How to create your own memorial tributes

Memorial tributes form an integral part of how we commemorate the memory of the person we have lost.  There are many forms of memorial tributes, and new ones are emerging as modernity fuses with the funeral industry and memorialization becomes an intrinsic aspect of death care rituals.

Funeral homes offer various memorial tribute services as part of their services, but many of these will incur additional charges.  Of course, today, with all the resources of the Internet at hand, it is quite feasible to do some research and create your own memorial tributes at a fraction of the cost.

As cremation and ‘green’ burials become more popular, so too are many families choosing to conduct their own funeral and memorial services instead of employing a funeral director. 

For those families opting for a low-cost direct cremation, there are many ways to conduct your own memorial service and create your own unique memorial tributes.

With the DFS Memorials network of affordable cremation service providers, a low-cost direct cremation service can be arranged for less than $1,000 in most areas. Use the link below to find a cheap cremation near you.

To give you some ideas for creating your own personalized commemorative tributes, we have listed below a selection of memorial products with an outline of how to do so. 

Creating your own memorial tributes can help you save on overall funeral expenses, and it can also be a much more personalized way of commemorating your loved one.

1. How to create a eulogy, memorial speech, or a life sketch

2. How to create a Memorial Book for a funeral

3. How to create memorial cards and sympathy cards

4. How to create a memory board or table

5. How to create a memory box, memory niche, or ‘shrine’

6. How to create an online memorial

7. How to create memorial candles as a remembrance tribute

8. Creating your own memorial flowers or wreaths

9. How to use symbolic memorial tokens to create unique memorial tributes

10. Arranging a memorial release – lanterns, balloons, doves, and butterflies

11. Arranging for memorial donations as a tribute

12. Purchasing Affordable Custom Jewelry

Visit DFS Memorials if you need to find out the cost of a simple cremation in your location right now.

How to create a eulogy, memorial speech, or a life sketch

DIY Memorial Tributes

Most people are aware that this is perhaps the most common form of a memorial tribute.  A eulogy is a commemorative speech given at a funeral or memorial service.  It typically recounts memories of the deceased and can be both sad and yet uplifting.  The funeral director, clergy, or funeral celebrant can give a memorial speech, or members of the deceased’s family or close friends can read it.

The most important thing is to ensure it truly reflects and celebrates the deceased’s memory. You should talk to family and friends to capture shared stories and memories that are important to everyone. Make notes about significant achievements, life events, and the deceased’s personality. 

Research if there are favorite or special songs, verses, or poems that had meaning to the deceased and his or her family and friends. It is advisable to avoid any personal memories that may embarrass the deceased’s family.

Writing out your tribute speech and organizing an order for readings is probably wise.  Practice is also a key element for delivering an excellent eulogy memorial.  Try and read through your tribute out loud several times.  It obviously helps if you are comfortable with public speaking, and you do need to consider how you will cope with the emotional aspect of delivering a memorial speech. 

Enlisting family or friends who are less emotionally affected by the bereavement can help. They may be able to help you create and present a memorial speech with a more objective approach.

You can use this step-by-step guide to Writing a Eulogy to learn more.

How to create a Memorial Book for a funeral

Memorial books are a great way of combining memories of the deceased, both pictorial and written stories and anecdotes. A memory book can be created before a funeral or memorial service and used as a focal point during the service for attendees to reflect on their memories of the deceased. 

Alternatively, funeral attendees can create a memory book by bringing a photo that is especially memorable to them and writing short remembrance comments in a guest book.

In this way, a memory book can either be a professionally self-published book that can be put together and then copies produced by a printer or online self-publishing company, or it can be a homemade memorial scrapbook. 

Either way, a memorial book is a great and inexpensive way to capture your loved one’s memory forever. 

You can publish a photo book online for as little as $19.99. You can also purchase quality scrapbooks or folders from a stationer for as little as $5.00.

How to create memorial cards and sympathy cards

Memorial cards are usually given out at a funeral or sent to those who cannot attend as cherished keepsakes. They can be a variety of sizes and designs. Many funeral homes offer memorial cards or personalized prayer cards that they will create in-house using bespoke software. This software is usually template-driven, and you select from various templates customized with your photos and messages.

