Celebration of life ideas

When a loved one dies, it can be difficult to know how to best honour their life. Often, funeral directors will work with you to identify ways to make the funeral ceremony unique and special. Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about how you might celebrate your loved one's life.

What is a celebration of life?

A celebration of life is a time to bring friends and family together to observe the passing of a loved one. It’s less formal than a funeral or wake and might not take the typical form you expect. It could be an event or an activity. It could be in person or online. A celebration of life is anything that you want it to be and can be adapted to the unique needs of your friends and family.

When does a celebration of life happen?

It can happen any time after the funeral and wake. It might only happen once, or it could become an annual event. And it might be something that happens on a single occasion, or it could be a continual event. There aren’t really any rules about what a celebration of life can be, which means you can be as creative as you want.

Have a picnic in the park with your family and friends

Sharing food and memories is a great way to bring people together in a more joyous way. You could host the picnic in your loved one’s favourite place and enjoy their favourite foods. It’s a great opportunity to bring everyone together to mark the person’s passing on an occasion that is far less solemn than a funeral or wake. 

There's nothing quite like a sunny summer day with blue skies and plenty of warmth that begs to be spent outdoors. Spending time in nature with our family and friends is a great idea, so why not make it extra special by having a picnic? 

Bring some tasty snacks, games, or activities to enjoy during your picnic in the park. The fresh air will be good for everyone in attendance, and the connections built in this moment can last for years. So take advantage of these special moments where you can spend meaningful time together outdoors. 

Make a photo collage

Make a photo collage

Making a photo collage of your favourite memories with the deceased can be therapeutic for those grieving a loved one. During this time, it's especially important to remember the good times and have visual reminders of fond memories shared. 

When creating a photo collage, you may feel comforted by looking at each photograph your beloved family member or friend was part of and reminiscing on moments from the past. It will remind you that although they are no longer physically present, they will always remain in your heart. 

Taking the time to make a photo collage of special moments can help get through difficult times and provide much-needed solace. It’s also a great opportunity to get together with your closest loved ones and relive cherished memories. You can also swap photographs that you might not already have and add these to your own collage. See here for more ideas.

Plant a tree or flowers in their memory

Planting a tree or flowers in memory of someone who has recently passed away is a meaningful way to honour their life. It creates beauty, goodness and joy in the world, and also provides a subtle reminder of happy memories shared with them while they were alive.

It also communicates your love, even after they have gone. Planting something special in memory of a loved one can be uplifting and allow you to express your feelings when words are difficult to find. 

Not only that, it gives individuals the opportunity to nurture and give life to something new, both literally and metaphorically. Ultimately it serves as a symbol of continuing love and remembrance that will last for many years to come. You will always have a tranquil place to go and reflect on your loved one’s life.

Cook their favourite meal and share stories about them

Taking the time to cook a loved one's favourite meal is a wonderful way to honour them and keep their memory alive. As you prepare the meal, take some time to share stories about your relationship with them. 

Celebrate the happy memories and bring tears of joy rather than sadness as you remember all that you shared together. Taking the time to tell these stories will ensure that their lessons and love will live on in your heart for years to come. 

Not only do stories provide comfort and strength, but they also serve as a reminder that no matter how far away someone might be, they are still a part of who we are till our last moment on this earth.

You could take this celebration of life idea one step further by creating a recipe book with your friends and family. Ask everyone to contribute their favourite recipes that remind them of the person. You can then create the recipes and take polaroids to display alongside the recipes. The book will become a cherished heirloom that you can continue adding to over the years. 


Go for a walk in nature

Taking a walk or going on a hike can be beneficial for our mental health. It is an opportunity to spend time in nature, and escape from the pressures and stresses of everyday life. 

Walking in nature allows us to reset our minds and reflect on our lives without distractions. Nature has a calming presence that can allow us to take a step back, and see ourselves with more clarity. 

Life can throw so much at us that it becomes overwhelming, but taking a walk in nature can be an effective way of regaining perspective on our lives as well as de-stressing. Taking even just 15 minutes out of your day to take a peaceful stroll could make all the difference.

Try planning an annual walk to a special place with your loved ones. You can walk in silence or you can share stories along the way. It’s also a good opportunity to talk about your grief and get help and support from those who are going through the same things.

Staying active is excellent for grief, so this could be something that is not only good for your physical health but your mental health too.

Create a memory box

Losing someone important to us can bring a flood of emotion, but creating a memory box centred around that person can provide a way to remember them and the special moments shared together. The box can be tucked away when the pain is too much to face, but it can also be on hand to help you when you are ready to remember. 

Filling a box with mementoes such as photographs, favourite books, or artwork can be an incredibly powerful experience and help to keep those memories alive. You may want to add other items such as letters, handmade items, jewellery or even memorabilia from special times shared together. 

The beauty of these memory boxes is that their contents don't have to be expensive; they just need to carry meaning for you. Whatever items you choose will always evoke a reminder of the time spent with the one who has been lost and can help us move on in life while still keeping them in our hearts.

You could make a memory box alone, or you could invite friends and family to get together and make memory boxes together. This can be a great way for young children to process their grief, as they can get creative and express their grief in a different way.

Celebrate with live music

It’s called a celebration of life, so why shouldn’t you celebrate? Enjoying live music is one of the best ways to connect with your emotions and bring people together. Live music connects people and allows us to process our emotions in a healthy and positive way.

You could ask friends and family members to perform if they are musically talented, or you could hire a band to play covers of your loved one’s favourite songs. If they had a favourite band, you could bring everyone together at their concert to celebrate your loved one’s life.

Live music is a great choice if you felt that traditional funerals and wakes did not allow you to say goodbye in the way that feels the most appropriate for you. If the funeral and wake template felt a little impersonal to you, then planning a celebration of life with live music is a great way to say goodbye.


Grieving the loss of a loved one is never easy, but there are ways to honour their memory and make the process a little bit easier. Spending time with family and friends, creating a collage of favourite memories, planting a tree or flowers, cooking their favourite meal, going for a walk or hike in nature, and creating a memory box are all great ways to remember those we have lost. What are some other ways you like to remember your deceased loved ones?