. Kim Hoggan

    Nice ideas ! I especially liked the balloons with photos 🙂

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    It’s fantastic that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our dialogue made at this time.

  7. MrsByerly

    I am planning a celebration of life which is so hard and this was so helpful. Thank you so much.

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  9. Ann Atkins

    My friend loved birds. Because of reading your great suggestions, I had the idea as a giveaway for each guest, a sachet of bird seed, for them to take and bring to a park to feed the birds in honor of Barbara.

  10. Carla Shradar

    My husband was the youngest of 10 children. The first child died as an infant, his dad when he was only 2, his mother in 1982 after raising the 9 children as a single mom. Six years ago his oldest brother died. For flowers I suggested a wreath of 2 white roses and 8 red roses. We continued this through the death of 2 more brothers….white roses for the deceased and red for the living. Two years ago another brother died. My husband wanted to include his parents in roses too. The funeral was in California and the florist was excited about the idea. Instead of a wreath, we settled on a beautiful vase of flowers. Now it was five white roses and five red roses and getting into it the florist suggested two newly arrived pink roses with red streaks. The bouquet was awesome and everyone loved it. Sadly a sister has died and a new rose arrangement will be bought. If we cannot get the pink/red roses, I am thinking of pink, lavender, or yellow roses for the parents, white roses for the deceased siblings, and red for the living. Since I am the youngest of three, when my best friend and sister died, I did the same idea but on a smaller scale. We did a bouquet of 2 red roses, 2lavendar roses for our parents and the white rose for Connie. It to was beautiful.

  11. Christa

    Carla, thank you I love this. It is so simple yet so symbolic. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I will use at my mothers service.

  12. Ruth Knight

    This was a great start to personalising my mothers funeral which is next weds. I used the gift bags and stones also favourite marzipan sweets also gift favours at the wake of knitted flowers( a big hobby) and seeds for the gardeners. We had marzipan scented candles and a memory board. We also have arranged pretty tissues to be handed out in her favourite ceramic bowl. We chose a pail of her favourite flower dried petals to throw rather than earth. I wrote poems and am using one of my deceased father too. The mourners are wearing black but the ladies have an accent in pink which was her favourite colour( coffin also pink) but to fla up breast cancer which we will support by donations etc

  13. Elisha

    Great ideas! Thanks for the write up. There are many options in lieu of funeral flowers . It should be a celebration of life and these ideas will definitely help make that happen.

  14. Joy Butler

    My husband’s mother has just passed away and I wanted to make her funeral really special for the family. It would be a great idea to have the kids draw and right letter for their grandma. Also, an outdoor service would be a good as well. You could float lanterns or candles as a farewell gesture. Thanks for these great ideas.

  15. Rilee Chastain

    Joy, thanks for the wonderful ideas. I love the thought of writing and drawing letters to grandma! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Theodore Winston

    I really like your ideas! It’s a good idea to give a few activities for the children to keep them busy and to help them express their feelings for the loved one. You can add a memory tree to that and let everyone write a memory they remember sharing with the deceased. Thanks for the great tips!