A celebration of life is can be a joyful and unique experience for friends and family alike. While traditionally a funeral has been the focus of the end of life arrangements, a celebration of life can provide a meaningful way to say good by to a loved one.

Red Bird has put together a Departure Lounge Kit that outlines ALL the details of planning a celebration of life.  Here are 5 good tips start you on your way to a meaningful celebration of life.

1.      Personalization

Personalizing a celebration of life can take on many forms. Let’s first talk about décor. Décor can take on many roles, from dressing the space, photos, flowers and memorabilia. The sky is the limit and it’s a great way to include friends and family in the design. When we chat with families we get to know the deceased and their hobbies, interests and personality.

If your loved one played the piano, can one be present and can their favourite music be played?

Did they love to paint and can some of their artwork be displayed?

This type of personalization will create conversation and can provide introductions to people who may not know each other but share the same memories of the deceased.

You can also personalize music and create playlists inspired by your loved. As well, live music is a great way to create atmosphere at the event. It can fill quiet places and also provide warming background to what we know is a difficult time for people.  From soothing music to a six piece Motown band music can change the mood and set the tone for the celebration of life.

There are sometimes no words to express thanks for people who attend a celebration of life. You may not know some individuals as each person has so many facets to their life. Work, school, community involvement, associations, neighbours and even relatives you haven’t seen since you were a child, all come out to say good bye to your loved one.

You may want to think about a personal thank with a gift. Mom’s favourite recipe, or one of dad’s golf balls. How about an ice cream scoop for the confection lover or a book mark for the avid reader? Not only is this a great way to say thank you but everyone gets to keep a shared memory from the celebration of life.

2.      Include family and friends

For any type of gathering people will always ask 2 questions; what can I bring? and, what can I do?

This type of support can often be overwhelming when you don’t even know where to start. Grief affects on so many levels and there is not right or wrong answer to these questions. We wrote a great blog about this topic and here are the highlights:

1.      Have someone collect photos for a slideshow and photo collages

2.      Have an open mic and encourage people to share stories

3.      If someone is a musician or singer have them perform at the event

4.      Have someone capture the event with photos or video

5.      Can you have someone greet people as they enter and ensure the guest book is signed?

6.      While Red Bird does offer celebrant services, you may like one of your friends or family members to emcee the formal portion of the ceremony.

As you can see there are so many details that go into a celebration of life and you don’t have to do it all on your own, Red Bird is here to help and your friends and family can also support you at the event.

3.      Venue

Finding a venue that is reflective of your loved one, has the capacity to host your friends and family and provides all the amenities needed can be a tall order.  But the first question to ask yourself is where would my loved one like their celebration of life to be held? I know when speaking with my mother and her plans, the one amenity it has to have is that is must be accessible.  For your loved one it may need a sports theme, or for a wine lover it has to have a great selection of wines.

We help families narrow this search and keep it personal at the same time.


4.      Food

Food is a great way to personalize event. Serving your loved one’s favourite dishes and drinks. Working with a venue and a caterer can put you at ease that all of the bases will be covered. You may think that asking friends and family to bring something to the celebration of life is the easiest way to involve them in the event, but this can be a lot of work. Keeping track of who is bringing what and then all of a sudden you have 6 salads and no quiche. If you do want to go down this road, ask one or two people to make mom’s lasagna or dad’s after dinner cocktail. You’ll be thankful in the end that you’ve left this to professionals, there is no clean up and you’ll have peace of mind that everyone had ample food and drink.



5.      Celebrant

You are probably asking yourself, how does a celebrant personalize the event. A celebrant is more than an emcee they will tell the life story of your loved one.  Weaving a theme and creating a tone for the speakers and musical interludes.  Red Bird’s celebrants are trained professionals that work with families to create a personalized and meaningful ceremony. They bring structure to the entire celebration of life.

There are so many ways to personalize a celebration of life to create a meaningful event. These are but a few ideas and we always love to see creative ways to express a loved one and create unique touch points for friends and family.  

Please share any that you have done and drop us a line at greetings@redbirdevents.ca