10 Special Celebration of Life Ideas for Your Loved One
If you need celebration of life ideas, you likely lost someone close to you. When you have lost a loved one, honoring them with a memorial service is a monumental task. While many choose to stick to a traditional funeral, a celebration of life is also an option for those who want to focus on the joy their late loved one brought to the world. This practice of having a party in honor of the death of a loved one is very common in Hispanic cultures, the most widely recognized tradition being Dia de Los Muertos. However, people of all backgrounds and religious denominations can host a celebration of life event.
The first thing you need to sort out is where to host the celebration of life. If the person you’re memorializing had a favorite place of worship, like a church, temple, or synagogue, naturally you may hold it there. However, that is not the case for everyone.
Enter Peerspace. As the largest online marketplace for hourly venue rentals, we the place to turn to when you need a venue to host a celebration of life. On our platform, you’ll find homes, churches, community centers, and other solemn yet welcoming spaces that you can rent for a few hours. It takes the guesswork out of planning a memorial during a difficult time. With that said, here are some celebration of life ideas that can help you create an event that is personalized, meaningful, and truly representative of everything that special person meant to you.
1. Incorporate your loved one’s favorite things
Honor what they loved most by serving their favorite food and drinks, hosting their favorite activities, and playing their favorite movies or TV shows. This could also mean designing the event around a theme or a color scheme they loved. Think of books, movies, shows, musicians, celebrities, animals, and sports they liked and go from there.
Choose floral arrangements, tableware, food and beverages, and decorations that fit the theme, and consider asking guests to show up in relevant costumes. It is tough to narrow down one aspect of a person’s personality to celebrate, so picking a few central themes that meant a lot to them can be helpful when you are trying to come up with celebration of life ideas.
2. Design a personalized playlist
In the words of Hans Christian Andersen, “When words fail, music speaks.” During this emotional time, it may be best to let music express what you want to celebrate about the loved one you lost.
Create a playlist with all of their favorite songs. Then, pass Spotify around at the event and ask all of the guests to add a song that reminds them of the person being honored. To start off your list, add “Evergreen” by YEBBA. It is a beautiful song for a celebration of life.
3. Personalize the celebration with a special Peerspace venue
Places can be deeply symbolic. One particular place might have meant a lot to the person who has passed on. Select a venue based on places your loved one felt most at home. (This could be a garden if they had a green thumb, a bar if that was their favorite hangout, a bookstore if they always had their nose in a book, or a theater or art gallery if they were into the arts).
With Peerspace, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing a venue. We have thousands of memorial-worthy spaces in cities and towns across North America and beyond.
A few suggestions include:
- This creative gallery studio in Chicago, IL (pictured above) with an open floor plan and beautiful artwork created by the host and gallery owner
- This historic versatile event space in Seattle, WA with tables and chairs for 110 guests, a stage, A/V equipment, and a kitchen
- This modern event space in the heart of Prairie Village, KS with a chic black-and-white color scheme, modular furnishings, and a large-screen TV
- This flexible studio space in La Mesa, CA with tables and chairs, a Bluetooth speaker, a break room, and modular furnishings
- This beautiful auditorium in Conyers, GA with seating for 90, a stage, A/V equipment, and an outdoor area
As you can see, you can find well-equipped memorial-worthy venues in cities across the country. Contact your chosen venue’s host if you need help arranging the catering, musicians, a videographer to put together a memorial video, and more. They will be happy to help you in any way that they can.
Need a large, open venue? Then learn how much it costs to rent a community center and how to rent one here.
4. Ask guests to give speeches
While funerals feature eulogies that are usually somber and serious in tone, it is acceptable for guests to give more lighthearted speeches at celebration of life events. Invite friends and family to share anecdotes that are both heartwarming and humorous. Laughter is encouraged as this day is for celebration, not mourning.
Use Peersapce to find an auditorium near you so that you have the setting and equipment ideal for celebration of life speeches.
Give guests creative freedom so that they can express themselves in the best way possible. Open the floor for poems and songs as well, or maybe even artwork that can be shared.
5. Create a memory jar
Place a pretty jar, pens, and stationery on a table, then ask guests to write down their favorite memories of the deceased and drop them into the jar. Towards the end of the event, you can have guests stand up and share the memories in the jar.
6. Give back to their favorite cause
Invite guests to contribute to a cause that was meaningful to your loved one as a way to memorialize them. Think of the Betty White Challenge campaign sparred on by the passing of the beloved entertainment icon. If they were an animal lover like Betty, collect money for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) or supplies for the local humane society. If you lost your loved one to an illness, help fund research for a cure by donating to reputable organizations.
This allows the late loved one to make an impact even after they have passed on. There are many worthwhile nonprofits out there.
7. Pay it forward
Another option for giving back is to have guests pledge to commit an act of kindness in your loved one’s honor. This might be something like paying for a stranger’s coffee once a week for a year or volunteering at a food pantry every month.
Suggest activities that the honoree enjoyed or did often. Think “What would my late loved one do?” You can have guests write the pledge on a poster on a wall with their name for everyone to see. This is one of the most altruistic celebration of life ideas.
8. Hire a musician or band
Music is most powerful when played live, so in addition to creating a playlist, consider hiring a musician or band. It could be a cover band for your loved one’s favorite group or one that plays music from their favorite genre. Gigsalad is a great resource for finding talent, as is The Bash. Just be sure you have the space and outlets the musicians need to perform and be aware of the noise ordinances around your venue.
Remember, Peerspace can provide you with an ideal venue, while the host can help with arranging the entertainment.
9. Create a tribute movie or slideshow
Gather your favorite video clips or photos and create a tribute movie or slideshow set to music to honor your loved one. Use iMovie or Adobe Final Cut for this. Enlist the help of your most computer-savvy friends and relatives to ensure that the final product is polished and professional-looking. Play it continuously throughout the celebration of life event. A movie or slideshow will immortalize them and can be shared with family and friends for years to come.
Discover how to rent a screening room and how much it costs here.
10. Plan a symbolic activity
This celebration of life idea is a hallmark of the event. Most celebration of life events include a symbolic activity, like the release of butterflies, balloons, paper lanterns, or the planting of seeds. The activity you choose will depend on the person you are celebrating.
Bonus idea: annual retreat tribute
Keep the story going long after the celebration of life event itself. Honor your loved one annually by hosting a retreat-style get-together with their other family and friends on their birthday. Use Peerspace to discover and book gorgeous retreat venues near you.
One of our favorite options is this beachy cottage with a backyard oasis in Fort Lauderdale. While its interior is modern and sleek, its lush and charming backyard space is the perfect setting for gathering and continuing your loved one’s celebration of life.
It’s a beautiful way to continue their legacy through stories, meals, songs, and other activities you think are fitting. Plus, you create new memories in their honor.
Peerspace can provide a haven for your celebration of life ideas
Hosting an event that encompasses the personality of a loved one you lost (and does it justice) is no easy task, but these celebration of life ideas can help get your creative juices flowing. Creating a personalized event will help preserve their memory as they live on in your heart.
Start by booking a Peerspace venue that you think is suitable for the person and the occasion. And don’t forget that the venue’s host may be able to help you arrange catering, live music, waitstaff, and more. Mourning is challenging, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.