table of flowers and photos at a memorial serviceCalled by many names, a Memorial Service, Funeral, a Wake, or Celebration of Life, honoring a loved one who passes away can be one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do.
Unfortunately, it’s something most of us will have to do at one point or another in our lifetime. It’s an emotional time, and it can be hard to think of much else, so we have a few simple ideas to help you with your planning.
When you’re looking for a place to hold the service, find out if they have event coordinator services available with your rental. Though you can put all the pieces together for a memorial service, you will not want to worry about the details on the day you’re honoring your loved one.
Set up and tear down, event coordinator services, and other great services are sometimes included in the rental fee of a venue or offered as an add-on. The venue staff can take the pressure off of you to put on a celebration of life. They can also allow you to grieve with your friends and family and share in the celebrations instead of worrying about coordinating the event’s details.

Overall Décor

When decorating for a memorial service, it can be as simple or as involved as you like. Some people decorate the whole venue in ways that display their loved one’s heritage, hobbies, sports teams, or personal interests. You can go all out and decorate the entire place, or you can focus on specific tables to display specific areas of their life you want to highlight. Sometimes people have a hard time thinking of ways to honor their loved one, so we’re going to share some great ideas that we’ve seen work very well.

Table of Honor

Setting up a Table of Honor can be a great way to display a few special items of your loved one that they may have kept or items representing who they were.

  • Special Items: If they loved fly fishing, you could display their favorite fishing hat, and other items used fishing. Or, if they were a dancer, you could display their dance shoes or photos of them doing what they enjoyed most.
  • Favorite foods and beverages: Sometimes, a person will have a favorite candy, cookie, or drink that they may have been known for loving. These things can also be included on the table.
  • Photos: Maybe you have photos of your loved one doing the things they loved to do, like fly fishing or playing volleyball. This is a great place to display photos of them doing what they loved to do, and perhaps with their friends and family.
  • Personal items just for the occasion: You can make things out of their items and display them on this table as well. Articles of their clothing can be made into pillows, like ties, shirts, or jackets. You can make candles and affix photos of them to the front. Or, consider having pins made with a photo of your loved one, and display a large one on this table.

Photo Displays

Displaying photos is a wonderful way to show your loved one throughout their life, and there are many ways that can be done.

  • “Home Sweet Home” Style: You can find individual frames for each photo and display them on a table or the top of a piano or other central location in your venue.
  • Photo Boards: You can collect your photos and paste them to photo boards that you can display together or throughout the venue.
  • Clothesline: You can set up a clothesline in the venue and attach photos with clothespins. You can invite people to bring their own photos and pin them up to share with the family.
  • Project a slideshow: A slideshow is another way to display photos of your loved one throughout the service. Check with your venue to see if they have the equipment to rent.

Ways to Participate

Everyone in attendance at the Celebration of Life has their own story as to why this person is special to them. They will have many reasons to miss your loved one. Here are some ideas that will give your friends and family a way to share their feelings about their loss and the person that has passed.

  • Message stones: depending on where you live, you can either gather little flat stones or order them from an arts & crafts shop. Place them in a bowl on a table with a few fine point permanent markers and a large empty bowl. People can write messages on the stones and put them in the empty bowl for you to read later.
  • Share a Story Cards: Everyone has their own experiences to share, and sometimes some of the greatest stories about someone aren’t revealed until they’re gone. Providing a table with Share a Story cards allows people to sit and write down a story that impacted them about this person. It gives people an opportunity to share the story with you, but you can read it when you’re ready.
  • Photo clothesline: This was mentioned above but it bears repeating. When you let people know ahead of time to bring their photos to share, you can end up with many, many photos of your loved one that you’ve never seen but will be so glad to have in years to come.
  • Guest Book: Having a guestbook available for people to sign in and leave their email addresses, phone numbers, and even a quote or little note is a great thing to have to refer to later.
  • Live Streaming: For those who can’t make it, you can always stream the service if your venue has fast enough internet speed to support live streaming. This way, those that are far away and can’t travel can join you from afar.

Gifts to Give

  • Living trees: You can have a table set up with live trees as gifts for your friends and family to take home and plant in honor of your loved one.
  • Goodie bags: You can provide goodie bags with your loved one’s favorite candy, cookies, or other treats.
  • Little charm: You can offer a little heart or another appropriately shaped charm in a small drawstring bag. Include a little card with your loved one’s favorite quote, or maybe a quote that is helping you manage your loss.
  • Donations: If your loved one had a favorite charity, you could let people know that instead of buying gifts for the guests, a donation has been made to their loved one’s favorite charity in their name. You can also offer a basket for additional donations.

Having help dealing with all the details when planning a Celebration of Life service is important. When you’ve lost someone, most of the people around you are grieving too, so asking for help can be difficult.
When you consider The Foothills Event Center, talk to us about our event coordinator services. Our Celebrations of Life rental packages include:

  • Tables and chairs
  • Two microphones and speakers
  • Furnished VIP lounges
  • Thrust stage with lighting
  • Use of our covered patio
  • Use of our conference room
  • Parking for over 140 cars
  • 250 Mbps High-Speed Fiber Optic internet
  • An event host on-site for your event
  • Up to 5 hours of venue use until 5 pm


To learn more about holding your loved one’s memorial service at
The Foothills Event Center, call our friendly team of event planners at
530-271-1000 or email us.


Amanda Rodgers
Written by Amanda Rodgers

Amanda assists with all aspects of the Foothills Event Center’s concerts, parties, celebrations, fundraisers, weddings, and other events. She observes our events as they happen, to ensure the clients and event attendees have a seamless event.