25 Creative & Unique Memorial Service Ideas & Keepsakes

25 Out-of-the-Box Memorial Service Ideas

There's no one way to grieve when you lose someone close to you. There are also many ways to celebrate a person's life as part of the grieving process. Without a doubt, it is tough to process. But, sometimes, the opportunity to come together with friends and family members to share memories and say goodbye to a loved one helps tremendously.

A memorial service is different from a traditional funeral service. And, just like grieving, there is no set way of having one. Thus, many people choose to treat a memorial service as a celebration of life. The funeral arrangements may also be somewhat different than expected so it is advised to involve the funeral director in any especially unique funeral ideas.

A standard funeral includes either a cremation or open casket showing in a funeral home, maybe a church ceremony and eulogy, and then a burial, and that is fine. However, if  you are looking for a unique way honor a loved one who has passed away, you are not alone. Here are 25 memorial service ideas and funeral ideas for mementos to pay special tribute to your dearly departed and have a send off in the most beautiful way possible.

1. Share a Hobby

Make your loved one's hobby or passion the theme of the memorial service. For example, if they enjoyed art, display some of the pieces they have created as a centerpiece. You can also have guests create artwork with paint and canvas. Was the departed obsessed with Star Wars? Display some of their favorite figurines.  You can easily tailor this idea to fit almost any hobby.

2. A Rose By Any Other Name

As far as funeral flowers are concerned, you can try to go all out and hire an expert arrangement specialist who can produce something that resembles what your loved one enjoyed the most. A figure of the movie character they liked or favorite sports teams logo would be nice. Always think about the things that a person wanted, and based on that, you can go all out with the flower arrangements. You can also try to keep a sense of humor when doing everything in the memorial service; witty ideas for these events always go a long way with all the mourners.

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3. Shaken or Stirred?

Red wine is the core standard alcoholic beverage to offer, along with coffee and water. However, to honor your loved one, you should think about different drinks for the more festive individuals your loved one had in their life. For example, if your Uncle loved sweet Brandy Old Fashioneds, you could offer this to your attendants during the service. This will break the ice and inspire family and friends to share fond memories of the dearly departed.

4. Turn Up the Tunes

Music is typically part of the memorial and traditional funeral services. But in this case, the playlist you create should embody your loved one's personality. So, compile a list of their favorite songs or book their favorite DJ or band for an uplifting life celebration.

5. Best Home Videos

Reach out to family and friends for help gathering videos of your loved one. Combine clips of the good times, heart-wrenching moments, and milestones in life. Then press play, and you are sure to ignite special memories. This can also be done with social media and a display screen. 

6. Collection Showcase

Suppose your loved one had a unique collection of items. In that case, you could create a memory table at the memorial service. This showcase can be for anything, including baseball cards, comic books, or wine. As family and friends gather, take turns speaking about the memories created as the collection accumulated.

7. Fundraiser in Lieu of Flowers

This idea is a great way to honor a loved one who valued philanthropy. However, it's also a good idea to raise awareness relating to the deceased's work or cause of death. To do so, you can inform guests ahead of time to donate to a specific charity instead of purchasing flowers.

8. Have the Guests Take Part

If you are looking for a celebration-focused funeral or simply the furthest from a traditional funeral, there are multiple fun ideas you can incorporate in the memorial service. For example, changing the focus of a loved one passing to a more upbeat note by engaging the guests is a great way to start the grieving process.

Attendants will need time to organize their thoughts and prepare their sentiments. Then, ask them to share stories about the most memorable moments they spent together with the person; you can create a round table where the selected people take turns and raise a glass right after they finish their speech. It would be best to keep in mind that leaving a spot for their closest relatives to tell a story is a must. They are the ones who have the most compelling tales.

9. The Memory Tree

Instead of, or alongside the guest book, consider having the attendants write a brief memory on a "leaf" and hang it on a memory tree. Not only does this allow guests to express their condolences in private, but it also provides the spouse, parents, or children of the loved one with memories that they may not have been privy to before. The notes could be used later for a scrapbooking project or could be put in the casket.

10. You've Got Mail

An excellent addition to the guest book is a letterbox in which you ask all the guests to write up a letter of invitation to the service dedicated to your loved one. This unique memorial service idea provides closure for family and friends and gives them a more personalized way of saying goodbye. This box of letters can be buried or cremated with the dearly departed, or the spouse, parents, or children would receive the letters. So, be sure to specify to the attendants when requesting letters.

11. Photo Reel

Create a picture slideshow with social media if you don't have many videos. You can organize the photos in chronological order to make them more impactful, starting from their birth. Also, try to incorporate music that complements the photo selection as you create the slideshow.

12. Using Their Imagination

If you know there will be a good amount of children present at the service, try getting them involved in a meaningful way. Ask a few how they would choose to remember the dearly departed and go from there. Because childrens' imaginations are much more accessible and boundless, there are many fun and creative ways they can come up with to incorporate in the tribute. 

Consider a butterfly release or balloon release in a special place. Also, ideas  like a coloring station or a place to write a letter to their loved one are very therapeutic ways for children to express their emotions, especially in a monumental event like the passing of a loved one. From there, they can choose to keep their creation or put it on the gravesite or in the casket.

13. Try to Keep a Light Mood

Any person who thinks about the day of their memorial service most likely does not want people crying or in pain during the service. In that spirit, the individuals who organize the service should always keep in mind this crucial detail; they always have to be the most lively during the ceremony because staying active will help all the other guests be a little less sad. Try sharing memories that are humorous and unforgettable. 

