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How to Host the Perfect Memorial Gathering

What Is a Celebration of Life?

Celebrations of Life are gatherings that provide ways to connect with friends and family in support of a loved one who is important in your life. These celebrations provide a way to share memories, photos, stories and a common bond of love for someone who means the world to you.

Whether they are intimate affairs with light hors d'oeuvres and coffee, a buffet of favorite dishes or a sit-down event that includes an elegant dinner with cocktails, speakers and a party-like atmosphere, it's important to remember that they are caring events where the focus is on honoring and cherishing the legacy of your special person.

Types of Celebrations

Living celebrant: Many times it is best to celebrate while your loved one is living. Perhaps facing a terminal illness or being at an age where time is limited provides an opportunity to celebrate and share moments together today—with your loved one in attendance. Meant to be uplifting and joyful, these types of celebrations provide a closeness to your honoree that few can match.

Loved one has passed: A celebration of life can also take place immediately following a wake or funeral of the deceased, where guests can gather to continue sharing memories and stories. Some celebrations may even take place several weeks or months later, allowing those with difficult schedules, who are facing travel restrictions or who are unable to attend because of inclement weather to consider attending.

Ideas and Themes

Personalize the celebration of life with a meaningful theme that might include a particular vacation highlight, a favorite sports team, a film tribute or perhaps music that has personal significance. You may want to invite a spiritual guest or speaker to provide a sense of comfort and healing. Other ideas for the celebration of life include:

  • Set up memory boards or albums with poignant photos or memorabilia such as ticket stubs, pennants, buttons or familiar jewelry.

  • Show a video or slideshow of clips of symbolic moments for guests to view at their leisure.

  • Incorporate the loved one’s favorite beverage, dish or dessert in the menu.

  • Decorate with significant flowers or colors that mean(t) something to the honoree.

  • Provide an interactive area where guests can jot down memories (or set up a laptop with an email address to the loved one).

  • Allow guests to write comforting words or phrases to hang on a tree or bulletin board for viewing by all.

  • Provide guests with a take-home item like a packet of seeds, a poem-filled program or a CD of favorite photos and music.

  • Candle lighting is not just for churches anymore—let each guest light a candle for the honoree or in memory of the departed.

  • Allow guests the opportunity to speak about (or toast) your loved one with a non-intimidating podium, or pass around a microphone.

Let us make coordinating a celebration of life easy for you—that's what we do. Choose to celebrate the life of that special person at beautiful Normandy Farm—indoors or out, in a variety of quaint settings and environments.

We can provide you with the perfect venue, a tasteful menu from the farmer's daughter restaurant, exquisite floral designs by Willow & Thistle for your theme as well as on-site professional photography (when is everyone together like this again?) by Tyler Boye Photography.

Contact us today at and let us guide you through the process in a way that will honor your loved one while making the event easy, affordable and most importantly, memorable.

Located just 25 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and situated in the heart of Blue Bell, Pa., Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center is more than a meticulously restored American landmark—it's a fully wired, high-tech hospitality venue. Relax on our grand terrace, sip a cocktail in America's oldest silo, play a challenging game of golf on our championship course, plan an event with us or dine on our delectable farm-to-table cuisine. It all adds up to One Historic Experience.

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