How to plan a celebration of life: To do list

Published: 25/5/2023
How to plan a celebration of life: To do list
How to plan a celebration of life: To do list

Planning a celebration of life can be a beautiful way to honour their memory of a loved one and celebrate their life. Many Australians are turning to celebrations of life, in fact, according to recent statistics, three out of five Australians prefer the tone of their funeral to be celebratory rather than solemn.

What is a celebration of life?

A celebration of life is a personalised way for friends and family to say goodbye to their loved one. Unlike traditional funerals, celebrations of life focus on reflecting and honouring the life of your loved one in a joyful way. 

When to host a celebration of life?

One of the great things about a celebration of life is that it allows families to take the time they need to plan something that's special and unique to their loved one. Typically, the family will host the celebration of life after the burial or cremation, which could be weeks or even months after the person has passed away. If there was a cremation, the family might incorporate the celebration of life with the ash scattering ceremony.

Celebration of life planning checklist:

Choose a location 

When choosing a location for a celebration of life, consider places that the deceased loved. This could be a park, beach or even a favourite restaurant. 

Decide if you need a celebrant

Like a funeral, you might find it helpful to use a funeral celebrant or ask a friend to officiate and lead the service. A celebrant can help plan the event, keep things on track and introduce speakers so all guests can be present during the ceremony.

Invite friends and family

Unlike a funeral, celebrations of life don't usually get advertised in the newspaper. Therefore, you might consider sending out electronic invitations over email or setting up an event on Facebook. Invitations also allow you to share specific details about what to wear, what to bring and if there's a theme.

Choose people to say a few words

During the celebration of life, you might like close friends and family to say a few words. Common readings might include a eulogy, poems, speeches, prayers or live music performances. You could also give the rest of the guests an open invitation to come up and say a few words after finishing the speeches.    RELATED ARTICLE: What do you read at a person's funeral

Group activities 

Celebrations of life can be personalised to the deceased and one way to involve everyone is by organising a group activity that honours the person. You might consider sending off a balloon or eco friendly lantern alternative, scattering the ashes or planting a tree.

How to plan a celebration of life: To do list
How to plan a celebration of life: To do list

Food and drinks

Consider incorporating your loved one's favourite food and drink into the celebration of life. You could also host a potluck BBQ or picnic and have everyone bring an item of food they shared with the deceased. Depending on their culture, the family might prepare specific foods for the occasion.

Music, photos and videos

A celebration of life is a time to reflect and celebrate the memories of your loved one. You might put together a photo montage or videos. You could also play some of their favourite songs throughout the ceremony and during the scattering of the ashes.

Decorations

While decorations might not be a priority for everyone, they can help create a warm and inviting atmosphere. You could add pictures of the deceased, flowers, candles or anything that represents the life they lived. You might even consider having a table with some of their personal belongings or a guestbook where attendees can share their memories and condolences.

Consider cultural and religious traditions

Consider cultural and religious traditions when planning a celebration of life. Depending on the family's beliefs, certain rituals or ceremonies might be expected. Some cultures might have specific dress codes, food customs or rituals that must be observed. If you're not familiar with the family's traditions, you could consult with them.

Consider a charitable donation

Many families choose to ask for charitable donations in lieu of flowers or other gifts. You could choose a charity that was important to your loved one or that supports a cause they were passionate about. You could include information about the charity and how to donate in the program or on a separate table at the event.

Assign tasks and roles

Planning a celebration of life can be a big undertaking, and it's important to have a team to help with the preparations. Assign tasks and roles to family members or friends  to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day. You might like to have someone responsible for setting up and decorating the venue, coordinating food and beverage or managing the program.

How to plan a celebration of life: To do list
How to plan a celebration of life: To do list

Allow for flexibility

No matter how well you plan, unexpected things can happen on the day of the celebration of life. It's important to allow for flexibility and be prepared to make adjustments as needed. Don't be afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks if things become overwhelming. Remember that the most important thing is to create a meaningful and heartfelt tribute to your loved one.

Hire a photographer or videographer 

While it might seem odd to hire a photographer or videographer for a celebration of life, it can be a great way to capture memories and create a lasting tribute to your loved one.   Planning a celebration of life can be a beautiful and meaningful way to honour and remember a loved one. Celebrations of life provide a relaxed and joyful atmosphere that allows friends and family to come together and celebrate the life of your loved one. There's no right or wrong way to plan a celebration of life - it's all about personalising the event to reflect the unique life of your special loved one.  

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