It’s a new year at your funeral home, which makes it the perfect time to set new goals that will help you wow your families like never before. And let’s be honest, if amping up your personalized services isn’t one of your goals, it darn well should be. Thankfully, we’ve got just the thing you need to get off to an amazing start. Check out these 26 awesome funeral personalization ideas to try in 2015. With so many ways to be inspired, you’re guaranteed to offer your families a life celebration they’ll never forget!
The Baby Boomers see funerals as a “crowning performance”, and that means you’ve got to set the stage for them to celebrate life. Create an uplifting ambience for your families that will help them feel comfortable and happy and trust me, that makes all the difference. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Create a memory table – One of the essentials of any personalized funeral service is a memory table. We love memory tables because you can do so much with them. You could even make multiple memory tables that are set-up like “stations” to represent different chapters or passions in the deceased person’s life. The possibilities truly are endless here, so encourage your families to use their imagination. For a primer on creating a memory table, check this website out.
2. Make a quote board – A quick and easy way to add a special touch to a funeral service? Having families create their own quote board. Choose a quote that means something to the family or loved one and put it on a chalkboard, paper, or fabric. Then, add decorations of any kind and voila! You have a wonderful display for the service.
3. Light candles to honor the deceased – It’s a well known fact that you never forget a smell. And if your family can recall a certain smell that reminds them of their loved one (think grandma’s apple pie), suggest that the family light a few candles that add a healing aroma to the service. If you want to take it to the next level, you could surprise your families and create luminaries for them to light in honor of the loved one. Heck, you could even have the family and funeral guests release them into the sky (as long as it’s safe and legal, of course).
4. Replace your decorations with the families’ – Offer the opportunity for your family to swap out your viewing room’s decorations for decorations of their choice to truly make the space their own. This will make the family feel more “at home” andcomfortable, which is important at a time like this. Help them out by providing some empty picture frames, vases and candle holders, too.
5. Display photos in a unique way – Sure, a memory board is a great way to display the families’ photos of their loved one, but why not help them think outside the box and create something that will make the service even more beautiful? Your families could tie photos to balloons (below), create a wreath with them or hang them on clothespins to add some visual appeal to the service.
6. Bring the indoors outdoors – If you’re arranging an outdoor funeral service, make trees a centerpiece by hanging pictures, flowers or memory cards from them to add an unexpected personal touch. This is an especially great idea for gardeners or flower enthusiasts. Families could create little keepsakes for their guests like the mason jar below. They could put olive oil, a photo of the loved one and a flower to create the perfect keepsake for guests.
7. Offer their favorite food and beverages – Instead of the standard coffee and water service at a funeral, why not surprise your families by offering the loved one’s favorite drinks or snacks? Try to ask in a subtle way what kinds of foods or drinks the loved one enjoyed the most during the arrangement meeting, and take notes. They’ll be surprised and delighted by how much you pay attention to detail.
Recycle and rememberIn a world where everyone is finding new ways to go green, there isn’t a better time to show your families all the ways they can use their loved one’s belonging to create beautiful keepsakes. Browse some of our favorite ideas below:
8. Craft a colorful memory pillow – It might be hard for your families to go through their loved one’s clothes after they’re gone. But transforming them into a beautiful keepsake pillow will make it less daunting and more meaningful. It’s a great way to go green and keep the loved one’s memory alive. Want to learn how to get crafty and make one? Check out the instructions here.
9. Put together a memory quilt – If a memory pillow doesn’t spark their interest, why not suggest making a memory quilt, instead? They can be put together using the loved one’s old t-shirts, clothes, favorite colors or patterns. You could take it even a step further and have the quilt customized to have the loved one’s photos on it, too. Here are some basic instructions for putting together a memory quilt for people with any experience.
10. Transform funeral flowers into beads – Why let all those beautiful funeral flowers go to waste when the service is over when you could create a keepsake with them instead? In this easy tutorial, families can learn how to create funeral beads and make necklaces, bracelets and even earrings with them. It’s an easy, affordable way to turn what would be waste into a beautiful treasure to be kept forever.
11. Make a knick knack collage – Everyone has a few items that represent something significant in their life – whether it’s an accomplishment, memory or passion. Why not put those items on display to make the service that much more personal? Create a simple collage that’s visually appealing and make it your own – you can add little cards to describe each item or create “stations” that encompass the different passions in the loved one’s life.
Get interactive If your families are looking for anything but an ordinary funeral, try offering forms of personalization that are more interactive. That way the family and funeral guests can feel more involved in the funeral service and begin their healing journey on a positive, engaging note.
12. Offer a memorial stone station – Set up a station with small stones and permanent markers. Then, create a sign that instructs every guest to write their names and a brief note on a rock to honor the loved one. The family can choose to keep the rocks in their home, garden, or to scatter them somewhere that’s meaningful to the deceased.
