As you can imagine, we have seen a lot of different funerals in our time. After a while, you’d think these gatherings would all look the same, but we marvel at the personal touches and fresh ideas that each and every ceremony has to offer. Because we’re always admiring these differences, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite unique traditions. Make the funeral for your loved one memorable and distinctive with small but impactful additions like these.
Memory Jars: Instead of a guest book, provide small cards or stationery for guests to write favorite memories about the deceased. Allow them to fold the memories and place them in large jars placed on the sign in table. After the funeral is over, these memories lend for hours of pleasant reminiscing as you and your family read through what others remember of your loved one’s life.
Thank You Gift: It is such a gracious and personal touch to thank your guests for attending the service and for the care they’ve shown your family through this difficult time. One beautiful and inexpensive thank you gift is Forget Me Not seeds. Guests can take these home in a little packet, perhaps with a quote or picture on it, and plant them in remembrance of the deceased. Forget Me Nots are beautiful blue flowers that can be planted almost anywhere and at any time and they will bloom within the year.
Balloon Release: We love this tradition when it is done well—it can be such a special moment, especially for the little ones involved! The best time to release balloons is at the burial site after the ceremony is finished. Have your guests write messages, wishes and memories on their balloons before they release them into the heavens. A sea of white balloons with words of love rising up to the clouds is a striking image on which to end a commemorative service.
Photo Timeline: Part decoration, part tribute, part entertainment! Photo timelines are such a classy way to display the highlights of your loved one’s full, meaningful life. It will be a conversation starter among your guests and a centerpiece at the service. We’ve seen fishing line strung from the ceiling with clothes pins, picture frames lining a long table, even helium balloons holding pictures on their tails with dates written on the balloon. All are beautiful and sentimental!
Jenga Guestbook: “Build Memories: Sign a Jenga Piece!” Another fun substitute for a guest book—have guests write a short memory on a Jenga piece and add it to the ever-growing tower. We couldn’t believe this adorable idea when we saw it. People loved adding to the structure and laughed about their memories as they squeezed them onto the little blocks.
A Life in Music: Consider having background music playing through the viewing, while guests mingle, and during arrival and departure. You could create a playlist of your loved one’s favorite songs or, one idea we loved, a playlist of the top-selling song of each year of the deceased’s life. You’ll end up with a long playlist that spans decades, just like the life of your loved one.