If you are reasonably adept at using a computer, you may be able to create your own memorial cards using a creative application. You will need some digital images of the deceased, but you can scan photographs to create digital copies.

You will want your memorial cards to have a quality finish, so you may want to invest in better-quality paper than regular printer paper or even have them professionally printed at a local stationer. You may also want to consider laminating your memorial cards, as this can help preserve them.

You can look for ideas for the layout of your cards online or just use your imagination.  You may even get creative and add embroidery thread or ribbon.  It can be a nice idea to create a laminated memory card that can be used as a bookmark or as a fridge magnet. 

The cost of creating your own memorial cards will depend largely on the number you need to produce, the quality of paper or card you use, and whether you opt for printing and laminating services.

How to create a memory board or table

Setting up a memory board or table at a funeral is becoming more popular today.  It is a very simple yet effective way to have a focal remembrance point at a funeral or memorial service. 

Some funeral homes may offer to set up a memory board for you as part of their services.  Usually, it is a large board set onto an easel. The name of the deceased and dates are added, along with some photos.

A memory table is very much the same, although as well as photographs, memorabilia, and symbolic items may be added.  Sometimes a family asks for attendees at the funeral to each bring a little memento along to add to the memory table.  This way, it creates a shared and interactive experience.

How to create a memory box, memory niche, or ‘shrine’

A memory box, niche, or a small memory ‘shrine’ can be a great way to capture memories of a lost loved one.  You can either purchase a readymade box or hope chest, or you can make one if you wish.  You can decorate the outside of the box as you choose with colors and images that connote the memory of your loved one.

You can fill a memory box yourself with special things that remind you of your loved one, or you can ask family and friends to contribute items that hold cherished memories of their dearly departed. 

You can even have everyone write a special memory message to put in the box. I have even seen this done with a colorfully decorated bucket, with everyone at the memorial asked to write a simple goodbye note on a colored card to be added to the ‘bucketful of memories.’ 

Again, this can be achieved very inexpensively if you purchase a cardboard or wooden box or bucket, some ribbon, and a colored card.

Memory shrines are often erected in a designated place that holds significance to remembering the deceased.  In some cases, shrines are erected either at a special place that the deceased loved or where their ashes have been scattered. 

In other cases, a remembrance shrine may be erected in remembrance at the place of death.  If you wish to create your own remembrance shrine, carefully check that you can do so in the selected place.  Candles and flower tributes are often placed at shrines.

You can read more here: Memorial Candle – The Ritual of Lighting a Candle in Remembrance.

As cremation becomes a more popular choice, there are a growing number of cemeteries offering glass-fronted memorial niches, where a permanent shrine of memorabilia to the deceased can be stored. 

Families can store the cremation urn in the niche or store a keepsake urn along with other artifacts.  There is a charge if you opt for a designated niche in a cemetery or columbarium. 

Memorial Service Display of urn & memorabilia

The costs for a niche can vary tremendously depending on size, location, and perpetual care costs.  You can expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars to acquire a niche, and then you may have ongoing maintenance or opening and closing of the niche costs.

How to create an online memorial

Online memorials are extremely common these days and are largely replacing newspaper obituaries. There are various ways to create an online memorial. Firstly, your funeral home may offer them on its website, either for free or for a small charge. 

If this is not the case, there are a whole host of online memorial websites.  Many of these offer a very basic free online memorial, with enhanced features or a permanent memorial being charged at nominal fees. 

Be sure to check out more than one online memorial website service before making a decision, as the range of services and prices do vary. 

If you wish to create an everlasting online tribute, you must ensure that the company you choose offers a lifetime hosting service.

Of course, with us all living our lives on social networks today, we are creating online living legacies every day, and these days, you can actually convert an existing Facebook page into a memorial.  If someone has died who had an account, you can apply to have the account ‘memorialized.’ 

This means any sensitive data is removed, the settings are private, and friends can post remembrance and condolence messages on the wall. Similarly, it is possible to set up a memorial group page with customized privacy settings. Both these options make a unique way to memorialize someone’s online presence.

How to create memorial candles as a remembrance tribute

Memorial Candle Ideas

Candles have long been an established way to signify remembrance and pay tribute to a life lost.  These days, you can purchase a range of specialist memorial candles, from basic wax candles with a printed remembrance message to solar-powered everlasting votives.

