20+ Unique Funeral & Memorial Service Favor Ideas

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Everyone loves greeting a keepsake from a special event. Whether it’s a wedding or a birthday party, most hosts give out party favors. They serve as a tiny thank-you for attending, and are a fun way to remember the event. If you’re into scrapbooking or saving mementos, party favors are a great addition to your projects. 

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A less common tradition is to give out funeral favors. Since the occasion is a somber one, the inclusion of a party favor might seem like poor taste. And if you’re coordinating the event, adding this to the to-do list might feel like too much. 

If you have the time to do it, though, funeral and memorial gifts can be a lovely way to honor your loved one. And they’re a simple way to say thank you to all the guests for attending the service.

No matter what your budget is, you can still come up with something that helps people remember the day. And more importantly, remember the person they loved. 

Virtual funeral tip: If you're planning a virtual funeral with a service like GatheringUs, you can still give your guests unique gifts. Send them through the mail after the funeral, or give a virtual gift, like a playlist of music from the service. 

DIY Funeral Favor Ideas

If your budget is tight, you might not be able to buy anything premade. But don’t let that deter you. A DIY gift is unusual and each one will be a little different. And the thought and effort you put into your favors will make them treasured keepsakes. 

1. Make a Christmas ornament

If your loved one’s favorite holiday is Christmas, an ornament may be the best way to honor them. But try to be sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of other people. If you’re confident that everyone attending the funeral loves celebrating Christmas, this is a great idea. 

Polymer clay is the best type of material to work with to create these decorations. If you don’t want to buy anything or your budget is tight, you can make salt dough with flour, water, and salt.

You can make these ornaments in the shape of the deceased’s favorite items or activities. Or, you can make a simple shape like a heart. Don’t forget to add a hole so you can hang it up. Once shaped the dough will need to be baked. Once you’ve baked it, the possibilities are endless. Try painting it, attaching decorations to it, or simply stringing it up on your tree. 

2. Cookies

Making a sweet treat seems like a very simple gift. But after a sad day, a little sugar might be just the thing. Make sure to check for allergies before you start baking. If you don’t know the full guest list for the service, try to include a list of the ingredients with the cookies. 

If you make a batch or two, you can bag them up with a cute bow for gifting purposes. If you have the deceased’s favorite cookie recipe, you can use that for this favor.

3. Photo albums

You might be envisioning a huge album, one fit for lugging out to the coffee table over the holidays. But it doesn’t need to be that big! You can create a small photo spread for each person attending.

Depending on how you choose to make your album, there are a lot of options for displaying it. It could be framed, put on their fridge, or displayed it in their home like a poster.

If you’d like to make a tiny album, you can do it with little binders and clear plastic sheet protectors. If you want to do something fancy, try decoupage and memorial collages

4. Make a soundtrack

Usually, party favors are meant to be something you can hold in your hand and tuck in your pocket. They’re not meant to be intangible. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. Especially if your loved one always made their music choices know this is a great gift.

And making a soundtrack is a great way to bring back fond memories. If your service isn’t too formal, you could even consider playing the soundtrack as part of the day. 

5. Hand out coffee

We all know that one coffee maniac in our lives. They have an entire shelf dedicated to coffee mugs. And they never go without their morning cup of joe.

What better way to remember them than handing out fragrant, delicious sachets? You could offer a variety of roasts, or pick one you know the deceased loved.

Unique Funeral Favor Ideas

Wedding favors, birthday favors, funeral favors… don’t they all tend to run together over time? Not at all. You can change it up however you’d like—there’s no rule book you have to follow. 

6. Temporary tattoos 

Some people love tattoos. Others get them in memory of a loved one, to keep them close. But tattoos aren’t for everyone. Religious beliefs, stigmas, and permanence are all reasons people might choose not to get a tattoo. 

The process of applying temporary tattoos is a great group activity. You can copy a tattoo your loved one had. Or, you could do a simple, sentimental phrase. Some websites will customize temporary tattoos for you. Just make sure you have enough, especially if there will be kids attending the service.

7. Memorial handkerchiefs 

Few people use handkerchiefs anymore. They’re not practical in everyday life, so they’ve become a work of art. But many older people still carry them. If your grandmother always carried a handkerchief, it might be a sentimental object for you. And it might be something she was recognized for. If that’s the case, consider making handkerchiefs for your favors. 

Even if you aren’t particularly good at sewing Making these is simple. After all, handkerchiefs are just squares. If you have it you could use fabric from your loved one’s old clothes. It’s an extra way of keeping them with you. If you’re particularly crafty, you could embroider them with your loved one’s name and dates of birth/death. But if you’re not confident in your sewing abilities, iron-on patches are available. 

8. Window decals 

Lots of people have stickers on their cars. It might share a witty saying or a social media hashtag… these stickers are everywhere. Why not use your window decals as a memorial? There are companies that make custom sticker decals at relatively low cost.

Since a car is such a permanent object in most people’s lives, this memorial will stick.  If you know some people don’t put stickers on their vehicles, encourage them to use it for something else. Laptops, plastic tabletops, binder covers—the list of possibilities is endless.

9. Recipe cards 

Home-cooked food made from family recipes triggers so many memories. Maybe you always had a certain type of cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. Or Grandma’s sugar cookies were always baking when you arrived at her house. Whatever the association, the recipe helped bring people together. 

But after a loved one passes away, it can be easy for their recipes to die with them. But you can prevent that from happening. Copy the recipe out onto a decorated card, and pass them out at the service. 