13. Host an open mic session – Instead of the standard eulogy, open up the mic during the funeral service or afterwards during dinner and invite family and friends to share a few words about the loved one. This will allow them to publicly grieve and express their thoughts while also providing some insight and memories for others at the service.
14. Create an interactive puzzle – If the loss wasn’t a tragic one, inserting a bit of humor and fun into the loved one’s service is a great way to get people talking and sharing memories. Try creating a mad lib, crossword puzzle or word search that represents the loved one. You could ask questions about their favorite things, passions, or create one that reflects their sense of humor. Check out the example below for some inspiration.
15. Play the loved one’s favorite game – Does the family have fond memories of sitting around the game table, playing Scrabble or Monopoly into the early hours of the morning with their loved one? Why not host an honorary game night in their honor? Games are a great way of bringing people together and reliving happy memories.
16. Grow a memory tree – If you’re looking for a way to engage funeral guests during the service, suggest a memory tree. Funeral guests can write down their favorite memory with the loved one and put it on a beautifully decorated tree that the family can take home with them. If you’re interested in making one, here’s a quick tutorial with some great examples.
Offer giveaways handing out small favors that remind funeral guests of their loved one at your services is a great way to make your funeral home stand out. Here are a few examples of giveaway you could offer:
17. Hand out the loved one’s favorite candy – I once attended a funeral for a high school teacher of mine who was always referred to as “Big Red”. So, at his funeral, the funeral directors passed out small packets of Big Red gum for everyone to take home in memory of him. I still have that pack of gum to this day because it reminds me of the fond memories we had together. Bonus points if you tape a small message to the snack. Extra bonus points if you personalize the snack in honor of them (here’s how to).
18. Pass out tree seedlings – What a better way to help a family pay tribute to their loved one than by offering a way for guests to plan a tree in honor of them? The family can pass them out to guests, but they can also find a meaningful (and legal) place to plant one of them as a part of the service, too. Most tree seedling packages cost less than $5, check out our favorite option here.
19. Give away customized print memorabilia – One of the easiest ways to make your families feel special is to offer complimentary bookmarks, prayer cards or thank you cards to funeral guests. All you need to do is grab a photo of the loved one, have the family choose a prayer or quote that represents the deceased, and choose an appropriate color scheme. It’s really that easy. Want to know how to create these print keepsakes in minutes? Then check out Life Tributes All-In-One Personalization Software..
20. Craft individual memorial photo pins – This is a simple yet easy way to let everyone take a little piece of the loved one home with them. Simply purchase enough artificial flowers from a local craft store for every funeral guest to take home. Then, use a safety pin to attach a photo of the loved one to the flower. You can laminate the photo or put it in a plastic holder. All of these supplies should cost less than $20 and are relatively easy to put together – here’s a link to an affordable flower supplier to get you started.
21. Send family & friends home with a tribute video – Did the family decide to create a tribute video for their loved one? Burn a few extra copies and offer them to the family and guests, free of charge. Not only will it make your funeral home stand out from the competition, but it will also help your families and guests to revisit their memories with the loved one and heal in the comfort of their own home.
22. Create a personalized pocket charm – Unlike a locket or cross necklace, a pocket charm is a great keepsake idea because it’s gender and age neutral. You can purchase a memorial pocket charm or create your own. I suggest using crystals (they are known to have healing qualities) or a token that is meaningful to the deceased (ie. poker chips).
23. Bring the loved one’s favorite books to the service – A great idea for avid readers is to bring a collection of their books to the service. Place them on a memory table or at a station with a sign that reads “Susan’s life passion was reading. Please take one of her favorite books and enjoy it in her memory”.
Get the kids involved. Will there be a lot of kids at the service? Instead of just keeping them busy, why not make them a part of the funeral service? You’ll be surprised at how beneficial getting the kids of the family involved is – their wild imaginations and creative minds are sure to come up with some pretty unique ideas to celebrate the loved one. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
24. Act out a play – I read about a funeral once where a few grandchildren put on a play from start to finish in honor of their grandfather. The play brought everyone at the service to laughter and tears, and afterwards the funeral home put on the grandfather’s tribute video. If the kids are at an appropriate age, this could be a fun way to remember a loved one.
25. Recite a poem or eulogy – When I was younger, I recited a poem at my grandfather’s service and it was one of the most memorable part of the service. People asked me for weeks to send them a copy of them poem. If there will be kids present that like writing, have them put together a poem or short story and recite it during the loved one’s eulogy. Tears and laughter are sure to ensue.
26. Create a coloring station – Set up a little station with crayons, markers, colored pencils and paper and have them draw pictures in honor of the deceased. Many therapists think drawing is a great way for children to express their feelings, plus the pictures will make great keepsakes. Who knows, maybe some adults will join in, too!