The great thing about memorial candles is that they are so easy to make your own, and it can be achieved quite cheaply.  You can buy simple, plain wax candles from a store and then make your own memorial decoration. 

Nowadays, you can buy small wax candles in glass or plastic holders or even purchase candles and holders separately. You can make your own candle labels on a computer, print them off, and glue them to the candles, or you can have adhesive labels printed at a stationery store. 

Giving everyone at a funeral or memorial a candle to light can be a great symbolic and shared gesture of memorialization.

Creating your own memorial flowers or wreaths

Affordable Cremation Urns

Funeral flowers are an integral part of a funeral service’s aesthetic, adding beauty, color, and sentiment to a solemn event. Today, however, funeral flowers can be expensive, with some casket sprays and wreaths costing hundreds of dollars. Therefore, making your own funeral flower arrangements can be a great way to save money by creating your own unique floral tribute.

You do not necessarily need to have expert flower-arranging skills, as there are easy-to-follow video tutorials on YouTube today and step-by-step guides available online. 

You can buy the basic tools from a craft store, such as Styrofoam and wire shapes, floral tape, greenery filler, and even artificial flowers if you so desire.  Of course, you can also save money by cutting your own fresh blooms from your garden or buying inexpensive flowers from a local market.

Creativity and imagination are what are required.  Choose colors or flowers that were a favorite of the deceased, and remember that by making your own floral tribute, you are creating a totally personal and unique memorial to the deceased.

How to use symbolic memorial tokens to create unique memorial tributes

Scattering ashes memorial

Today we are getting more and more creative about personalizing a funeral service.  Many people, especially baby boomers, want more creative and celebratory services.  Families or celebrants are becoming more common to choose symbolic tokens that signify something about the deceased and can act as a unified remembrance tool.

Again, you can use your imagination to conduct a memorial service using symbolic memorial tokens.  I have heard of numerous types of symbolic tokens being used at funeral and memorial services, from basketballs to cans of Budweiser. 

What is important is to ensure that the token quintessentially represents the memory of the deceased and is not offensive to all those attending the service. Tokens such as packets of memory seeds or small memorial tree saplings are a great way to give attendees a keepsake gift that they can take away and plant in remembrance.

Arranging a memorial release – lanterns, balloons, doves, and butterflies

The symbolic release of Chinese lanterns, balloons, doves, and butterflies is yet another way that everyone can participate in a shared remembrance tribute at a funeral or memorial service. 

The release of doves and butterflies can be a metaphorical way to symbolize peace and the release of the spirit.  It can also be an uplifting and celebratory act.  Obviously, there is a cost to employing a company that can facilitate a dove or butterfly release. However, there are other types of releases that it is much easier to arrange yourself.

Helium balloons can be a cost-effective method for arranging a memorial tribute release.  You can even give everyone a marker pen to enable them to write their own remembrance message onto the balloon before the release.

Alternatively, Chinese or Thai lanterns are becoming a popular choice for a shared release experience. These can be purchased fairly inexpensively online, and again, being paper, they are easy to decorate in remembrance of the deceased. 

Chinese sky lanterns can be purchased in packs of 20 for around $25.00.  Square floating water Chinese lanterns can be purchased in packs of 10 for around $15.00.

Arranging for memorial donations as a tribute

The practice of asking for memorial donations is becoming more common today. Sometimes, families feel that the money spent on expensive funeral flowers or other tributes would be better spent on a charitable cause. 

This can especially be the case if the deceased had a charitable cause that was special to them, or perhaps they had suffered a terminal illness and wished to donate to the hospice or charity that supported them at the end of their life.

If you wish to arrange charitable memorial donations as a tribute to the deceased, it is important to make this expressly clear as soon as you make funeral arrangements. If you are making an announcement in the local paper or online, ensure the information about memorial donations in lieu of flowers is included.

Purchasing Affordable Customized Jewelry Memorials

There are many options for creating memorial artifacts. Some of these can be quite expensive, such as cremation diamonds. However, many artists create bespoke engraved pendants or rings at a reasonable cost.

Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas for how you can create your own personalized memorial tributes and design a remembrance tribute that will celebrate the life of the deceased without costing you too much.


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Written by

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 15 years.