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20+ Unique Funeral Personalization Ideas

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Funerals are a valuable part of the grieving process. They give surviving family members and friends a chance to celebrate the life lived rather than the life lost.

As families find themselves in a position to plan services, many seek ways to make them more meaningful. That’s where personalization comes in.

From customized memory boards showcasing special photographs to music and mementos, the popularity of personalization is on the rise. Personalization gives families a chance to add special touches to the service that remind them of their loved one as they say their final goodbyes.

As your family prepares for services, consider these personalization ideas to help tell the story of your loved one’s life.


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1. Select an Unique Casket or Vault 

Caskets are available both online and offline, with designs that provide deep associations with the life you are commemorating. Crafted from a variety of different materials, including wood and metal, they may be engraved with the person’s name. Interior panels may contain photographs or paintings that are important to your loved one as well.

2. Incorporate Favorite Clothing

A simple way to personalize a service is through clothes. If the service is open casket, take time to pick out your grandma’s favorite dress, or your dad’s favorite baseball hat. It’s important that you dress your loved one in clothes that are meaningful to his or her life. Plus, it’ll bring back memories for attendees who remember seeing your loved one in his or her favorite article of clothing.

3. Choose a Meaningful Flower Arrangement

A meaningful way to personalize a funeral service is with flowers. If your loved one favored daffodils or hydrangeas, be sure to incorporate such flowers into floral arrangements. The types of flowers you select can express specific sentiments of the deceased.

4. Arrange for Military Honors

If your loved one served in the United States Armed Forces, talk with the funeral home about military honors. With proper documentation, a funeral home can arrange for special observances, including a gun salute, color guard, flag representation and more. These are just some of the unique aspects that go into personalizing a service for a hero.

>>>Related Resource: Read 3 aspects of planning a funeral for a veteran or public servant.

5. Involve a Certified Celebrant

If you do not have an officiant in mind for the funeral, Certified Celebrants can help you conduct a personalized tribute. At Busch Funeral and Crematory Services, our celebrants are trained to listen to families and honor their wishes by incorporating meaningful touches into the service that honor the life and legacy of your loved one.

>>>Related Resource: Learn how to create a personalized tribute for a loved one with a certified celebrant.

6. Display Personal Belongings

Another way to personalize your loved one’s funeral service is to display personal belongings. Consider their hobbies and passions. Did they have a favorite sports team? A favorite season? By displaying personal items, you help those in attendance get a better understanding of what your loved one valued in life.

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7. Show a Tribute Video

As you plan services, talk with the funeral home about their audio and video technology capabilities. When considering your personalization options, you may decide to share your loved one’s life story with a tribute video or photo slideshow that you can broadcast to others.  

>>>Related Resource Enrich Your Loved One’s Life Celebration with These 4 Technologies

8. Design a Memorial Card

When searching for ways to personalize a funeral service, a memorial card is a great place to start. Cards with pictures of achievements, statements, verses and readings are a lasting reminder of your loved one’s life. It can also serve as a keepsake for attendees to take home after the funeral, as well as a guide throughout the service.

9. Play Music

Did your loved one play an instrument? Who was their favorite band? Music is a great way to personalize services.

If the funeral home has speakers available, share a personalized playlist before, during or after services. You may also choose to have someone sing or play an instrument. Whether it’s through comforting sounds or familiar lyrics, music heals the soul.

10. Include Readings 

Having close friends say a few words about the person who passed adds a personal touch to the funeral. For example, a special quote or verse could be read in honor of your loved one. Or if someone feels a calling to deliver a eulogy, allow him or her to do so.

11. Showcase Organizations 

Whether it’s a charity, organization or nonprofit, these communities are often an invaluable treasure in a person’s life. Be sure to showcase the communities your loved one belonged to by incorporating colors, emblems or logos into the service decor.

Some families also ask service attendees to donate to a charity or organization in lieu of flowers.

12. Light Candles

Did you know your sense of smell is closely linked with memory? If your family can recall a certain scent that reminds them of your loved one (think: your mom’s apple pie), consider lighting a few candles to add a healing aroma to the service.

13. Offer a Memorial Stone Station

Did your loved one enjoy gardening? Set up a station with small stones for guests to write their names with a brief note. Your family can choose to keep the rocks at home or in the garden, or scatter them elsewhere that’s meaningful to the deceased.  

14. Incorporate Their Favorite Holiday Decor

What was your loved one’s favorite holiday? Whether they enjoyed decorating with pumpkins or trees, be sure to incorporate their favorite decor into the service as a reminder of all the fun times your family spent together with him or her over the holidays.


15. Rethink the Traditional Guestbook

Guest books are a great way to record everyone in attendance at the funeral, but how often do people actually flip back through the list of names? Instead of sticking with the traditional guestbook, invite guests to write a personal note on a signature picture frame that encloses a photo of your loved one. This will be a comforting piece of art that your family can display at home for years to come.

16. Encourage an Unplugged Service

In an effort to help everyone enjoy the moment, encourage an unplugged service. Ask guests to simply put down their cell phones and cameras to soak up the beautiful service you’ve planned.

17. Take a Moment of Silence

In the midst of planning services, it’s rare family members take a second to process everything surrounding the death. Take a moment of silence during the funeral to collect your thoughts and feelings. Use this time to connect with your loved one in a way that feels right to you.

18. Give Out Living Memorials

Living memorials are part of a growing trend towards honoring life, rather than death. The idea is to shift the focus of the funeral away from the death and towards a celebration of their life as it lives on in the memories of their close family members and friends. Give out seeds or saplings as a living memorial for guests to plant on their own.

19. Offer Their Favorite Food or Beverage 

Was your loved one known to order the same meal every time they went out to their favorite restaurant? Or did they have a recipe they were famously known for cooking? Whatever it may be, consider offering their favorite food or beverage at the luncheon. This is a simple way to commemorate their memory.


20. Showcase a Photo Memorial Board

We’ve all heard the saying “Pictures are worth 1,000 words.” Gather photos that showcase your loved one’s life—consider pictures from different stages of life, big milestones or photos with each member of your family—to display on a memory board.

This can also provide a way to bring family members together pre-services to go through memories and share stories.

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21. Light Up the Sky with Lanterns

Lighting lanterns is a beautiful way to celebrate the passing of a loved one following services. Before releasing them, consider decorating the lanterns with drawings or messages. This can be a unique way to involve children before or after services.

Preplan Funeral Services to Document Preferences for Personalization

Which personalization items would you prefer at your own final arrangements? When you preplan, you can document personalization elements for your own funeral service to ensure everything is accounted for ahead of time. For more information on the emotional and financial benefits of preplanning, download The Seniors’ Guide to Funeral Arrangements: How Preplanning Can Save Time, Money and Worry.

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2017, and has been updated to be more current and comprehensive.

Cathy Nichols
Cathy Nichols
Considers it an honor as a Certified Celebrant to listen to life stories, and then design and conduct meaningful tributes. Cathy also trains celebrants nationally, equipping them to share those legacies in ways that comfort and enlighten. Honorably serving Busch families since 2004.

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