A memorial party is a bittersweet event celebrating the life and accomplishments of a friend or family member who has died. Memorial parties are usually held after or in lieu of a funeral. The deceased is not present at the party. Planning such a party is unlike any other type of party planning and must be conducted in a particularly sensitive way, taking into account the sensibilities of all family members and the wishes of the deceased.
Prepare a guest list. Invite those people who were particularly close to the deceased. Also invite people who are close to the survivors as they will need the support of friends and family. Ask each family member for a list of guests that they would like to invite. If you would like the party to be open to everyone, include the date, place and time in the obituary.
Pick a location for the party. If your home is not large enough to accommodate the party, look into renting a church hall or private catering hall. Hold an outdoor party at a park if the deceased particularly enjoyed the outdoors and the weather will be warm.
Plan an schedule of events for the party. Decide who will speak about the deceased and if you will encourage guests to offer their memories. Include any poems or music that were particularly important to the deceased. Ask your local clergy to speak if the family or deceased desired a religious focus for the party.
Decide if a formal eulogy will be delivered and who will deliver it. Interview family members and friends for information on the deceased’s early years and achievements. Appoint one person to be the master of ceremonies for the party and keep the formal part of it moving along.
Make a display containing photographs of the deceased. Ask other family members to help you with this if you are having trouble locating photographs. Use photographs showing the deceased at his best. No one wants to be remembered for that awful haircut or the skintight leather pants that showed a little too much skin.
Select music for the party. Look for songs that the deceased particularly liked or that you feel are appropriate considering the deceased’s personality and interests. Ask family members and friends for suggestions if you are unsure of the best music choices. Find someone to burn a CD of your choices for you.
Take into account any wishes of the deceased when you plan the party. If he asked that everyone sing a favorite song, print out the lyrics and have them ready for distribution. If he wanted everyone to take a boat ride on his favorite lake, hold the party at the lake.
Choose the food and drinks that you will serve. Finger food will be best if you won’t have enough tables and chairs for every guest. Think carefully before serving alcohol, as grief may cause some attendees to overindulge.
You may want to make a video of favorite clips of the deceased and show it during the party.