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Celebration of Life

Upbeat Celebration of Life Ideas

Discover unique ways to celebrate your loved ones after they have passed. Share memories, laugh, and honor the life that was lived.

By Hannah Purvis

We understand that not all celebrations are held under the best of circumstances. While this time is no doubt a challenge, some families prefer to take the opportunity to celebrate those they’ve lost in an upbeat way.

bouquet of flowers
Photo by Suhyeon Choi

What Is a Celebration of Life?

Growing in popularity over recent years and traditionally observed in various cultures, Celebration of Life events are exactly what they sound like. Gathering with loved ones to reminisce positively on the person they’ve lost rather than a somber ceremony of mourning.

Typically, these events follow the burial or cremation of the loved ones' remains as a sort of ‘closing ceremony’ and are meant to be relatively upbeat. The main focus of the celebration should be the things that your loved one enjoyed during life, so think of it as a last way to honor them and their legacy.

dirt path lined by pink and white flowers
Photo by Lynn Danielson

Celebration of Life Venues Near Me

If you’re looking for the perfect venue to accommodate your group, head to The Venue Report for help. Not only are you able to search via your location and celebration type, but you’ll also find incredibly unique and reputable venues. This tool will help ease the planning process so you can focus on what matters most.

Unique Celebration of Life Ideas

1. Destination Celebration

If your loved one had a favorite place that was especially meaningful to them in life, gathering a group and taking a trip there together can be a wonderful way to honor their memory. Use it as a chance to bond with their other friends and family and make new memories together.

rocks and palm trees on shoreline with sunrise
Photo Credit: Luca Bravo

2. Karaoke Tribute

A karaoke night may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning to say goodbye to a loved one, but it can be a fun way to turn a heavy situation a little lighter. Theme your karaoke evening around your loved one, by having everyone come prepared to take a drink in their memory and then sing one of their favorite songs! This can range from an emotional ballad to a downright silly song that was an inside joke.

person holding a microphone and singing
Photo Credit: MD Duran

3. Set up a Memorial Fund

Set up a memorial fund with Celebration Wishes in their honor and donate the money to a charity that was near and dear to them. If they didn’t have a particular favorite charity, consider what they enjoyed in life.

Did they love animals? Donate to the SPCA or World Wildlife Fund.

Were they quick to buy lunch for someone down on their luck? Find a local organization that partners with finding work and housing for the homeless.

A memorial fund is a great way to honor and continue their legacy long after they’re gone.

bouquet of flowers sitting on steps
Photo Credit: CA Creative

4. Host a Powerpoint Night

Another idea that can make for a really meaningful gathering is hosting a powerpoint night. While these events have gained popularity lately as silly themes for a girls night or birthday party, they can be a surprisingly great way to share personal anecdotes and memories with loved ones who are no longer with us.

Have your guests create a short powerpoint to share with the group, containing:

  • Inside jokes
  • Special memories
  • Stories to share with the group

This can get to be an emotional experience, but the intimate and light nature of the gathering will make a great space to connect and celebrate their life together.

group of people hugging
Photo Credit: The Good Funeral Guide

5. Potluck Dinner of Your Loved Ones’ Favorites

Gather friends and family for a cocktail hour and potluck dinner featuring your loved ones’ favorite foods. Dig up family recipes or create a list of things they enjoyed and divide them up between attendees. Cooking a meal in their honor and sharing memories over dinner is a simple way to say goodbye in the midst of good company.

birds eye view of table filled with food
Photo Credit: Stefan Vladimirov

6. Favorite Places Road Trip

Similar to a destination celebration, is a road trip based on your loved ones favorite places. This may not be conducive to a large group; however, for a small and adventurous group of close friends and family, it can be the kind of memorial that you’ll remember for life.

Map out some of the most meaningful places in your loved ones’ life:

  • Homes they’ve lived in
  • Favorite cities
  • Favorite coffee shops

Depending on how well traveled they were, this can simply be a day trip around your city or a week-long road trip spanning a few states!

sun shining into car while people are driving
Photo Credit: Darwin Vegher

7. Eco-Inspired Tribute

If your loved one had a green thumb or felt particularly close to the earth and environment, planning an eco-inspired tribute for their celebration of life may be just what they’d want.
Consider gathering their loved ones and each plant a tree in their memory. Get a plaque made to set by the first tree planted and spend the afternoon picnicking. Afterwards, share stories with one another.

 cluster of plants in their pots
Photo Credit: Markus Spiske

8. Sunset Cruise

Spend an evening on a chartered sunset cruise with friends and family and have those who knew them the best share speeches or anecdotes about their life. If your loved one was cremated, consider scattering their ashes at sea for a beautiful and natural goodbye.

sailboat gliding along waters surface
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Honor Them in a Way That Feels Authentic

No matter how you choose to celebrate the life of your loved one during this event, all that truly matters is that it feels authentic to them and your relationship with them. Focus on making sure you feel good during the celebration and that it honors them in a way that is meaningful.

Consider setting up a registry fund to raise money in their honor for a charity that was close to their heart. Or, use the registry to fundraise for funeral expenses and food for the celebration. Head to our homepage to learn more!

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