25 Creative Ways of Remembering Loved Ones at Christmas

Published September 1, 2020
Girl and mother gazing out of window at christmas

The holidays can be a difficult time, but remembering loved ones at Christmas can help ease the pain. Create new traditions that honor the memory of someone you've lost. There are lots of ways to make lost loved ones a part of your holiday season.

1. Create a Memorial Candle

Light is a comforting way to remember someone who is gone. You can make a memory candle to honor of your loved one during this special time of year. Choose a scent that your loved one enjoyed and buy a pillar candle. Then print a special message on vellum paper and wrap it around the candle. Add beads, Christmas ornaments, and other embellishments to make it special. Burn the candle each night during the holiday season.

Decorative holiday candle

2. String a Garland of Memories

Making a paper garland is an easy project, and it can also be a cathartic way to remember someone special. You can do this on your own or with a larger family group. Either way, take some time to write memories of your loved one on small strips of paper. Make a garland from the loops and hang it on your Christmas tree.

Boy making paper garland for Christmas

3. Send a Message on a Lantern

Use a sky lantern to send a personalized message to your loved one. Write a letter to the one you're missing this year and tape it to a sky lantern. On Christmas Eve or after the events of Christmas Day are over, go outside and light the lantern. Watch as it lifts off into the sky, carrying your message of love.

Sky lantern ready to fly

4. Decorate a Mini Tree for the Birds

Purchase a small Christmas tree and hang it with bird-friendly decorations. Think ornaments made of birdseed and holiday-shaped crackers. Place the tree by your loved one's grave or in a place he loved to spend time. Then watch as the birds enjoy the holiday feast.

Birdseed Christmas ornament

5. Make a Clothing Quilt in Christmas Colors

If you still have your loved one's clothing, you can make a shirt quilt in holiday colors. You don't have to be an expert with the sewing machine to do this. Simply cut red and green clothing items into same-sized squares. Sew the squares end-to-end to make strips and then sew the strips together. It's a simple design, but it allows your love to warm you during the chilly winter nights.

Christmas tree patchwork block

6. Make Their Favorite Recipes

Holiday meals can be distressing when there's an empty place at the table. However, you can make your loved one a part of the family dinner by making their favorite recipes. From classic Christmas cookies to that lime Jello salad they loved, you'll feel their presence in the familiar tastes of the season. Consider writing up the recipes and passing them out to friends and family during the celebration.

Making Christmas Cookies

7. Have a Family Bell Ceremony

If your loved one enjoyed It's a Wonderful Life, you'll love the idea of ringing bells this holiday. According to the movie, every time a bell rings, an angel gets their wings. Gather bells for everyone in your family and sit together by the fire. Close your eyes and ring the bells, listening to their music and thinking of the person you are missing.

Christmas bells with decorated tree

8. Set Up a Memory Jar and Read It Christmas Morning

Create the ultimate memory gift on Christmas morning by asking family and friends to place hand-written holiday memories in a jar. Leave the jar in a convenient place all month long and put it under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. In the morning, you can open the jar and read all the beautiful things others remember about this season with the one you've lost.

9. Volunteer in Their Memory

Is there an organization your loved one supported? If so, take some time out of your busy holiday schedule to volunteer. Serve at a soup kitchen, read at the local library, or help with an animal shelter. The act of doing something that mattered to your loved one will be a comfort.

10. Make a Holiday Scrapbook of Your Memories

In a quiet moment, get out that old box of photos and look at the holiday memories from years gone by. Then pick up some Christmas scrapbook paper and take some time each evening to make pages and record special moments. You'll have an heirloom that will be important to everyone in the family, and you can share it with others at your family dinner or celebration.

Cutting paper for holiday scrapbooking

11. Put a Memory in Their Stocking

It can seem strange to hang your loved one's stocking after they're gone, but it's also a good way to remember them. You can write a note or letter and put it in the stocking. Add a new one each year if you wish.

12. Make Cookies for Caregivers Who Helped

If your lost family member spent time in a care home or facility, you can bring joy to those who helped in the form of Christmas cookies. Make a big batch of cookies and drive them over to the home. Everyone there will be glad to get them, and it will be a great way to honor their service and the memory of the loved one you have lost.

