Simple Finger Food Ideas for a Wake

Published September 8, 2020
people eating finger food at a wake

Serve finger foods for a wake or funeral reception to give mourners a little something to eat as they converse with one another. The selection should be simple to both make and eat.

Finger Foods for a Wake or Visitation

A visitation or wake is a time for mourners to gather prior to the funeral, often to view the deceased individual's body and pay respects to family members. During this time, small bites may be served to those who attend as a gesture of appreciation by the family. The finger foods are usually set up buffet style and may range from simple snacks to more hearty options. Recipes for finger foods made at home are usually easy to make with just a few ingredients.

Vegetable and Fruit Ideas

Have at least one vegetable and one fruit option for guests. If you're expecting a larger crowd, consider two or three options. They might include:

Homemade green kale chips

Breads and Rolls

Breads and rolls are easy to make in bulk, or inexpensive to purchase, and provide a filling option for mourners. Consider:

Buttermilk biscuits

Meat and Protein Ideas

Add a little protein to your finger food buffet with these options. Make three to four so guests have a choice.

  • Deviled eggs
  • Pinwheels (tortillas with a flavored spread, vegetables, and deli meat, rolled and sliced)
  • Cocktail wieners with barbecue sauce and toothpicks for serving
  • Slow cooker meatballs (provide toothpicks for skewering)
  • Mini ham and cheese quiche (use a muffin tin to bake individual hand-held sizes)
  • Deli sandwiches on croissants
Deviled eggs

Dessert and Snack Ideas

Small sweets top off the buffet nicely. Consider having two to five offerings that differ from one another.

  • Brownie recipes and variations
  • Favorite cookies (sugar, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle)
  • Individual berry tarts made with puff pastry
  • Chocolate truffles
  • Milk, dark, and white chocolate covered strawberries
  • Cream cheese mints
handmade chocolate truffles

Themed Finger Food Wake Ideas

Favorite foods can also have a theme. This means putting together foods that pair well together, not necessarily decorating or creating an overt theme for the entire wake.

Breakfast Finger Food Wake Menu

An early or mid-morning wake means you should look for breakfast and brunch ideas for your wake. Include things like:

Baked quiche pie

Asian-Inspired Finger Food Wake Menu

If your deceased loved on enjoyed eating Asian foods, plan a finger food recipe that is inspired by his or her palate. It doesn't need to be completely authentic; just look for inspiration in those foods:

  • Egg rolls, spring rolls or sushi rolls
  • Chinese dim sum shrimp curry puffs
  • Skewered tofu char siu
  • Cubed teriyaki chicken with toothpicks for serving
  • Buffet style sugared Chinese donuts

Finger Foods for a Funeral Reception

Funeral luncheons or dinner receptions are held after the service. If your service is late morning or late afternoon, plan to serve slightly larger portions or have more options that may fill people up. Additional finger foods to consider adding to your funeral reception include:

  • Italian bruschetta
  • Gourmet baked Brie with pita triangles and crackers
  • Stuffed mushrooms with seafood or sausage
  • Shrimp cocktail with sauce in individual shot glasses (small bit of sauce at the bottom and two to four shrimp over the side of each glass)
  • Mini Rueben sliders
  • Lamb kabobs
  • French macarons
  • Mini cannolis
Sicilian cannoli

Tips for Pulling It All Together

When you plan the finger food wake or reception, you'll want to do a few things to ensure it goes successfully:

  • Have plenty of napkins and plates; some people may use two plates if they stay for a lengthy amount of time.
  • Even though you are serving finger foods, you may want to provide forks for those who wish to use them.
  • Scatter a few cocktail tables and tables with seating in the wake and reception areas so people have a place to set their plates down while conversing.
  • Put a trashcan in a corner near the buffet table so mourners see where to dispose of waste.
  • Have a designated waiter or family member gather plates for washing (if not using disposable).
  • Make sure you cover the buffet table with a cloth for an elegant look.

Planning the Finger Food Spread

Families hosting the wake, visitation, or reception at home may want to make the foods themselves. In that case, it may be simpler to serve cold or foods at room temperature. Utilize roasters and slow cookers to keep hot foods warm as needed. At the funeral home, church, or other location, you may be able to self-cater but check policies first. Otherwise, you'll need to speak with caterers and the location services prior to making your plans. Regardless of what is served, mourners will appreciate the food and utilize as a way to mingle with others during the event.

Simple Finger Food Ideas for a Wake