Memorial Service Decorations

Memorial Service Decoration Photo by S Hermann and F Richter

For successful Memorial Service Decorations, there are many sub-conscious and conscious elements that bombard you to say (or feel) 'this is a nice room'.  As humans we tend to use all or most of our senses to judge a place whether we 'like it' or 'don't like it' (feel uncomfortable).  It could be:


  • The physical size of the room - be it too big and intimidating or too small and claustrophobic.
  • Light and airy or dark and atmospheric.
  • The room's physical layout - square, round, rectangular.
  • The seating - raked, semi circle, formal with a centre aisle and so forth.


However, one of the most important elements that can change a room in to something special are the Memorial Service Decorations - creative and special Memorial Service Decorations.  Not tinsel, balloons and other 'party' items one thinks of as decorations. Theming a room to fit the personality or the way you want the Memorial Service to go is vitally important.

It can be tasetful, respectful and very fitting.  If the person you are celebrating was a bigger-then-life character, there is nothing wrong in being a bit OTT (Over The Top!) if you want and it is right for the person.

Memorial Service Decorations

In alphabetical order (no specific order) here are a list of ideas for Memorial Service Decorations:


Build a Cairn

On a table or on the floor, provide stones for people to balance stones.  This can be created either indoors or outdoors. It shows unity, building a community and working together. It shows unity and building a life; everyone supports someone else and thus builds memories together. A Cairn is a beautiful and wonderful thing to do.


Showing the pastime, hobbies, passion of the person the Memorial Service is for.

Place on Table, at the entrance or in a significant place in the room a feature of their collectibles. It could be a big or small feature – overstated or understated.

Whatever they collected or were passionate about, for example:

  • Activities they were involved in.
  • Charities they helped or were active with.
  • Coins.
  • Films.
  • Fitness (Zumba, The Gym, Work outs, Keep-fit classes, Pilates etc.,)
  • Hobbies (huge area...)
  • Holidays. 
  • Magic.
  • Military.
  • Sports (Football, Netball, Tennis, etc.,)
  • Stamps.
  • TV.

and so on...the list is as vast as there are collectibles.


Elegant, One Colour, or riot of colour – depends on the person and the ambiance you wish to set. Flowers can be in shape of air planes, motorcycles, footballs, guitars, gardener, fishing, police, Masonic, cowboy, sports teams, colleges, etc. As a centre display, this can be spectacular and a real focal point to the room.

Artificial flowers, in appropriate vases are an alternative. Today, artificial flowers can look so real and wonderful.  In quantity, they can be expensive.  Consider your budget and what are you going to do with them after the memorial Service.


Did he/she love, for example fast food?

  • KFC - as an idea, have empty KFC buckets, pictures, wrappers of the famous Colonel on various tables.  The buckets do not have to be filled with KFC goodies - but be filled with other items of interest. As a 'nibble' for guests, why not have a few KFC bites to hand?  If he/she frequented a particular KFC shop, why not approach them and ask them to donate something - a number of meals, decorations - what ever they are willing to do in their appreciation.
  • Beef Burgers McDonalds, Wendy's and the plethora of other Burger companies - as above.
  • Doughnuts
  • Fish and chips

With a portable camping-style gas burner, a pot of their favourite food/dinner wafting around the room can bring back some great memories and emotions – however, beware the smell / aroma must be nice and attractive to all. A not-so-nice curry (aroma to some) smell (to others) that is too pungent may be off-putting and a turn-off. Aroma wise, no matter how nice it actually tastes - it is the look and wafting aroma that counts!

For Food themes (styles of food),  if you wish to show 'dishes' he/she liked, think colour, style and shape.

Create a plate design to attract as opposed to food just placed or plonked on a plate.   Cookery programmes on TV and food photographers employ professional food display people (called Home Economists) to make the food look good on TV or in a magazine. You may not wish to go to that length, but creating attractive plating even if it is just fish and chips will go a long way - visual impact as opposed to correctly cooked.  Food does get cold and tends to be not as appealing (visually) when cold - especially fats, oils and butter.

If you both went on holiday abroad and loved that nation's food, why not recreate a dish from that favourite country.

As an example, Nationality themes (not exhaustive):

  • Scottish – haggis, whiskey,
  • Welsh – Welsh cakes, lava bread etc
  • Irish – Whisky, Colcannon,
  • French – Garlic, French bread, French wines etc
  • Dutch – Stroop waffles, Zalt Haring, etc.,
  • German – Beirstein, Curry worst
  • Greek – Feta cheese, olives
  • Spanish – Tapas, olives,
  • Thai – Pad Thai etc.,

Each country has a 'famous' or well-known dish.  There is a wealth of ideas to explore - if food was their 'thing'. Food can be a wonderful Memorial Service Decorations item - if done well and really thought about in advance.

One tip: if you are going to present a dish or two, practice making it; again not to eat it (to make it a Michelin Star tasting experience), but for how it looks.

Guest Photo-Montage

Create or make a blank ‘pin cushion’ board (or cork board). Ask the attendees – friends, family, relations to bring along a favourite photo of the passed-away person.  As they enter they pin the photo onto the board creating a beautiful collage of photographs. Covering favourite times each person had with him/her.

