Celebration of Life checklist

Celebration of Life checklist

Planning our own event is hard and we have a free checklist to help you out.

You can also download a PDF version of this list for offline usage.


  • Hall or rented space
  • Full service Venue such as a golf course
  • Home (inside, in your yard or in a tent)
  • Church
  • Park
  • On a boat
  • At a workplace or business
  • Things to think about:
    • Who sets everything up?
    • What time do you have access and when do you need to be out?
    • Clean up after – what it is required and what do you want to do?
    • If you are using your home consider hiring a housekeeper before and after so you can focus on your loved one and guests.

Food and Beverage

  • Work with a catering company that can meet your needs and provide exactly what you need
  • Venue provides everything
  • Have friends and family bring food
  • Pick up sandwich’s and platters from a local deli
  • Things to think about:
    • Is there a special dish that would represent your loved one (something they loved to eat) ?
    • Who is putting on the coffee and picking up things like cream and sugar?
    • Do you have a big enough coffee maker?
    • Even if you bring your own food who is serving it an putting it out?
    • Will you have liquor?
    • Full service venue will be licensed but you will be paying at a per glass price
    • Options include full bar (highballs, beer, wine) Beer and Wine only, or a single serve item such as rum punch, sangria, or Caesars
    • If you are in a Hall or rented space, you may be required to get a Special Occasion License (SOL) and can serve your own liquor – any unopened liquor can be returned to the LDB for refund. You will need a person with serving it right on site (ideally a bartender)
    • If you have less than 100 people in your home, you will not be required to have a liquor licence and are free to serve what ever you want.
    • Do you require rental of dishes, cutlery, glass wear or napkins (FYI all of this goes back to the rental company scraped but dirty- no clean up)?


  • Do you require tables or chairs for your venue (even at home you may need a few tables and some extra chairs)? (who will set up the tables and chairs)
  • Do you require table cloths (these go back to the rental company soiled)?
  • Do you require a tent for your yard?

Audio Visual

  • Are you going to have speeches – you may require a microphone and amplification this is a stressful time and speaking load and clear may not be easy for everyone?
  • Will you have a slide show or video presentation – you may require to rent a projector and screen.
  • Music – background music is nice to have on and a playlist that represents your loved one is nice to have. You may also want to play a few special songs during a service or speech’s
  • How technical are you a professional DJ / Technician can make all of this work flawlessly for you and will from mic’s and music to your slide show?

Décor and remembrance

  • Tasteful flowers can add a very nice touch and bring things together they add a sense of life and brightness.
  • Create a guest book using pictures from your loved one these take 5-10 business days if you have time to plan ahead or copy some favorite pictures and put them in a scrap book for your guests to sign.
  • Memorial Notecards: You only have one chance to collect everyone’s memories. Consider lined 3” x 5” cards that say, “My Special Memory of You ” These cards and pens are handed to friends and family as they walk into the service.
  • Memorial Idea: Create a Memory Table and Memory Boards Think about your loved one’s hobbies and passions. Gather some of the key things that were important to your loved one. At the entrance to the service, have the items displayed on a large table. Place items reflecting their hobbies or interests, perhaps a bowl with their favorite candy or treat, and friends and family can help themselves. You may want to take 3×5 cards and label the items and explain the significance. Memory boards are used similarly to memory tables but items are posted on a board.
  • Have a Few Speakers: even if you are just planning a reception after a funeral it is nice to have someone say a few words.
  • Hire a Celebrant: not everyone wants a formal funeral but a celebrant will come to you wherever you choose to have your Memorial or Celebration of Life. A Celebrant is a person who is trained and certified to meet the needs of families during their time of loss. Celebrants provide personalized funeral services that reflect the personality and lifestyle of the deceased.
  • Produce a Memory Card: Have something your guests can take with them such as a traditional card or something more current in a postcard format.
  • Signage: Have some signage in a nice frame or printed on foam core with little bit of information about your loved one and thanking your guests for coming.
  • Remember your loved one with a gift: Most charities and registered non-profits, schools and social groups have a program for a gift in memory that can be made by your guests, many will provide cards and signage that you can hand out and most have an online link that you can send to your friends and family. Please visit our In Memory Gift page for some of the main societies.

You can also download a PDF version of this list for offline usage.


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