12 Thoughtful Celebration of Life Decoration Ideas to Honor Loved Ones

These meaningful DIY decorations are easy to make, and they're perfect for showing your love.

Published April 14, 2023
Mid century modern floral centerpiece for wedding

A celebration of life is special no matter how you decorate, but the right centerpieces, signs, and other decor can help set the tone for this important party. You can buy things to decorate, but there are so many great celebration of life decoration ideas you can make yourself for an even more meaningful touch.

Making a decoration doesn't have to be an elaborate process. These simple ideas are easy for anyone to create, and they will help you honor your loved one in style as you celebrate all they have meant to you.

Easy Table Centerpieces for a Celebration of Life

As you're planning the event, knowing how to decorate the different spaces will help make the celebration of life beautiful and meaningful. If you'll be having tables at the memorial, you can give each one a special centerpiece that's super personal. Try these celebration of life table decor ideas.

Customized Memorial Planters or Vases

Customized Memorial Planters

Use ceramic markers or paint to customize planters or vases as centerpieces. You can plant succulents and other easy-care plants in the containers or use them for cut or dried flowers. Don't worry if you're not handy at ceramic painting. No one expects perfection, just a personalized design.

Quick Tip

This can be a great celebration of life project for kids to do. Have them decorate the containers for each table if they were close to the person being honored.

Tree Branch Photo Centerpiece

This is a super simple centerpiece idea that lets you show off photos of your loved one at each table. Place a tree branch in a weighted container and hang printed photos its branches. You can decorate the container with the person's name. It feels like a natural tribute, and it's not too difficult to make these for every table.

Make a Memory Box for Each Table

Another great centerpiece idea for a memorial is to make a memory box for each table. Get a cardboard box and cover the outside in pretty paper. Cut a slot at the top where people can drop cards with memories. Add a sign on the side to tell them that's what the box is for, and include plenty of note cards and pens at each table.

Create a Custom Table Runner

Custom Table Runner

You can order a printed table runner with your loved one's phone and special words or memories, or you can make one yourself. Either have photos printed on fabric or stop by your craft store to get printable fabric to make your own. Then use spray adhesive and fabric markers to make custom table runners on any type of material.

Signs and Standing Decorations for Memorials

In addition to the tables, you'll need to decorate a space for guests to leave memories in a guest book and also the spot where people may stand to speak about your loved one. It's also nice to have a display as they enter the celebration of life that sets the tone. Try these ideas.

Photo Display of Your Loved One

These days, you can order anything printed up with a photo of your loved one, including a big welcome board. This can be a great option (and it's still super personal). If you want to go the DIY route, pick up some large sheets of posterboard and have some favorite photos printed. It can be a healing process to affix the photos and write your memories as captions underneath.

Your celebration of life poster board ideas can be anything you want - whether you arrange photos in a heart shape, have one central photo surrounded by other smaller photos, or group photos by different themes or times in a person's life, it can be a special way to decorate and honor your loved one.

Signs for the Memory Table

Signs for the Memory Table

It's a kind gesture and a healing one to allow guests to share memories in writing. Not everyone feels up to speaking out loud at these events, but everyone there remembers your loved one in some special way. Make printed or handwritten signs for a memory table with words like "Please write your memories here." You can leave a notebook and several pens on the table for people to use.

Simple Photo Banner

Make a very simple photo banner that can have a big emotional impact, especially if you hang it at the entrance to the event or near where people will speak. Just tie a piece of ribbon or string to two places and use decorative clothes pins to attach favorite photos. You can also make cards with the letters of the person's name and attach those to it as well.

Large Framed Photo or Favorite Quote

Celebration of Life Sign

Hanging a large framed photo of the person you're honoring is an easy and meaningful way to help people honor them. You can also make your own sign out of a favorite quote your loved one said, another uplifting quote, or a comforting message about their life. Choose a simple frame and a plain white mat for either one so someone looking at it won't get distracted by the frame.

Outdoor Memorial Celebration of Life Decoration Ideas

If you're holding the celebration of life outdoors, you can incorporate nature and the setting into your decorations. You don't want anything that's too easily damaged by a breeze or light shower, since you can't predict the weather for the event. These ideas can work really well.

Ribbons and Photos Hanging in Trees

Tie pretty ribbons to tree branches where you're holding the memorial service. Use a stapler to attach printed photos to some of the ribbons at eye level. As the wind blows the photos and ribbons will dance around.

Custom Garden Flags

Custom Garden Flags

You can purchase blank garden flags from the craft store and decorate them with your own design (this is another great way to get kids involved). Another memorable option is to order custom flags with your loved one's name and photo. A few people can take these home after the celebration and use them in their gardens to remember this special person.

Potted Plants in Painted Planters

If your loved one had a favorite color, you can use it to decorate planters for the celebration of life. You don't need to be fancy here - no lettering or photos or complicated designs. Just pick a paint color they would have loved and use it to paint plain planters. Then fill them with flowers or even small trees.

Glowing Memory Lanterns

Celebration of Life Lantern

As a table decoration or memory table centerpiece for an evening celebration of life, nothing beats decorated memory lanterns. This is an easy project too. Pick up some vellum at the craft store and cut it to fit the windows in glass lanterns. Write or print your favorite memories on the vellum in a thick black print, and use double-sided tape to attach the vellum to the outside of the lanterns. Then put battery candles in the lanterns and watch your memories glow.

Keep Your Loved One in Mind as You Decorate

Planning a celebration of life is an act of love, but it can also be stressful. Keep your decorations simple and fun to make so you can enjoy the process and concentrate on your memories. There's no wrong way to decorate for this kind of event if you have your loved one in mind as you do it.

12 Thoughtful Celebration of Life Decoration Ideas to Honor Loved Ones