14. Quit Playing Games With My Heart

If your loved one's death was expected, looking at incorporating a bit of humor may be a fun way to celebrate the passing of your loved one. For example, consider hosting a game night and playing their favorite game. Or during the service, playing a game of "What Would ______ Do?". This is a great way to jog people's memories of their family or friends and creates an open floor to share some enjoyable memories or capitalize on their sense of humor.

15. Art of Life

Create a long-lasting impression on all the guests; you have to set this up smartly so everyone can have fun and be as creative as they want. Have a painting station to paint memorial stones.  Set them up with all types of craft material to create a collage on an enormous wall, then leave them to make whatever they like that will remind them of this person. Try to keep that wall always available for every guest who wants to revisit it in the future.

16. Open Mic Night

Gather family and friends, pick a host, and take turns to share stories, dish memories and trade laughs. You can have guests tell your loved one's favorite jokes, sing a song, or read a poem. While some memories will bring tears, the overall goal of this idea is to keep it light and laugh about the best of times.  In many midwest states it is common to have a gathering and potluck after the funeral service and either before or after the burial. You could incorporate the open mic as part of this.

17. Let Their Memory Live On


A great way to honor the departed is by choosing a small token for the guests to hold on to that best represents them. Personalized prayer cards or funeral booklets  for your loved one should be handed out to all attendees. For children, maybe give out the departeds favorite candy. Still, there are many other ways you can provide tangible memories of your beloved family member or friend. Here are some ideas you could consider:

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18. You Rock

Set up a station with permanent markers, maybe of their favorite color, with an object such as a rock, a large piece of reclaimed wood, or even a car bumper of their favorite model. Have the guests write a brief note, memory, or favorite attribute of your loved one on it. From there, you can choose to gather the memorial stones and keep them in a container of sorts or spread them in the same place as the cremated remains. If you prefer something like a reclaimed wood piece or bumper, mount it on a garage wall, or place it somewhere that would best fit your loved one's memory.

19. Tree of Life

A fantastic way to honor your loved one and allow their memory to live on is by passing out tree seedlings. You can choose to have the family members hand them out to guests in small envelopes or in the form of plantable prayer cards. You could even prepare a few small plants to plant in the person's honor during or after the ceremony. Doing this will leave some remains of the person's essence that will live on for even longer after everyone else has passed on. Finding a memorable (and legal) place to plant the tree is a perfect way to keep the memory of your loved one alive and growing.

20. Charming Thoughts

Another way to honor and remember the departed is through personalized charms or pins. Choosing a favorite picture, or even a few, and interchanging them in keychain picture holders, lockets, or buttons is a great way to allow guests to have a visual memory to carry with them. Or you could go the route of a small pocket charm, a more gender-neutral idea. The charm could be a small cross or heart or a more specific piece of memorabilia unique to your family or friend, such as dog tags, bottle caps, or a handkerchief.

21. Book Worm


A unique way to honor a loved one's passing is to incorporate any of their favorite items, including favorite books. Particularly if they were an avid reader, a great option is to gather their books and set them up at the service. Create a sign along the lines of, "Their greatest hobby of choice was to curl up with a book. Please take a book as you leave in memory of them." Inside each book, you can place a memorial obituary bookmark laminated with rounded edges and a tassel of your choice. This allows each guest to have a personal memory of the loved one and something they can look back on or use.

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22. Snapshots

Once you've compiled the photos of your loved one to use in the video or slideshow during the service, it is easy to make those pictures into memorial photo albums for close family and friends. Indeed, a keepsake that generations will cherish for years to come to remember their loved one. These can be printed affordably and quickly in time for the service or assembled after the service to include images of their final resting place.

23. Final Disposition

In many interviews after famous writer Hunter S. Thompson passed away, his good friend and actor Johnny Depp spoke about Hunter's last wish of scattering his ashes via a giant cannon. Depp humored his friend's final request and did just that. Keep this idea in mind, and regardless of how crazy their last wish was, you have to at least try to accomplish it. Even if it means scattering ashes with a giant cannon. The ideas are endless; every person has a wide variety of things they would enjoy in their memorial service.

24. Going Out In Style

This can almost go without saying; the person who passed away must have mentioned how he wanted the service to be held after passing. If that is the case, you must fulfill their wishes, cremate their remains, bury them, or even turn them into a tree. Carrie Fisher, for example, chose to be cremated and have her remains kept in a giant Prozac-shaped urn. Heath Ledger, who before tragically passing away at a young age, talked about his loved ones enjoying a day on the beach all together on the day of his memorial service.

25 Going Out With A Bang

You could go crazy with this: prepare a July 4th type of fireworks show near the beach. Maybe you can do this right after the cremation service and throwing the person's ashes into the sea if that was their final wish. Having some of the most spectacular fireworks ready, maybe something that spells the person's name in the sky is a nice touch.

If you decide to cremate, designating the disbursement of the ashes can be either right after a cremation service or later down the road. Regardless of what you choose, you can easily incorporate pieces of the memorial service into the scattering of ashes. For example, some people could enjoy the lighting and launching of biodegradable Chinese lanterns.   However, before moving forward with any plans, make sure to check your local laws to ensure these practices are legal and factor in their possible impacts on the environment.

How Will You Celebrate Your Loved One's Life?

There are many ways to say goodbye and memorialize someone who has died. If you're planning a memorial service, use these ideas as inspiration for giving your loved one a final farewell that will bring about a smile.

Whether you decide on a more traditional funeral or a unique memorial service, we are here to help celebrate your loved one in a meaningful way. Check out our custom funeral print products and custom mementos that make memorial services even more special.


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