Planning a life celebration book

Personalizable memorial cards


How to Plan and Personalize a Memorial Service and Turn it into a Celebration of Life

This page contains ideas for creating a personal memorial service. Use one or several of them to turn a run of the mill funeral into a memorable celebration of life.

Memorial Idea: Create a Memory Table and Memory Boards

Think about your loved ones hobbies and passions. Gather some of the key things that were important to your loved one. At the entrance to the service, have the items displayed on a large table. Place items reflecting their hobbies or interests, perhaps a bowl with their favorite candy or treat, and friends and family can help themselves. You may want to take 3x5 cards and label the items and explain the significance.

Memorial Service Memory Table
Albert Litwin proudly served as a Captain in the Army during WWII. He helped plan the D-Day invasion with General Eisenhower. By the looks of those boots, he wasn't just sitting behind a desk!

What Can I Put on a Memory Table?

Create a table and bring in things that your loved one liked to do. For example, if they liked to paint, bring in their artwork, their paints and brushes and smock. You could even bring in their easels and put the artwork on their easels. If they were gardeners you could bring in their gardening tools and pots of flowers. If they liked football you could bring any logo memorabilia of the team that they supported that you or they may have. If they liked photography, set their favorite cameras on the table with some of their photographs. You may want to write on a notecard, “Sarah always found time to craft the perfect photo and then share them with us.” “Look at Sarah's hole in one on hole 7.” If they liked golf bring in the clubs, tees, scorecards and golf balls.

Wood carving on memory tableFuneral Memory Table
Dave Daly's hobby was carving wood, on his memorial table his tools and works of art were on display. As you can see by his memorial table he was also a sailor and was in the service and a proud American.
Memory table of a golf lover
A memory table of a golf lover, the chalk board announces that the lantern is lit loving

Celebration of life memory table
Something tells me Albert Litwin played a mean game of cribbage. That enlarged cribbage board is great, I also like the diploma, his eye glasses and funny t-shirt.

If your loved one was a traveler, consider making a travel themed memory table. How about a map with pins in all the places they visited? Don't forget to include their passport and suitcases too.

This is a creative way to display postcards from your loved ones' travel adventures
using flowers and various sizes of trees stumps to create some height.

Memory Boards

Memory boards are used similarly to memory tables but items are posted on a board. Many funeral homes and event locations will have boards for you to use. You can also purchase them at stationary supply stores or you can order memory board kits. Everything you need is conveniently located in one kit. Often photos are put on the boards but as you'll see below Albert Litwin's family displayed his favorite crossword puzzles.

Memorial Service Memory Table
Seeing a person's hand writing really makes you feel their presence, Albert loved crosswords and seeing his hand writing as he filled in the correct answers is perfect!

How to create a memory board

Gather friends and family around and make it a group effort to put together memory boards. Working on it together can be very therapeutic.

Funeral Memory Board photo collage

Purchase Images with sayings and decorations for Do It Yourself Memory Boards Here

How Can I have Family and Friends Share Their Memories?

Memorial Notecards:

You only have one chance to collect everyone’s memories. Consider lined 3” x 5” cards that say, “My Special Memory of You ” These cards and pens are handed to friends and family as they walk into the service. The celebrant or funeral director can be responsible for handing them out and collecting them at the end of the service. These cards can be put in a pouch and taken out and shared at family gatherings for years to come. They become a reflection of ancestors' lives for generations to come.
They are available for purchase here: Memorial gifts and cards
Have guests write their memories on these cards

Guest books are not very practical as they require people to wait in line at the service. Unless feelings and memories are shared, what is the long term use of a guest book? If feelings and memories are shared, the wait could become very long and delay the service.

You may want to consider a memory book/guest book/photo album combination that is ideal for capturing the essence of the person- their passions, hobbies, interests, accomplishments and family history. You'll want to make completing the book a family activity... encourage children, grandchildren and all family members to partcipate. It will be therapeutic and rewarding; collecting photos, memory cards, notes and letters. Share friends and family's personal memories by inserting the "My Special Memory of You" cards into the book. Additionally, the book can be used as a guest book at the life celebration. This book will be treasured for generations to come.

Memorial guest book with funeral thank you notes Memorial guest book inside view
Photos and memory cards can be combined to capture memories

View a video of the funeral memory book:

View this video on You-Tube: Life Celebration Memory Book and Guest Book

Writing Letters as a Form of Grieving:

Many grief counselors recommend letter writing as a way to begin to work through the grief process. It's becoming more popular for the host of the memorial service/life celebration to suggest attendees bring a letter to the departed. By writing their thoughts they will often feel like they have been able to document how they are feeling while contributing to the service. The letters are commonly placed in the casket (some caskets now have drawers especially for this purpose) and if the person is cremated the letters are included placed inside the urn.

Did your loved one like to write? How about setting up vintage typewriters and invite family and friends to share their memories. It would be really wonderful if the typewriter(s) belonged to the departed.

Unique Funeral Flower Arrangements:

Many people now say, "In Lieu of Flowers send a donation to...". Florists are missing an opportunity to provide you with a personalized unique floral tribute to your loved one. Below you will find four tasteful funeral floral arrangements that are ideal for a life celebration. It's not easy to find such personalized floral tributes with photos and personal momentos so you may have to print off this page and bring it into a progressive florist. The yellow roses and daisies could be given to family members or attendees in remembrance of the deceased. Because each person is unique, floral designs should not be limited by FTD or the funeral director. A special photograph or an artist's favorite painting can be added. Check out these examples where personal belongings like a baseball glove or golf clubs are incorporated into the arrangement.

