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12 ideas for a celebration of life

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A celebration of life is a social gathering that honors the life and legacy of someone who’s passed away. It often takes the place of a funeral or memorial service, but it can also serve as an additional way to honor your loved one. Sometimes, they are big, joyous parties, and other times, they are more lowkey, casual affairs.

When planning a celebration of life, there’s no right or wrong way to commemorate your loved one — it’s more about what will bring you and your friends and family the most sense of comfort and joy. You can celebrate however you’d like, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out our life celebration ideas below. 

What do you do at a celebration of life?

You can do all sorts of activities at a celebration of life event, from hosting a fundraiser to planting a garden. For you and your loved ones, the gathering might involve looking at old photos, raising a toast, and sharing memories. For others, it could mean visiting a special place or doing the deceased’s favorite activity. But above all, a celebration of life focuses on remembering and celebrating the person who passed away. 

12 celebration of life ideas for 2022

Whether you want to plan a big party filled with laughter and love or a more intimate and private activity, we’ve outlined 12 celebration of life activities in the list below. Follow along to find the perfect way to celebrate your loved one. 

  1. Create a special holiday

One idea for a celebration of life involves creating a special holiday every year in your loved one’s memory. Maybe your brother counted down the days until the start of baseball season every year, so you might host a baseball-themed party on Opening Day each April. Or, perhaps your uncle loved to grill, making an annual cook-off the perfect way to remember him. Invite all your loved ones to join you in the celebrations, and be sure to mark your calendar for this holiday every year.  

  1. Buy a star 

Adopting and naming a star after your loved one is another touching life celebration idea. For a small cost, you can name one of the billions of stars in the sky and receive a certificate with the star’s coordinates and name. And the best part? No matter where you are on Earth, you can always look up and see that star. To make it especially memorable, bring a telescope to the celebration of life event so everyone has the opportunity to admire the special star. 

  1. Make a donation in their name

Celebrating one’s life could mean donating to a cause near and dear to them. Maybe you’ll raise money for the American Heart Association in honor of your coworker or donate in your wife’s name to the American Civil Liberties Union and Foundation. Better yet, you could even open up a scholarship or fund in their memory. But if you’d like it to be more of an event, you could always host a fundraiser, like a walk-a-thon or 5K run, so all your loved ones can participate. 

  1. Organize a destination celebration of life

Did your mom have a favorite vacation spot at the beach? Did your husband love skiing in the mountains? If so, plan a destination celebration of life in that memorable place. Round up your friends and family and spend your time engaging in your loved one’s favorite activities. In honor of your mom, that might mean swimming in the ocean and eating blue crabs. As for your husband, you could head to the local ski resort and carve up the slopes. Simply being in a place they enjoyed can bring a sense of peace. 

  1. Scatter their ashes

When it comes to the best celebration of life activities, many people find comfort in spreading their loved one’s ashes. Whether you decide to scatter them on your own or with a group of friends or relatives, there are many ways you can go about it. For instance, you could scatter them at sea, along their favorite hike, or even in a private spot in your backyard. If your loved one enjoyed a connection with nature, placing their ashes at the base of a memorial tree that helps conserve forestland may be a meaningful option.  

Read more: What makes a Better Place Forest memorial ceremony unique

  1. Commission a memorial bench

If your cousin loved surfing at the beach or your grandpa enjoyed walking around the local lake, dedicate a memorial bench to them in that special area and unveil the bench for everyone to admire at the celebration of life. The beauty of this idea is that whenever you’re missing your loved one, you can visit their bench, reflect on their life, and soak in their favorite surroundings.  

  1. Contribute to their favorite charity

Giving back is a thoughtful celebration of life activity that continues your loved one’s legacy. For example, if your aunt was passionate about feeding the homeless, you could organize a soup kitchen event where all your loved ones gather and cook for the community. Or, if your sister was an avid volunteer at the Humane Society, you might host an animal adoption event, spend the day helping out at your local shelter, or even adopt or foster a pet in her name. 

  1. Create a video montage or scrapbook 

Some people turn to old photos and videos as a way of remembering those who have passed away. If this is the case for you, consider creating a video montage or scrapbook of your loved one. Not only is it a way to celebrate them, but it could provide you with a way to channel your emotions. Reach out to your friends and family members for video or photo contributions and share your creation for others to enjoy at the celebration of life. 

  1. Plant a tree (or garden) in their honor

One beautiful way of celebrating your loved one’s memory is by giving life to something else, such as planting a tree, plant, or garden. Invite others to join you by digging holes, laying mulch, and planting seeds in your loved one’s name. Everyone who knew and loved them will enjoy visiting this living reminder and watching it flourish. 

  1. Create cremation jewelry or artwork 

Designing cremation jewelry or artwork is another meaningful celebration of life idea.  There are many ways to incorporate your loved one’s ashes into something beautiful, from pottery to paintings. For instance, you and your siblings could design matching lockets that hold your mother’s ashes, or maybe you and your spouse would like to commission a piece of artwork made with your daughter’s remains.

  1.  Host a dance party

Another joyous way of celebrating someone who’s died is by creating a playlist with all their favorite tunes and hosting a dance party in their memory. Singing and dancing the night away can be extremely cathartic, especially when surrounded by loved ones, so turn up the volume and be the first one on the dance floor. 

  1.  Design matching tattoos

If you, and those close to you, are mourning the loss of someone special, you might consider designing matching tattoos in their honor. For example, you could get your grandma’s initials placed on your wrist or a quote in your friend’s handwriting along your foot. Getting a group tattoo can be a special bonding experience that provides a way to celebrate the life of the one you miss. 

Celebration of life ideas for your mom

If you’re looking for celebration of life ideas for your mom, consider what she treasured most in life. For example, if your mother loved tending to her rose garden, scatter her ashes there or inquire about planting a rose garden in your local park. If she was an avid reader, perhaps you could donate her books to a homeless shelter or start a book club in her name at her favorite library. If she simply loved gathering with friends and loved ones, you might host a dinner party where you enjoy her favorite food, drinks, and music, spending the evening making toasts and sharing memories in her honor. Any way you celebrate her life is sure to be a meaningful tribute. 

Celebration of life ideas for your dad

If you’re interested in coming up with celebration of life ideas for your dad, reflect on his life and legacy. Maybe your father was passionate about coaching Little League. In that case, perhaps you could sponsor a baseball team in his honor or host a charity baseball game and invite all his friends and family to play. If camping was his favorite pastime, you might host a special gathering at his favorite campsite. From contributing to a good cause to partaking in his beloved activities, there are countless ways to honor your father’s time on Earth. 

Celebration of life ideas for your husband

If you’re having trouble brainstorming celebration of life ideas for your husband, a good starting point might be thinking about the things that made your spouse smile. For example, if the ocean was their happy place, plan a “paddle out” ceremony, where friends and relatives can swim out on surfboards and paddleboards at a special time and place to honor his memory. If he loved cooking, put together a cookbook with his favorite recipes and share it with his friends and relatives. Whether you host an event or create something in his memory, your celebration is certain to be a loving affair. 

While there are so many celebration of life ideas out there, the best celebration is the one that provides you and your loved ones with a space to spread love, share memories, and support one another during this difficult time. 

Read more: Memorial service ideas for for family and loved ones

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