Decorating for a living funeral is a personal choice, but it should be done with taste. After all, a living funeral is to show respect and honor to the intended guest of honor. Unlike common celebrations like weddings or graduations, there is no preset idea of what the decoration should be. However, there is three general categories for living funeral decorations- classically refined, theme based, or casual.
Classically refined is just what it sounds like. A distinguished restaurant is the ideal vision to shoot for. It is possible to rent a space that is already decorated in such a fashion from an illustrious hotel or professional rental building. If that is not a valid option, any conference center or restaurant banquet hall can be dressed up for the occasion. Make detailed requests about the glasses and plates used. Caterers are always willing to keep the customer happy by providing fine china and crystal.
The tables should be covered with cloth, not vinyl! Solid white is the most classic color, but any solid color will suffice as long as the color matches the rest of the décor. Center pieces for the guest tables may be any number of items, ranging from small flower bouquets and candles to picture cubes filled with photos from the life of the person being honored.
Each table should have a nicely printed or embossed card. Although everyone has their own personal idea of what should be written, the most basic information such as date and the name of who the living funeral is for should be present. Other words such as a line from a favorite poem or a phrase should be in good taste as the guests will take the cards with them as a memorial.
The honor table should be placed in the center front part of the room to allow easy visual access. The tablecloth could be a color slightly different than the rest. The center piece for the honor table can also be live flowers and candles, but the height should be taken into consideration so that the honored guest can make unobstructed views of the room. The front edge of the honor table can be decorated with live flower swags and silk ribbons or bows.
An optional touch would be to place a hand bell at the honor table, and at the podium, so that a master of ceremony could capture the rooms interest to lead the living funeral. Of course, the honored person could use it at any time, for any reason.
The walls should be decorated as a silent backdrop. Large silk cloth swags the same color as the tablecloths with flower centers are an ideal impression. Light colored flowers, regardless of the table flowers, should be used so attention is not diverted from the room to the walls. Above the doorway, or doorways, can be decorated as the edge of the honor table is.
The wall behind the honor table may be decorated with a stronger voice, perhaps with silk cloth darker than previously used. Swags can be done however, hanging silk cloth loosely can provide a strong focus point for the activities. I wouldn’t recommend balloons or streamers, and a large sign would probably not be ideal.
Decorating a themed living funeral can be fun and done with less sophistication. Banquet halls and conference rooms are still ideal locations, but so is outside space rentals such as state park shelter houses, if weather permits. Depending on the number of expected guests, a nice home would also be appropriate.
Themes for a living funeral is as distinct as the guest of honor, and are less tense than classically refined decorations. Some theme ideas for a living funeral is the hobbies of the honored person, decorations that depict the era of when the person was young (like the 50’s or 70’s), a depiction of a place that person wanted to go but never made it, or even rainbows and religious decorations. Some undesirable themes are black, over the hill and most birthday humor.
Whatever the chosen theme, streamers, balloons, confetti and large signs are welcome to be placed every place possible, the ceiling, the walls, tables and even chairs! Tablecloths at guest tables may be vinyl and printed or a solid color. Table centerpieces should be in harmony with the theme, or can be skipped altogether. Memorial placards can be replaced with a small printed ‘Thank you for coming” notes.
The honor table should still be respectable and not another ordinary decorated table. Although it may still be in touch with the theme, the honor table needs to be visually separated from the rest. An easy way to do this is by replacing the themed centerpiece with a large photo.
The photo can be a family portrait or of only the honored guest, it is totally a personal decision.
If there is a podium to be used, the front can have a sign that proclaims “You’re the best” or “We won’t forget”. Remember, the theme is only a theme. It is not what is being celebrated, but it is the honored person being celebrated.
A casual living funeral is the easiest of all to decorate for. A home or likewise similar place can be the ideal spot. If there will be many guests, you may reserve a section of a restaurant like Ponderosa or Bob Evans. Not only will there be no food to cook or mess to clean up, but each individual can choose from a menu what they wish to eat. Considering the large percentage of people that requires special diets, this might help to persuade individuals to participate in the living funeral.
Little or no decorations are needed. Thank you notes are not part of the decorating duties, but it is still nice to do. Another nice gift to give the guests is a wallet size photo of the honored person. The honored person deserves to have at the very least a flower bouquet or an all occasion greeting card.
By following these simple suggestions and using good judgment for colors and theme based decorations, anyone can decorate tastefully for a living funeral.