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Celebration of Life Ideas

Losing a loved one is never an easy ordeal. It may take time to come to terms with the loss, and the grieving may last for a long time. Even though the grief, there is that need to celebrate the life of the loved one. 

To honor the life, he/she lived and give them a befitting farewell. Each life lived is as unique as the individual who lived it, therefore, there are various ways to commemorate a dear one’s life. It should be something personal that reflects the essential aspects of the deceased.

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A celebration of life is one of the best ways to achieve this. Such an event is a meaningful and non-formal way of paying tribute to the life lived by a loved one. It can be a simple or elaborate event limited only by your imagination. 

It’s also the best way to reminisce over fond memories or moments of the deceased and find comfort as a family. In this post, we will discuss various ideas you can apply while planning your loved one’s celebration of life.

What is Celebration of Life?

The Celebration of Life is also known as Life Celebration. It is a type of memorial ceremony that’s more informal with no definite set guidelines. Because the event is meant to memorialize the deceased, it’s normally as unique as the person you’re celebrating. 

The event is meant to memorialize and honor the departed. During this time their life’s achievements and legacy are remembered and celebrated. It’s meant to be a joyous moment whereas for the deceased’s loved ones you find comfort and healing by celebrating together. 

Celebration of life vs Funeral Service.

Some use Celebration of Life to refer to traditional funeral service. The two are however different in a few ways. To begin with, a funeral has some set guidelines while a celebration of life is more flexible and informal. Another big difference is the expected atmosphere. 

In a funeral, the mood is mostly somber. In the Celebration of life, people are expected to be joyous given it’s a celebration of a loved one’s memory.

Funeral service AND Celebration of Life.

While the two events differ, they can be held together. It’s advised to first start with the traditional funeral service, before moving on to the celebration of life ceremony. 

The reason is that the joyful party feel of the Celebration of life helps reduce the somberness of the funeral service. Some families opt to turn the reception after the service into a celebration of life. The ceremony can have something elaborate like fireworks and dancing. 

Alternatively, it can be something simple and low-key like good food and great company, around a table.

Inspiration Sparks Ideas.

A final tribute is like attempting to tell a person’s entire story through a single ceremony. It should be as special as the life it’s meant to represent. 

While planning, you can get inspiration from almost anywhere, which will help you come up with great ideas.

Your focus should be on the little things that bring out the most meaning. You can get inspiration by trying to recall the fond memories of the loved one. 

It could be the interests they had as well as their likes. Think of the food they enjoyed, the music they loved listening to, even the places they frequently visited. You can then use these passions to come up with a one-of-a-kind celebration of life event. 

Celebration of Life Ideas.

Regardless of whether the deceased is cremated or buried, a celebration of life ceremony still applies. It accommodates the family traditions and interests of the loved one, making it the best farewell ceremony. 

It is a unique and meaningful way of commemorating a loved one that highlights the essential aspects of who they were and the kind of life they lived.

To make the event as unique as the loved one was, you’d need to come up with great out-of-the-box ideas. 

Aside from the deceased’s interests, there are some common great and thoughtful ideas that some people have applied. To help you come up with your unique event, here are some of those personal ideas:


Memorial releases, either into the air or on water, are a great idea when it comes to an event like the Celebration of life ceremony. It is a symbolic and meaningful way of letting go, coming to terms with the loss, and saying goodbye the loved ones. 

You can release things like doves, butterflies, balloons with photos of the deceased attached to them, or lanterns with personal notes of remembrance written on them. Releasing white doves is especially a common way of honoring the dead. 

The white doves are seen as a symbol of love, peace, and the Holy Spirit, that are released to accompany the souls of the dead into heaven.


Celebrate with Music

Another great way of commemorating a loved one is through music. There are many ways you can use music to plan the perfect most meaningful Celebration of life. 

If you knew what the deceased favorite music genre was, you can make that the playlist of the event. You could also plan a live performance if the deceased enjoyed them while alive. An alternative idea is to make the ceremony a dance party where the deceased favorite music is played. 

This is especially suitable if the deceased enjoyed dancing and having a good time. The type of music they like can be a centerpiece of the event that guides all other elements.

Funeral flowers

Flowers are a great way of representing a loved one. You could use the deceased’s favorite flowers as the floral arrangement of the ceremony. If that’s not possible, then the flowers could be in the deceased’s favorite color. 

Flowers types and colors also have different meanings, you could use those meanings to reflect the type of person the deceased was or the types of relationships he/she had. A great personal touch would be swapping the traditional vase with something like a wine bottle, beer pitcher, or vintage cans. Anything that symbolizes something essential about the deceased.


Normally, there is transportation required to transport the remains of the deceased to the final resting place. 

You can also use the mode of transportation as a way of celebrating the life of a loved one. You can stick the photo of the deceased on the side of the car transporting the deceased. Another more personal way is by using their preferred modes of transportation. If for example, the deceased was a motorcycle enthusiast, you can arrange for a motorcycle procession. 

If they were car enthusiasts then the procession can be of his/her favorite cars, whether classics or modern. If the deceased was a fan of the Victorian era or a hopeless romantic, then you could arrange to have the remains carried in a horse-drawn carriage.


The main element that can be used to personalize a reception is food. If the loved one was a foodie, you could set all their favorite dishes as the menu of the reception. 

You could also hold a pot-luck where everyone brings a type of food that the deceased enjoyed. Another great idea is to invite some of the food trucks the deceased may have enjoyed eating at, to cater at the reception. 

