What to Bring to a Funeral: Gifts to Essentials

Published August 4, 2020
Bouquet of tulips in female hands

You can bring a few essentials to a funeral as well as gifts, as long as you know the appropriate items to take. You can learn what items are acceptable to bring to a funeral, and which ones are considered inappropriate.

Essentials: What to Bring to a Funeral

At first, you may think there aren't any essentials you'll need to bring to a funeral. However, there can be sudden changes in the weather, or you may need to assist someone who is grieving.

Being Prepared for a Funeral

When preparing for a funeral, think of the various scenarios that can occur and plan the essentials that can get you through any situation. For example, if you're attending a graveside funeral service, you want to be prepared for inclement weather. You may need to carry an umbrella, stash a pair of sunglasses, or carry a pair of gloves. Obviously, a funeral is an emotional event so you can bring a small package of tissues, a packet of ibuprofen and mints.

Can You Bring Gifts to a Funeral?

Some communities and cultures practice gifting at funerals, while others frown on the practice. Depending on where you live and your faith, you may want to plan to bring a gift to a funeral you're attending.

Types of Gifts to Bring to a Funeral

Some of the acceptable gifts you can bring to a funeral are sympathy cards, small food items, cards, and cash envelopes. If you live in a community or religious faith where such gifting is expected, then you want to choose the right type of gifts.

Flower Gifts You Can Bring to a Funeral

You have the choice of bringing a bouquet or single flower. You can place a single long-stemmed rose on the casket at a graveside service or present it to a family member. If you wish to bring a floral bouquet, then you can present it to the family at the reception that is often held after the funeral.

beautiful flower bouquet

Food Gifts to Bring to a Funeral

If you want to take a food gift, you may want to choose something other than the kind of dishes like casseroles ordinarily taken to the home of the deceased's family. This might be specialty chocolates, a unique specialty tea or coffee blend or a dessert.

Photo or Photo Album

A very thoughtful gift for the family is a special photo or a photo album of the deceased. This should include photos of the family and their deceased family member. Humorous photos are a plus and will help the grieving family recall happy memories.

Personalized Scrapbook

Another unique and often beloved gift is a scrapbook that chronicles the deceased's life. This is often a gift that the family cherishes as a wonderful keepsake.

Sympathy Cards for the Family

You can select a sympathy card to bring with you to a funeral. Choose a special card that conveys what you wish to say or add your personalized note or message.

Cash for the Deceased's Family

Another option you might want to consider is a cash donation to the grieving family. Some cultures and communities embrace this practice. You can hand-deliver your cash or check donation inside a sympathy card to the grieving family. Some cultures provide cash envelopes at the after-funeral reception.

Gift Certificates

You may decide that a gift certificate is a more appropriate gift for the deceased's family. You can choose a gift certificate for a restaurant, grocery store or local favorite diner. If the family is more open to other ideas, you could give a certificate for a spa day or session.

With deepest sympathy note

Charity or Other Donations

Often the family requests friends and family make a donation to a specific charity in lieu of flowers. You can make a donation in honor of the deceased. Most charities send a card to the family to let them know of the donation, but you can still add a personalized note inside a sympathy card.

Non-Charity Donations

You may prefer to make a donation to a non-charity organization. For example, if the deceased as a teacher at a local school, you might make a donation to the school.

How to Present a Funeral Gift

The grieving family is usually accessible after the funeral in what is referred to as the funeral reception. A more formal funeral reception will provide a gifting table where you can place your gift.

Presenting Your Gift to the Family

If there isn't a formal receiving line or the family isn't seated in an area to receive mourners, you can find a discreet moment to approach the family with your gift. You want to choose comforting words and keep your conversation compassionate and brief since others will be wanting to speak to the family.

Deciding What You Can Bring to a Funeral

There are several essential things you can bring to a funeral to ensure you have what you need. You can choose to take a gift to the family based on your culture and community traditions.

What to Bring to a Funeral: Gifts to Essentials