20 DIY Grave Decoration Ideas for Dad or Grandpa

Updated

When it comes to grave decorations, you might think of traditional items like flowers or plants. But when it comes to remembering someone as special and unique as your dad or grandpa, sometimes it can feel nice to think outside the box. What kind of DIY decorations or festive elements would they want to see?

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Even if you don’t find yourself visiting your dad or grandpa’s gravesite often, you can make your visits count with decorations. Remember that some cemeteries have strict rules as to what to leave at a grave, so check with them before embarking on a big creative project.

Also, you will want to keep the weather in mind when you’re shopping or creating, however, and consider how the decorations will wear over time. 

DIY Grave Decorations for Dad

Many young children love to create crafts for their dad or grandpa with seemingly unmatched motivation and excitement. Rekindle this same creative spirit by making something yourself for your dad or grandpa’s grave. He’ll appreciate it wherever he is, just as he appreciated those handmade gifts all those years ago. 

1. A poster

Making one or two single posters to liven up your dad or grandpa’s grave makes for easy cleanup. Plus, you can focus all of your artistic and creative energy on this one element — rather than many at once. 

You can also save this poster or even put it up in your home for safekeeping. It doesn’t have to be traditional. It can be an abstract representation of what your dad or grandpa meant to you. You can even incorporate some of his favorite imagery, a quote or a verse he lived by. 

2. Handmade cards or drawings

Creating a variety of handmade cards or drawings — even bringing along photocopies of originals you or your children have made — can be a great way to liven up a gravesite.

You can also involve other family members in this process and make it a group activity.  

3. Other crafts

You can bring other crafts to liven up your dad or grandpa’s grave such as painted rocks, paintings, chalk drawings, and more.

You don’t have to limit yourself to typical arts and crafts. However, keep in mind how these items will last outdoors or how easy they will be to clean up.

4. Sculptures or figurines

Creating sculptures or figurines out of clay or other materials is another family-friendly activity for decorating your dad or grandpa’s grave.

Choose items that are formulated for the outdoors. You can even get inspired by kits or garden décor and create something from found elements at your home. 

5. Cemetery flower holder

Depending on your loved one’s headstone or the type of flower holder you prefer, you may have to purchase one instead of making one.

However, there are plenty of varieties of cemetery flower holders that you can put together yourself.

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Store-Bought Grave Decorations for Dad

If you find yourself visiting your dad or grandpa’s gravesite often, you may not always have time to create something by hand.

There’s nothing wrong with buying things at the store to leave at their gravesite. In fact, you can find items that may seem impersonal and create a new tradition with them that’s actually very personal. 

6. Greeting cards

If you don’t have the time or the patience to create greeting cards yourself, there’s nothing wrong with buying blank or pre-filled ones from the store.

Consider writing your own messages in them, and recite them by your dad or grandpa’s gravesite as a way of healing and reflecting.

7. Flowers or plants

Flowers or plants are the most common store-bought decorations for a gravesite. Consider the time of year or your climate if you want something that will last.

Or, you can always outfit your dad or grandpa’s grave with a fresh plant or bouquet more often. 

8. Stuffed animals or characters

Many people choose to leave behind stuffed animals or other characters at gravesites or memorials. These items are created to bring comfort and joy in places not always associated with these feelings.

9. Sports memorabilia

Even if you don’t choose to leave sports memorabilia out in the elements forever, it may be a nice gesture to bring it along with you when you visit your dad or grandpa’s grave.

Did he have a signed bat, ball, helmet, or other piece of equipment? How about a favorite jersey or hat? Bring these things along with you if you don’t want to wear them yourself.

10. Balloons

Balloons are an easy, affordable way to add a feeling of celebration to any space. You may even choose to release a balloon or two above your dad or grandpa’s gravesite so that he can “catch it.”

You can pick from a variety of shapes, styles, and colors, and even choose something that shows off one of his favorite characters.

11. A case of his favorite beer

Leaving out actual food or beverages for someone who can’t physically enjoy them may be silly, but it is considered as symbolic.

