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Five Unique and Affordable Ideas For Planning a Funeral, Memorial Services Or Celebration of Life

By Mary Hickey

I have often been asked for unique ideas for personalizing funerals and memorial services without spending a lot of money. I am going to share five ideas with you that you will find helpful as you go about creating the ultimate tribute to your loved one.

The first idea is name tags. You may not have seen name tags used at funerals or memorial services in the past. When people stayed in the same community their entire lives, name tags were probably not as necessary because most people knew each other. Today, children often move away from their childhood communities and parents often move to retirement communities. When people gather for the service more than likely they will see some new faces. Even if the faces are familiar, as we get older we tend to forget names and how we know someone. This can make social situations like funerals awkward. I recommend a name tag with an area where people fill in, "How I Knew Pam Smith".

Now attendees have not only the person's name but the relationship. A conversation such as, "Oh you were in Pam's painting group, do you paint landscapes like Pam did?" Avery labels that you can purchase at any office supply store work great for nametags. You can visit the Avery website to download the Avery template 5164. You can personalize the name tag with clip art, a favorite color, saying or if there is a theme to the service like flowers or butterflies you can incorporate that theme into the name tag. You may want to set a table at the entrance to the service where people can fill out their tag. Suggest that they write their name clear and in large print.

The second idea is to have a memory table. This table may be set up opposite from the name tag table or perhaps both tables could be set up along an entry way in a row. On the table you will want to place items that were important to the person whom you've lost. If they were into knitting you may want to include a beautiful scarf or sweater, photo graphs are also great to put here. If they were collectors you may want to include some of their prized items from their collection. Tickets to favorites sporting events or concerts would also be appropriate to put on the table. The idea is to capture the essence of the person on the table so anyone can see what this person was into. Golf scorecards if they were a golfer or if they were a gardener perhaps clipping from their garden. If they had a favorite food or candy you could have a bowl where guests could help themselves.

The third idea is a memorial or funeral memory or guest book. I prefer guest books that incorporate photos of the decreased and a space to write a bit about the life that they led. Instead of just having a book to write in names of people who attended how about if the person is encouraged to write how they knew the departed. A book full of names of people many of whom you don't know becomes a pretty meaningless book. Some books even have a place for memory cards. You'll read about them in the next idea.

The fourth idea is remembrance cards. The cards are designed for family and friends to write on at the service. You can use any 3x5 cards for this purpose, either white or colored cards. At the service, I recommend taking a break between eulogies and the person who is leading the service can suggest that people write their memory on the cards. A couple of relatives or friends can hand out the cards or they can be placed in pews or on chairs. It is best to incorporate them into the service; otherwise people will put them in their pocket and forget to send them to you. You really only have one chance to capture these memories.

These cards can be shared on holidays, the departed's birthday, or anytime you want to remember the special and unique person you loved and lost. These cards can then be handed down to generations to come. Make sure to provide extra pens, in case people don't have a pen with them.

The fifth idea is seed cards. These cards are made of special handmade paper that has seeds embedded into the paper. When you plant the cards, wildflowers or forget-me-not seeds will grow in memory of your loved one. You can place these in your garden, at the grave site or perhaps even where the cremated remains were scattered. The cards can be personalized with a tribute to your loved one at no additional charge.

I hope you've found these ideas helpful and that they help you to add a personal touch the life that you are celebrating.

Mary Hickey is an urn designer and thought leader in the funeral industry. For some drastically needed new life celebration ideas, contemporary memorial poems and verses, memorial cards and memorial gifts visit her site Next Gen Memorials. She is co-founder of Renaissance Urn Company, based in San Francisco.

Find these ideas and more at Memorial Cards and Funeral Gifts.

For poems, verses, and sayings, visit Funeral Poems.


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