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10 unique celebration of life ideas


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Be inspired with 10 ideas for a unique celebration of life funeral. Creative, personalised ideas for a funeral that celebrates a life well-lived.

Increasingly people are swapping the traditional sombre funeral service for a celebration of life. A celebration of life gives guests the chance to say goodbye to someone special and remember all the happy memories they had with them.

If you want your funeral to be a celebration of life, or you’re planning a celebration of life for a loved one, here are 10 ideas to make it an uplifting tribute to a life well-lived.

  1. Dress to impress

Choosing colourful clothes for a funeral

Ask guests to ditch the dark colours and go for bright and bold instead. More and more people prefer the idea of everyone in colourful clothes, rather than traditional black suits.

Some even go one step further, with guests asked to wear fancy dress to a celebration of life funerals. Sci-fi and superheroes are a popular theme.


  1. Share photos and memories

Collection of family photographs for a funeral

Because celebration of life services are all about being thankful for happy memories, it makes sense to ask guests to share their favourite memories of your loved one.

You can use a guest book and ask people to write an entry. You could display family photos and invite guests to share their own. Or you can get creative and provide labels, colouring crayons and somewhere prominent to display them – so that everyone can see and share the good memories.


  1. Get on the dance floor

People dancing at a celebration of life funeral

Instead of a wake after the funeral, many celebration of life services end with a party. If your loved one was always first on the dance floor, having a DJ or disco could be the perfect tribute.

It’s also a chance to play all their favourite music, so guests can remember all the best nights out with them.


  1. Travel in style

Motorcycle hearses for a funeral

Photos by Ponyegg and Ann Burgess

There are now lots of different hearses to choose from for a funeral if you want to add a little personality. Motorbike hearses are a favourite choice for bikers for their final journey.

VW camper van hearses have also proved popular. Some people have even asked to be carried to their final resting places in JCB diggers, tractors and fire engines.


  1. Go out with a bang

A fireworks display at a celebration of life funeral

What’s more celebratory than fireworks? Some people love the idea of saying goodbye with a spectacular firework display lighting up the heavens.

Specialist companies can even put cremation ashes into fireworks, so that when they explode the ashes are scattered to the winds. It’s a magnificent way to scatter a loved one’s ashes.


  1. Up, up and away

Colourful balloons released into the sky for a celebration of life funeral

Balloon releases are an uplifting, colourful tribute to a loved one. You can ask guests to write memories or messages on labels and attach them to balloons. Then stand back and watch them drift away into the sky.

Make sure all balloons are biodegradable to avoid harming wildlife.


  1. Personalise the coffin

Custom coffin with floral design

Coffins don’t just come in plain wood anymore. From colourful cardboard coffins to personalised patterns and designs, there’s something to pay tribute to anyone’s unique personality.

Some manufacturers offer coffins that guests can write messages on in chalk or marker pen. It’s a unique way to bring people together to talk about your loved one.


  1. Serve up favourite foods

A buffet at a celebration of life funeral

It’s traditional for food and drink to be served at a wake, but why not personalise the buffet by serving your loved one’s favourite dishes?

You could out goody bags containing favourite chocolate bars and sweets, as well as raising a glass of your loved one’s favourite drink in tribute.


  1. Parting notes

Funeral music playlist on an MP3 player

You can have almost any song at a funeral, depending on the policies of any religious venues you might be using. That means that you’re free to choose any song for a final farewell, no matter how unusual.

You can choose the theme of their favourite TV show, the anthem of their football club or just their favourite dance track that always got them moving.


  1. Ask guests to donate to charity

Woman making an online donation in someone's memory

Celebrations of life are also an opportunity to be grateful by giving back. Asking mourners for donations instead of flowers is an increasingly popular way to honour a loved one’s memory. Choose a cause that was close to their heart for a very personal gift.

If you’d like a celebration of life after you’re gone, you can make arrangements in advance and have a say in your final farewell. Find out more about pre-planning your funeral.


About the author

With a Masters from the University of Bristol, Jessica Hanson has worked in the funeral sector for several years, following the latest industry trends and writing about end of life planning. Jessica has previously written as a blogger for the Huffington Post, covering topics such as death positivity, understanding grief and how funerals are changing. You can find Jessica on LinkedIn and Twitter.