Another alternative is to hold the reception at the deceased’s favorite restaurant or diner. It’s a great way for the family and friends to recall the moments shared with the deceased in these places.


Aside from food, decorations can also be used to personalize the celebration of life ceremonies. Decorations are a great way of reflecting the deceased’s passions and interests, as well as their relations with those around them. 

The simplest way is to use their favorite colors as the theme of the décor. Alternatively, you could use different colors in the décor to reflect their personality. A more personal idea is to use the photos of the deceased as decoration. 

They could be individual photos as well as photos with friends and family. You could stick them on the wall or attach them to helium balloons. The photos can be used to tell the story of the life lived by the deceased. If the deceased were an art enthusiast, you could follow an art gallery theme and hang up their favorite paintings or photos of them.  

Funeral attire

This is an easy and thoughtful way of celebrating the life of a loved one. You could ask the attendees to dress up in the deceased favorite colors. If the deceased was a gardener or love flowers, the dress code for attendees could be floral prints. 

Alternatively, if the deceased was a fan of a particular period like the 90s, the attendees could dress up like that in memory of the deceased. For a veteran, the best way to honor their memory is if the attendees were dressed in patriotic colors, to honor the veteran’s service to the country.

Personalized program.

The beauty of the informality of a celebration of life ceremony is that you have the freedom to create a meaningful and personalized program for the day. You can include the activities that the deceased enjoyed while alive.

It could be a favorite game or sport. You could project the deceased favorite movie and watch it together in memory of them if they enjoyed watching movies. You could have a poetry reading if they were poets or poetry enthusiasts. 

Personalized video.

A personalized video is a great tribute to a loved one. Not only does it reflect the life the deceased lived, but it also helps bring comfort to the family and close friends. It’s like a walk down memory lane, where the loved ones recall all the fond memories and special moments. 

The video can be a slide show of the deceased’s photos. It can also be a collection of different videos ever taken of the deceased since childhood. It is one of the best ideas if you’re looking for something personal. 


While planning for a celebration of life ceremony, even the location can be a way to memorialize your loved one. Think of places that made them happy. 

Where would they go to feel at peace? It could even be a location that meant something to both you and your loved one. You can choose to hold the ceremony there. 

Writing Prompts.

The celebration of life is supposed to be a joyful time when we celebrate the lives of our loved ones and remember them fondly. 

That is why the ceremony helps significantly with the healing process. To continue aiding with the healing, you could create cards with written prompts like, “My first memory of you is…” Such prompts will encourage people to write down their memories which you could decide to share by reading them out. 

The main point, however, is for the grieving members to let out how they feel about the loss of a loved one.

Legacy Ideas.

Celebrating a loved one’s life isn’t just for the moment, it should be something that creates a legacy to be remembered for a long time to come.

It can also be something that reminds everyone of the legacy a loved one left behind. It can be based on their interests or passions, what they enjoyed doing while alive. Here are some legacy ideas you can apply when planning on how to celebrate a loved one’s life:

Animal Lovers.

There are many ways to create a legacy on behalf of a loved one while celebrating their life, using their love for animals. A great place to start is by adopting a favorite animal in their honor, and even naming the animal after them. 

You could also donate to an animal shelter or animal rescue in their name. An alternative is to partner up with animal shelters and hold an adoption event for the animals. You could also volunteer at an animal shelter and create awareness about animal cruelty in honor of them.

Avid Reader.

Your loved one may have been a bookworm who enjoyed curling up in a corner with a good book. A great way of commemorating them and creating a legacy in their name is to start a book club. 

It could compromise family and friends who also enjoy reading books and eventually grow into a bigger club. You could even start by reading the deceased’s favorite books. Another great way is to hold a book drive and collect as many books as you can. 

You can then donate the book’s in your loved one’s name to honor them.  You could also hold a reading annually of your loved one’s favorite books to commemorate them.

Sports Lover.

There are many ways to commemorate a sports enthusiast. One way is by holding a sporting event. It could be a basketball tournament, a golf outing, a football match, or even a softball. It depends on what the deceased enjoyed most. 

You could raise money through the event and donate the proceed to the deceased’s favorite charity in their honor. You could also use the money to fund a children’s league or team. 

This could be an event. If the loved one was a professional player, you could have their sports jersey framed and put in a place of honor. The team members can do this or the family. 

One’s Alma Mater.

If your loved one passed after having gone through college, you can use the degree, special interest, or school to create a legacy and commemorate them. 

One great way of doing that is by donating to their alma mater. Even better you could set up a scholarship in their name at their college. It could be for the specific course they majored in.

Outdoor Lover.

For a person who appreciated the outdoors, there are several events you can host on an annual basis to commemorate them. You could have an annual picnic or camping and invite all the people who cared for the deceased to take part in it. 

You could also go hiking or boat riding if that is what the deceased enjoyed. Another great way that builds a legacy for the deceased, is by holding a tree planting event in their name.

Other Ideas.

There are so many ideas you can incorporate in honor of your loved ones and their legacy. It depends on what their passions were and what they stood for. 

You could start a charity organization in their name if they were charitable people who enjoyed giving back to the community. You could build a garden and name it after them if they were gardeners or enjoyed flowers. Alternatively, you could commission the naming of their favorite flower after them.


Celebrating a loved one’s life isn’t only important for honoring them, but it is also part o the healing process for the family and friends. It is also a way of building a legacy around what they stood for and the passions they had. 

The ideas are endless when it comes to celebrating life. You find inspiration simply by looking back at the interests and hobbies of the loved one.