What a wonderful memorial floral tribute that incorporates photos as well as flowers
placed in mason jars hanging from the tree. If your loved one was a gardener,
you could pick the flowers from thier garden. Fabulous way to add a special DIY personal touch to the service.

Floral funeral arrangement with photo

Jack LaLanne barbell floral arrangement
Elaine LaLanne, Jack’s wife of 51 years, poses next to his portrait and barbell funeral floral arrangement in a similar pose as Jack always sported

Add a photo to this unique funeral arrangement with daisies and yellow and orange roses for an uplifting display Baseball funeral floral arrangement
For the baseball fan, a creative floral display with a baseball bat, glove, ball and cap - ticket stubs could be added too
Funeral floral arrangement with photos
A photo display combined with flowers creates a personal flower arrangement

Dad floral arrangement
What a creative way to pay
tribute to your Dad

Roses floral arrangement for funeral
This is a nice life celebration floral arrangement because the roses can be shared with family friends as they are leaving. Much nicer than leaving the arrangement for the staff to throw away.

We know it's traditional to send flowers for a funeral as an expression of sympathy, so consider asking attendees to the service to bring a flower as a tribute to your lost loved one. The flowers can be placed into a wreath and either placed on the casket or if the person is cremated and the remains are scattered, you could put the wreath out to sea along with the ashes. The flowered wreath will gently float away.

Straw wreath framePink floral wreathRed floral wreath

You can purchase a straw or biodegradable wreath form at any craft store such as Michaels. See sample above:

Memorial floral wreath floating in the ocean

What to do with Flowers from a Funeral?

Here's a do it yourself idea for the flowers that are remaining after the service. Dry the flowers and make beads to use in jewelry, a keychain or bookmarks. You can make them just about flowers, roses, lilies, carnations or any kind of flower are suitable. Click here for how to make beads for jewelry out of flowers from funerals.

Consider putting pocket charms on the table that reflect your loved one. Guests are encouraged to take one, they will put them on their pocket or purse and when they run across it they will remember the departed.
Pocket Charms Pewter Heart
Pewter Heart pocket charms
More memorial charms

You may also want to consider personalized seeded cards that contain wildflowers. The cards can be placed on the memory table and friends and family can take them and keep the card as a keepsake and plant the seeds.

Seed Plantable Heart Memorial CardsPlantable forget me not butterfly seed cards funeral gift
Butterfly Bookmarks for Memorial Service
See Personalized Plantable Seed Cards and plantable forget-me-not bookmarks. Great for the person who loved to read and garden.

Another idea for the person who liked to read, bring their favorite books to the service. Consider placing them on or next to the memory table. Next to the books create a sign that says, JOHN WAS AN AVID READER. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO TAKE ONE OF HIS BOOKS AND ENJOY IN HIS MEMORY.

View a video showing the plantable seed cards:

View this video on You-Tube: Plantable Seed Card Collection

Here is what a customer said about the cards,
"I just wanted to let you know-we had my mom's memorial service/celebration of life Sept 2 at HoChunk Casino/Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin (one of mom's favorite places :-) I placed a dollar casino token and one of the wildflower seed inscribed heart cards that I ordered from you at each place setting at the tables. People commented and really thought they were great. Thanks for offering such a wonderful website-you were a godsend at a really difficult time." Kimberly T.

How can I help my guests connect?

Example of nametagsOne of our customers named Linda Lee provided everyone with name tags when they walked in. Her mother was 85 years old and most of her friends were about the same age and many were suffering from memory loss. She didn't want her mother's friends to be embarrassed for not remembering names of people they hadn't seen in years. Her mother's favorite color was pink so she got plain white labels from the office supply store and put a pink border on them using the computer. The pink bordered tags were then given to a couple close friends who sat at the front on the reception area at a table writing out name tags. The tags not only said the person's name but the relationship to her mother. For example, Esther Hodges (High School Friend, Class of 1938). It's rare that everyone knows each other at a service. If everyone has a name tag that says not only the person's name but the relation to the deceased it makes the service much more personal as well as helps the guests to make conversation.

Download our nametag template for Avery 5164 stickers: Nametag Template Pink (Microsoft Word Document) or Nametag Template Green (Microsoft Word Document)

If your loved one loved to bake, serve their favorite cookie and provide the recipe

If your loved one like to bake or just to eat cookies, consider serving their favorite treat. If they were known for a special cookie, provide the recipe and set up a cookie bar at the service. What a sweet way to make people feel a little better during a difficult time. Don't have time to bake? When people say, "how can I help?", provide the recipe and have them bring a couple dozen cookies to the service. Next to the cookies you can have a note that says, EVERYONE ALWAYS LOVED SUSAN'S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES ~ ENJOY HER SPECIAL RECIPE.

Carrie Fisher was known to throw awesome Hollywood parties. She always served the same meal of fried chicken, collard greens and corn bread. So at the private celebration of life it was fitting that they served 125 of her friends that meal.


Have you found these ideas helpful? Check out this book with everything you need to create a personalized memorial service. It is only $9.95 and will ship the same day it is ordered for quick delivery. It is also available for immediate download. Planning a Celebration of Life

Planning a celebration of life book

© Mary Hickey All Rights Reserved

More Memorial Ideas

Memorial Poems | Memorial Songs | Memorial Books | Keeping their memory alive | Writing an Obituary | Unique Funeral Ideas | Thoughts on Grief | What to say at a funeral | Funeral thank you notes | Funeral Bible Readings | A sample eulogy

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