10. Floral sachets 

Sachets can be tucked in a purse or a clothing drawer. They make everything around them smell sweet and floral. These are a sweet token to go with your condolences and are easy to make. If you have a small cloth sachet, tuck some dried flower petals inside.

Lavender buds or rose petals are great choices.  If you’re willing to wait until the flowers are dried this could be a really good use of funeral flowers. And it’s a beautiful way to honor your loved one at a later point, too. 

Practical Funeral Favor Ideas

You might not have a lot of money to spend on funeral favors. But if you’re looking for something heartfelt and practical, we’ve got some great ideas for you.

11. Candles

If you’re a crafty person, candles are very easy to make. But finding the money for supplies isn’t always easy. And if you want to make high-quality candles you’ll need high-quality supplies. A lot of novelty shops offer cheap candles. Consider purchasing tealights. They’re both cute and inexpensive. And they can be used for a lot of decorative purposes. 

Or maybe there is a smell that reminds you of your loved one. You could try to find a candle that has a similar smell. But go for the most subtle version you can find. What smells great to you might smell terrible to someone else. And some people have allergies or sensitivities to strong smells. You want everyone to be able to use your gift. 

12. Collections

Many people collect lovely, quirky, or practical things. Whether it’s Madame Alexander dolls or a coin collection, they might fill up a dresser or mantel. What are you supposed to do with these pieces after a loved one passes away?

You might not have room for them, but don’t want to throw them away. You can give them away as favors to the people that attend the service. They’ll treasure their special piece and your loved one’s collection will live on.

13. Heirlooms

This type of funeral favor is best reserved for small, intimate funerals. If only a few people are attending, this could be the opportunity to hand out some valued, sentimental items. Maybe it’s your grandmother’s Bible and her diaries, or your dad’s fishing lures. But make sure whatever you’re considering giving away hasn’t been promised to someone in your loved one’s will. 

If lots of people are attending, you may hurt someone’s feelings by leaving them out. In that case, it’s probably best to pick a different favor and give these things away in private. 

14. Matchbooks

Matchbooks are a practical gift, even today. But you can never find them when you need them! If someone’s lighting a candle or a campfire, matches are the quickest way to do it. Getting customized matchbooks is both cheap and practical. You can have them covered with the name and birthdate of the deceased. Or, you could customize the matchbooks with one of their favorite quotes. 

No matter what you pick, make sure that the handing out of the matchbooks is supervised. You don’t want any children at the funeral to get their hands on them!

15. Memorial wristbands 

Wristbands are a nice addition to a casual outfit. Depending on how they’re designed, they can even raise awareness for an organization or a disease. You can get them made in a variety of colors.

These can be placed in a decorative box or pail near the entrance. People can grab one before they come into the service. If you want them to be distributed to people who could not attend the service, leave a little note with the box that encourages people to take extra.

Funeral Favors With Plants, Seeds, or Flowers

Planting something in memory of a loved one is a great gift. It helps their legacy continue and contributes to the health of the environment. 

16. Tree saplings

You can find tree saplings at most small nurseries. They come in a huge variety, from cherry saplings to baby evergreen trees. Depending on what thrives in your area, you can pick whatever you like.

Think about where you want to plant it. Will you be caring for the tree? A domesticated cherry tree might not do well if you’re going to plant a tree out in the woods. If it’s being planted in a cemetery a few hours away, it will need to be able to survive on its own. Consider finishing the funeral with a family tree-planting service. It’s a beautiful way to bring everyone together. 

17. Miniature orchids

You might not be much for a large-scale project like a tree. But something small might be a lovely alternative. Most people love orchids. And growing them in your home is even better. They’re a permanent reminder of a loved one.

A strong, resilient plant, orchids tend to do well even if they’ve been neglected. If you know that members of your family don’t have a green thumb, this is a great gift that won’t wilt easily.

18. Giving seed packets 

Was your loved one an enthusiastic gardener? Or did they love plants and flowers? If so, seed packets are one of the most rewarding, inexpensive funeral favors. You can tuck a packet inside a funeral handout.

Or, you can place seed packets in a decorative pail near the guestbook. No matter how you give them out, be sure to go with some variety. An assortment of seeds that represent the kinds of plants your loved one grew would be a nice touch.

Keep in mind that not everyone has the space to grow things like carrots or lettuce, though. Stick with simple varieties. Almost everyone can grow some morning glories in a pot if they have a balcony and a little sunshine. 

19. Make a bouquet

You might be inundated with flowers from the funeral. There might be too many to display at the service. If you’ve covered the casket and the decor is taken care of, what else can you do? You could use the remaining flowers to make tiny bouquets. And then place a little bouquet at each seat for those attending the service. Or if you’re hosting a reception after, they can be set at each place.

Flowers make a great keepsake to take home. They can be dried and kept as a reminder of the deceased. It also makes sure that no one’s carefully selected flowers are wasted or unused. 

20. Seed crosses 

Seed crosses are gorgeous, even before planting. These colorful crosses serve as decoration but are made of recycled paper with seeds embedded in them. Once they’re planted, they start growing in a carpeted cross pattern. 

Since seed crosses are so easy to plant, this could be a great activity for a family after a funeral. Or you can hand them out to all the attendees to plant in a place that has special significance to them. 

Planning the Event

Unless your loved one started end-of-life planning, you might be guessing what they wanted. From funeral favors to service location, you might be floundering.

But you’re doing your best. That’s all you can do, and the love you’re putting into these favors and the ceremony is what matters. 

If you're looking for more unique funeral ideas, read our guides on strange funeral traditions from around the world or about the different types of funerals.

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