13. Donate Warmth

If you like to knit or sew, work each evening this holiday to make mittens. You can use knitting mitten instructions or a mitten sewing pattern to make simple mittens in all sizes. Enlist the help of friends and family who have some extra time and want to be of service. Then, as Christmas nears, donate the mittens to a homeless shelter in your loved one's honor.

White mittens and knitting needles

14. Make a Memory Table Runner

This year, set your Christmas dinner table with a plain holiday runner. In addition to the usual silverware and plates, leave a fabric pen by each plate. At dinner, ask everyone to write down memories of your loved one on the runner. It will become an heirloom you can use for many holidays to come.

15. Start an Indoor Garden

Sometimes, it helps to see things growing, and caring for a living thing can bring you comfort. Start an indoor garden with some of your loved one's favorite plants and flowers. You can transfer it outside in the summer or simply enjoy it as it is.

16. Sing Christmas Carols in a Care Home

Get together with your friends and family and go caroling at a nursing home or care facility where your loved one spent time. Residents at these facilities can be lonely this time of year, and your family's gift of caroling will bring joy as well as honor the memory of your loved one.

Family caroling

17. Create a New Tree Topper in Honor of Your Loved One

Purchase a simple star or angel tree topper and decorate it with memories. Use pieces of your loved one's clothing, jewelry, and other special items. Write a personalized message on the tree topper and place it on top of your tree this year.

18. Make a Storybook of Their Life

Help younger family members remember the one who is lost by creating a storybook about their life. Make a photo book with pictures from throughout the years and tell the story of how your loved one came to be the special person she was. Give copies of the book to everyone in the family.

Person holding a photo album created and printed

19. Frame Your Photos With Memory Mats

Choose a favorite photo and frame it with a wide mat. On Christmas Day, pass the photo around so everyone can write holiday memories or wishes about your loved one. Then hang the photo each year as part of your holiday decorations.

20. Make Bracelets From Their Jewelry

If your loved one had a collection of costume jewelry, you can take some pieces apart to make recycled jewelry bracelets as gifts for everyone in your family. Choose a bead bracelet design and purchase other beads to go with the ones that belonged to your loved one. Then package up the bracelets and give them to people who will cherish them.

21. Donate Their Favorite Holiday Story

Did your loved one enjoy reading The Night Before Christmas or another famous holiday story? If so, buy several copies of the book and write a personalized message inside. Then donate the books so libraries, schools, and child care centers.

Books wrapped in red ribbon

22. Honor Their Roots

If your loved one was proud of their ancestry, choose a new Christmas decoration or special recipe from that cultural tradition. Serve Scottish shortbread for the first time. Decorate your tree with ornaments made from native wood. It can be something you've never used before, but the connection to your heritage will help you celebrate the holidays in a new way.

23. Create a Handwritten Reminder Ornament

Make an ornament out of your loved one's handwriting. Choose a letter or card and make a photocopy of it. Then roll out some craft clay and use a pen to trace the copied greeting in your loved one's handwriting. Poke a hole in the clay when you're done. When the clay has cured, you can hang it on your tree as a memorial ornament.

24. Decorate Your Tree With Wings

This year, cover your tree in wings. Find some pieces of white paper and make paper angels. You can add written memories to each one or decorate them with paint or glitter. The result will be a powerful reminder of your loved one.

Paper angel and glossy golden ribbon

25. Make a Stuffed Animal Gift From Their Clothing

Look through your loved one's clothing to find an old shirt or sweater. Then use a teddy bear pattern to make the clothing into a stuffed animal. You can give it to a grandchild or other young family member in memory of the one you've lost.

Your Holiday Memories Will Live On

The holidays are one of the hardest times of the year to be without a loved one. In addition to finding creative ways to honor your loss, be sure to take care of yourself. Get tips for dealing with grief at Christmas and ask for support from those who love you. The holidays are a special time, but they can also be a challenge.

25 Creative Ways of Remembering Loved Ones at Christmas