Ask if you can keep the photo they bring.  It can be difficult to keep track of who brought what photo if not labelled on the back.

Map of the World

People are travelling more and more around Europe and the world – for business and more importantly, for holidays.  We all have great memories of great holidays.

Display / Pin a large (over-size) map of the world onto a large board. With ribbon or thin coloured string stretch it from the country out to the side of the map. Attach a photograph of a holiday-snap or a memory photo.

If only a few countries were visited, multiple strings to multiple photos can be displayed from the same country.  It is not a map to ‘boast’ where we have been to,  but to show the great times ‘we had at these countries on holiday’. Most people can relate to this; especially if they have also been to that country. 

Memorial Candles

Memorial Service Decorations Candles can be of different sizes, styles for the theme you wish: Military, baby, mother, occupation etc.

The candles be used at/during the Memorial service or kept as a keepsake.

Real or flameless candles – ask venue if you are allowed to have real candles lit. Give them an outline idea of what you'd like to do, and when you would like them lit.

Memory Jar

On a table, place a large jar, lots of small pieces of paper and pens next to the jar.  Create a  sign/notice asking people to write down their happiest, fun, and most memorable memory. Once written ask them to pop it into the jar.

The notes can be read out at the memorial service or kept to enjoy later on.

Memory Table

One or many tables perhaps covering the life of the person; is a very visual approach and can be emotional;  School days (reports, school cap etc) early days, holidays (postcards, travel tickets, Photos) , Sports clubs or activities (fishing rod, Rugby scarf, Football boots, Season tickets etc), societies etc – each table covering a certain theme.

The table can become a talking point for many people; it creates conversation amongst guests and interesting  memories.  The props (‘of years gone by’) will certainly provide a smile on many peoples’ faces. “I remember that…”

Items that are no longer in use or around tend to attract the most smiling and comments.  A computer lover displaying a ZX Spectrum, a childs' space Hopper, and a million other ideas of bye-gone days.

Memory Tree
As with a Memory jar, purchase or make a ‘tree’ – wooden, out of card or any suitable material. Have small ‘luggage’ tags – with string attached.  Guests can write their memory on each tag and then hang it on the tree.

It could be called or titled:

  • A Blessing Tree
  • A Celebration of Life Tree
  • A Prayer Tree
  • A Sympathy Tree
  • 'George's (name of the person) Memory Tree
  • The Tree of Life
  • Our Tree


Large canvas to small photo frames – B&W, Colour, think setting of where the photo taken – to reflect the person/activity of the loved one passed away. Although it may seem 'a bit American' to have a large canvas photo of the person the Memorial Service is about.  Having an image in front of everyone can focus their attention on him / her.

Painting style photos are quite popular. Research the style of photo you would like and would most suit the person.  There are many companies on the Internet selling this service. Decide the size you would like and research the myriad of prices .

Where to place photo?
Big photos on an easel, small photographs on a table, individual photos can be placed on seats of the guests. A mini photo frame can be given to each guest (if budget allows)

Ideas for Photographs include:

  • Customized laser engraved plaques.
  • Customized urns with photo (Photo urns).
  • Large photos with backing for easels.

Pick a Colour

Tell invitees the colour of the service will be….pink/blue/purple/yellow – whatever colour you wish. The colour chosen can be the passed-away person’s favourite colour,  the colour of their football, netball, rugby, badminton etc. team colours. This can be a great Memorial Service Decorations theme idea without costing a fortune.

The room can be decorated in that colour (Memorial Service Decorations), guests can be asked to wear a tie, a shirt, jumper, dress, trousers and so forth in that particular colour.  This will lift the ambiance of the celebration.

Mood lighting of the colour you have chosen can be effective if not 'over-done'.  It can be very subtle and add a subconscious level of depth to the room. This naturally will not work with every colour of the spectrum. If her favourite colour was 'red', it may not go down well having the whole room bathed in bright red!

Colour sets our mood, for example:

Red - Hot.
Orange - is the colour chosen by Advertisers and corporates to indicate 'cheap' or cheapness.
Blue - Cold.
Burgundy - elegance and sophistication.

and so on and so forth.

Quotes and Sayings

If the deceased was a person that loved quotes, made quotes, quoted others – perhaps revolve around one or many of their own quotes. It can be part of your Memorial Service Decorations:

A board, posters or even 3x5 cards with Quotes for:

  • Life celebration.
  • Eulogies.
  • Bible verses.
  • Hymns.
  • Prayers, and even some.
  • off-the-wall humour.

    Just about everyone uses or has a stock-phrase.  This is a great time to pick-up on that.

Let's move on to SECTION TEN - Give-away, Take-Away and Afterwards


Sections to The Ultimate and Complete Memorial Service Guide:

Section ONE - The Basics
Section TWO - The Logistics
Section THREE - The Room
Section FOUR - Equipment
Section FIVE - The Bar
Section SIX - Catering and Food
Section SEVEN - The Invitation
Section EIGHT - The Service
Section NINE - Decorations
Section TEN - Give-away, Take-Away and Afterwards
Section ELEVEN - Memorial Service Summary