A funeral is a chance to come together with friends and family after a loss. Though you’re likely to experience feelings of grief, loss, and sorrow, being with those you love most can be a tremendous support. Funerals are an opportunity to gather and say goodbyes formally. Luncheons that follow provide a space for even more healing.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Choose What to Serve at a Funeral Luncheon
- Funeral Luncheon Menu Ideas
- Funeral Luncheon Decoration Ideas
A repast after a funeral is when guests gather for an informal meal. This is an integral part of the grieving process in many cultures and religions. With so many ideas for a funeral reception to choose from, many opt for a funeral luncheon to comfort the bereaved family when they need it the most.
If you’re hosting a funeral luncheon for yourself or another family, you might need some guidance on where to begin. This guide explores several funeral luncheon menu ideas and unique ways to decorate in honor of the bereaved family and deceased.
How to Choose What to Serve at a Funeral Luncheon
What you choose to serve at a funeral luncheon is entirely up to you. This can be a highly personal choice, especially if you’re holding a larger funeral or you’re inviting many guests. What you choose depends on many factors, like your region, budget, culture, and the wishes of the deceased.
It’s important to recognize that there is no right or wrong choice for your funeral luncheon. You can have as much or as little creative freedom as you feel comfortable with. Consider these questions to guide your process:
- Location: Where will the funeral luncheon take place? If it’s an outdoor luncheon, you’ll want picnic-friendly foods that aren’t too messy. On the other hand, a typical reception hall leaves more flexibility.
- Guestlist: A larger guest list requires different food requirements. You might choose casseroles, buffet-style meals, or another choice that easily feeds a large crowd.
- Cooking responsibility: Who will cook the meal? Are you choosing a caterer, local restaurant, family friend, or someone else? Make sure to keep dietary restrictions in mind.
- Budget: Of course, it’s important to consider your budget. A larger, more complex meal is pricier than a smaller, intimate meal.
- Culture: Many choose to honor their culture, religion, or region with dishes they choose for a funeral luncheon. This is also a great time to incorporate favorite foods of your lost loved one.
Food brings people together. It’s a good idea to choose dishes that will bring comfort to the family, as well as simplify the planning process.
Funeral Luncheon Menu Ideas
There are so many different luncheon menu ideas to choose from, but having some inspiration helps! These ideas can be adjusted to any budget, guest list, or dietary needs.
If you are invited to bring a dish to a potluck funeral luncheon, make sure to ask the host about a theme or any dietary restrictions. And follow other basic funeral etiquette guidelines.
If the weather permits, plan a picnic. This is a casual, outdoor meal that can be held at any church, local park, or backyard. For your picnic, bring simple, quick foods that are easy to eat outdoors. Some ideas include:
- Potato salad
- Mac and cheese
- Fruit and veggie tray
- Iced tea and lemonade
Another simple choice is to host a potluck. These are ideal if you’re trying to cut down on cost. Have each guest bring a favorite dish, ensuring everyone has something they want to eat. If you choose to have a potluck, be sure to write a thank you note for funeral food.
This is an excellent idea because you don’t have to worry about expensive catering or time-consuming cooking. Here are the best things to ask guests to bring:
- Pasta dish
- Chicken dish
- Tea and coffee
- Napkins, plates, and cutlery
Pro-Tip: Ask guests to bring their meals in disposable trays. This reduces clean-up and ensures you don’t have to spend days tracking down who each casserole dish belongs to.
A unique, modern take on a funeral luncheon is to host a brunch. This is comfort food at its finest, and it’s perfect for an early funeral service. Some brunch menu ideas include:
- Fruit salad
- Tea, coffee, and juice
4. Comfort foods
We could all use comfort food on hard days, especially after losing someone special. A comfort food luncheon provides that extra TLC when it’s needed the most. Also, these foods are inexpensive and easy to whip up last-minute:
- Mac and cheese
- Mashed potatoes
5. Salad and sandwiches
For an informal funeral luncheon, don’t feel pressured to choose expensive, complicated dishes. In fact, you don’t have to cook anything at all. Finger foods are perfect for quick and easy grazing, and they won’t add much to your funeral budget. Simple foods to pick up are:
- Veggie tray
- Cold sandwiches
- Pasta salad
6. Italian feast
When it comes to a cuisine that feeds many, you can’t overlook Italian food. This regional favorite is sure to impress guests and is low-cost. Ideal for larger guest lists and family-style servings, this is a great option for any funeral luncheon.
In many regions, bringing casseroles to the bereaved family is the norm. Instead of bringing these to the deceased's home, they can also be taken directly to the funeral reception. Delicious and crowd-pleasing casseroles for a funeral include:
- Funeral potatoes
- Green bean casserole
- Meatball casserole
- Breakfast casserole
- Texas sheet cake
8. Classic family meal
Last but not least, serve up a classic family meal for a hearty dose of homemade goodness. Though better suited for smaller groups, it’s easy to customize this menu to fit larger crowds.
- Pasta salad
- Green beans
- Mashed potatoes
- Chicken or turkey
- Cookies, brownies, or cake
Funeral Luncheon Decoration Ideas
Aside from planning your luncheon menu, it’s a good idea to consider decorations. Though you can go as simple as you’d like, this is a lovely way to add something special to your post-funeral meal.
1. Family photos
The easiest way to add decoration is to use your family photos. These can include photos of the deceased throughout their life, as well as any family photos that put a smile on your face. Create a collage, large print-out, or include a special photo or two at each table.
Another simple idea is to use flowers from the funeral at the reception. Flowers are a gorgeous symbol of life, and they add much-needed warmth to any space. You can get separate flowers just for the repast, or you can reuse funeral flowers and save money.
3. Quote board
To add something inspiring in honor of the deceased, make your own quote board. Choose quotes that are meaningful to you and your family and use these as decoration. You can write messages by hand, print them out, or include them in a collage.
4. Favorite colors
When choosing the color scheme, opt for colors that were meaningful to your loved one. Whether you choose something in honor of their favorite sports team or favorite fashion statement, this carries a lot of significance.
Flags are another powerful symbol. Flags can honor someone’s home country, organization, sports team, school, or military service. Placing different flags throughout the reception space is sure to remind guests of the deceased and their passions.
Candles are used in many cultures throughout the world to honor the dead. You can easily light candles throughout the reception space in honor of the family and the deceased. If you’re worried about a fire hazard, use electric candles.
7. Memorial table
Last but not least, create a memorial table. This is a table dedicated to the deceased, showcasing different mementos and photos from their life. You can include things like photos, letters, and family heirlooms. Each token is a reminder that their legacy lives on.
Come Together for a Funeral Luncheon
After the death of a loved one, it’s important to spend time with those you love and trust. This doesn’t end at the funeral or memorial service. After this event, an informal funeral luncheon or reception is the perfect way to grow even closer. From sharing a delicious meal to honoring favorite memories, these small moments matter in a big way.
Whether you’re invited to a potluck funeral reception or you’re planning one of your own, be prepared with a delicious dish.