20+ Unique Urn Ideas for a Non-Traditional Loved One


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Not everyone wants to have a traditional funeral ceremony or urn. A loved one may provide details for their ideal celebration of life or funeral ceremony, but finding an urn that matches your loved one’s personality may leave you scrambling for ideas.

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As the funeral industry expands and modernizes to accommodate new ideas for folks, you may be surprised to see some unique urns and containers for cremains that you may not have considered before. Once you’ve settled on an idea, make sure to let the funeral home know. You may also want to be prepared to incur a small fee for each additional urn you need to be filled if others wish to keep some ashes as well. 

If you’re looking for somewhere to get started, here are some ideas to consider when it comes to finding a unique urn for a non-traditional loved one.

Tip: If you're looking for something very unique (think a favorite hobby, their beloved car, or instrument of choice), you can custom order an urn from a store like Foreverence. You submit a design idea or sketch, then the company designs and 3D prints your urn, so you get a 100% unique container.

Unique Urns for Mom or Dads 

Many parents can be tender, loving, and proud adults. They may also have some real rip-roaring jokes and distinctive personalities that inspire you to be creative.

However, when it comes to mourning the loss of a parent, you may feel that you can’t fully capture their vibrant personalities when memorializing them. Some unique urns for ashes can help you tap into your memories of them. That way, when you think of them, you’ll be pleasantly reminded of their unusual nature.

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

1. Vintage coffee can

Although you may think of this as an atypical urn for ashes, it might be just the ticket for that irrepressible and fun-loving parent of yours. Especially if they needed their morning coffee to get started every day. 

Pro-tip: You can find these cans online and at antique stores for a reasonable price.

2. Cookie jar or cookie tin

Did your mom or dad love to bake? If so, consider making your own cookie jar or look for an antique jar or tin that can match the theme you're looking for.

Pro-tip: Ask your funeral director to help you figure out the best size to purchase.

3. Pink Himalayan saltwater burial urn

Not only are these beautifully crafted urns, but they are also fully biodegradable. For a parent that loved the sea or listening to the waves crash at night, they can be the right choice for an at-sea burial. Your funeral director can help you find these one-of-a-kind urns and offer helpful advice along the way.

Pro-tip: Check with coastal regulations for ocean depth or shoreline distances to adhere to EPA guidelines.

4. Work thermos

Are you looking for some inexpensive things to do with ashes? If so, take a look at your dad’s and mom’s old work gear. Maybe you’ll find a thermos or two to repurpose. 

Pro-tip: Make sure the thermos has a working lid.

5. Retro or vintage amp

If your parents loved to play music together, combine their ashes inside one of their old vintage amps. Then, just display it somewhere it’ll be remembered and loved. 

Add a brass plaque so that others don’t try to use it.

6. German beer stein

If your parents were proud of their German heritage or loved to brew beer at home, consider getting a lidded tankard or stein.

They can be intricately crafted with an expensive price to match, or they can be simple and elegant. Take some time to research the metric and imperial measurement systems to get the necessary size.

Unique Urns for Indoors

Standard or stereotypical urns are no longer the only options available for your loved ones. Now, creative urns can come in all shapes and sizes, depending on how you wish to make one final expression for them.

6. Conch or urchin shell

If you don’t already have one, purchase a real one or a replica in a reasonable size. If multiple family members have requested portions of the cremains for themselves, then purchase the desired amount. Any cremains left can be scattered at the beach.

7. Miniature fire hydrant

Thanks to a famous cartoon pup, nothing else symbolizes 'puppy dog' quite like a fire hydrant. Online, you can find some small ones made from different materials like ceramic or brass from several manufacturers.

Customize your pet memorial with a photo and inscription of them.

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

8. Ukulele

Ukulele material options include metal, wood, or plastic and range from $30 to $300+, depending on your needs. The best place to look for one is at a guitar store, but any online retailer would be happy to ship with additional packaging and shipping costs.

Pro-tip: You’ll want to find a carpenter to cut a piece of wood for the soundhole so that the funeral home can enclose the cremains.