If the gravesite allows it, you can always enjoy a round in your dad or grandpa’s honor right there in the yard. However, you can always just pour one out for him the next time it’s appropriate. It also doesn’t have to be beer — it can be another favorite beverage of your father or grandfather’s, such as chocolate milk, tea, or vodka. 

Father’s Day Grave Decorations for Dad

If you’re going through your first father’s day without your dad, not giving him a gift or spending physical time with him may be tough. However, you can still celebrate in different ways by visiting his gravesite and leaving behind some mementos or refreshments you would be sharing anyway. 

12. Sentimental items

Bringing sentimental items out to a gravesite can be tricky. If you’re bringing them with you to help you feel your father’s presence for the time being or the duration of the visit, that’s great.

However, be careful not to leave anything behind that you wouldn’t want to subject to the elements or otherwise lose.

13. A piece of cake

If your dad or grandpa had a sweet tooth, consider bringing him a slice of his favorite cake or pie. Bring a few extras and enjoy some with him.

Think about some of the conversations you have shared or would be sharing if he were still here today. 

14. A new hat or tie

Did your dad or grandpa sport a signature line of hats? How about ties or bowties? Outfit his gravesite in style with something new.

He may not be around to physically wear it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a special way to honor his memory and fashion sense. You can even opt for something outlandish or silly if your dad or grandpa had a unique sense of humor. 

15. A cigar or two

Leaving out a cigar or two for your dad or grandpa is a great way to celebrate father’s day. It’s likely that he celebrated becoming a father in a similar way. 

Leave a special note, too. Read our guide on how to say "Happy Father's Day in Heaven, Dad" for some ideas.

Holiday or Christmas Grave Decorations for Dad

Celebrating the holidays without your dad or grandpa can be tough. However, you can still include them in the festivities by decorating their grave accordingly.

Depending on where you live or what kind of winters you experience, you can even use mother nature to your advantage. Here are some more tips for getting through your first Christmas without your dad

16. A few cookies or his favorite treat

Bringing a few cookies or your dad or grandpa’s favorite holiday treat to enjoy with him is a good idea for visitors of all ages.

You can set aside some time during your typical (and likely busy) holiday festivities to enjoy each other’s company as well as reflect on your dad or grandpa’s passing. Though it may sound somber, you all can liven up the gathering by singing a Christmas carol or two or by sharing funny stories about your late loved one. 

17. A festive wreath or garland

Wreaths and garlands can add a great deal of flair around our homes during the holidays. Continue this same spirit at your dad or grandpa’s grave.

Depending on your climate and the graveyard where they are located, you may choose from a live wreath or garland or from something made with faux elements. Try to choose something that adds just the right amount of a festive touch to the gravesite without overwhelming it. 

18. A grave blanket

Grave blankets can be created throughout the year, however, it’s common to lay them out prior to the first snow. Grave blankets are arrangements of foliage that cover the area of a grave to make it appear more lively — even during harsher winter months.

Grave blankets are typically made out of heartier plants like evergreen that can withstand colder temperatures. However, if you live in a warmer climate, perhaps you can request a more varied arrangement.

19. A snowman (weather permitting)

Building a snowman or two in your dad’s honor is a festive way to enjoy the season and honor his memory. Of course, if you live in an area where snow isn’t likely, you can get creative and build a snowman in other ways.

Construct one out of plants or even craft materials to add a wintery, but weather-appropriate touch to your dad’s grave. You may also be interested in these different ways to say “Merry Christmas in heaven, Dad.”

20. Other holiday décor

If your father celebrated other holidays in his life or had ties to another religion, consider incorporating these elements at appropriate times of the year.

This can even include smaller or worldwide non-religious holidays like St. Patrick’s Day or New Years Day. 

Celebrate His Presence

Gravesites may have different connotations for different people. This likely has a lot to do with your relationship with your dad or grandpa. Regardless of those feelings, you can focus on the positive by celebrating his presence and his impact on your life — if even in a small way by decorating his grave. 

Surrounding yourself in this space with elements that remind you of your dad or grandpa can go a long way in making it feel like he’s there with you, too.

If you're looking more ways to honor dad, read our guides on missing your dad on his birthday and what to do on your first Christmas without your dad.

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