9. Baseball or softball

This type of urn is great for honoring a sporty loved one. Given the size of the ball you choose, the amount of ashes used will be smaller than what you'll have. You may want to consider an additional urn or special order a customizable stand for the balance of ashes remaining.

If you’re portioning them out, then order a few extras for any familial requests. 

10. King or queen chess piece

If your loved one was brilliant at chess, there are a limited number of manufacturers that specialize in replica chess pieces.

Another option is to use the board and chess pieces you already own. If you get creative, you can continue to keep them on display.

11. Exploration gadgets

If your sibling was an explorer at heart, then repurpose their favorite exploration tool, whether that was a compass, sextant, a pair of binoculars, or a camera. 

Additionally, commission a small brass plaque to be made for the gadget to know it's a treasured piece before others may try to use it.

Unique Urns for Outdoors

If you’re looking for an outside urn, choose either biodegradable or one that withstands the elements. 

12. Hollowed out log

Consider leaving the log in your garden long enough so that it can turn into a natural, biodegradable urn. You can also use it as a stand for a bird water feature or even as a stool to sit around a campfire. Think about your loved one's hobbies when it comes to placement and use.

Pro-tip: Make sure you’ve got a sealable lid so that the funeral home can close the urn to prevent the cremains from falling out.

13. Oversized bronze sunflower or pinecone garden pieces

If you place one of these on a cement pillar in the middle of your wildflower garden right next to a bench, you can enjoy the butterflies and birds while having quiet conversations with your loved one. Over time, the bronze patinas turn into a beautiful green.

14. Cast statues 

Whether you select something historical, religious, or whimsical, you'll find a manufacturer to help you decide what's best suited for your needs. If you add a spotlight in front of the statue, it'll brilliantly shine at night.

15. Glass orbs

Glassblowers will custom make any size of glass orb you like. But, the larger your sphere, the more likely there will be inclusions or cracks. With that, the artist you choose will be able to guide you based on your wishes as well as their ability.

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

16. Bio urn and tree planting system

Another option for a biodegradable urn comes with its own tree. Some websites will even ask you for your zip code to offer you the best tree for your growing and planting zone.

All you have to do is choose a suitable location in your yard or a garden for the tree.

Unique Urns Jewelry for Cremains

If you choose to keep your loved one nearby with cremation jewelry, there are options available to help you hold a small amount of cremains. Below are just a few ideas from which to choose.

17. Diamond cremation pendant

Although expensive, scientific advances now allow for ashes to be turned into memorial diamonds. As opposed to seeing the inclusions as a flaw in the gemstone, you might consider them representative of your loved one's many facets.

Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone. 

18. Bullets of any caliber

Avid hunters and gun range members may enjoy this one most of all. First, there is the jewelry option where you drill a hole into a bullet and then wear it like a dog chain. The second is also an actual, usable shell that can be fired off, like a civilian 21-gun salute.

Pro-tip: Follow local and state protocols for discharging weapons.

19. Viking amulet ring

Consider commissioning an artist to make a ring for your loved one who followed the old religions. No matter what you’re considering, if you can help the artist develop your idea—it can be done. Search online marketplaces first. Many artisans will be happy to help if they can.

20. Miniature silver-plated coffin pendant

Although it's not the 'traditional" coffin, this can be a unique and artistic jewelry piece. Much like the amulet ring, if you can imagine it, someone is out there to make it.

21. Sterling silver or gold butterfly

A butterfly has colored forewings and tail wings, which an artist may make out of something crystalline. With the head, thorax, and abdomen, that’s where they can place your loved one’s cremains. Check out some online sellers and image searches to get an idea of what you like best.

21. Brooch pushpin urn

Pushpin brooches are yet another way you can choose to use urns as wearable jewelry. As with all the options mentioned above, finding an artist to help you envision the design you were thinking of will go a long way in making a long-lasting piece that honors your loved one.

Special Urns for that Special Someone

Now that you've got some impressions about the unique options available for non-traditional urns, chat with your family members to see how they feel about the idea.

Include all vested members to make the process more complete so that everyone feels like they have input and are heard. Once you’ve made the choice, hopefully everyone can feel at ease knowing their loved one has been honored in the way they may have liked.


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