How to Create a Memorial Display

A memorial display is an arrangement of photographs and memorabilia of your loved one that is set up for family and friends to view and interact with at the gathering time. It can also serve as a focal point during the service itself. We've seen many beautiful displays over the years and want to share some great ideas. 

First, it will be important to find the time to gather materials. This can be a time-consuming process, and multiple family members may want to be involved, so coordination will be important. You will also need time to set up your display on the day of services, so plan to arrive early to avoid having to rush.

Photos are probably the most crucial element of any display. A large photo can serve as a focal point, drawing the eye. If you only have small photos, consider having a favorite one enlarged to an 8x10 and placed in a frame. This can be done quickly at many drugstores or camera shops. Other photos, whether framed, loose on the table or contained in albums for guests to flip through, will be a favorite part of the display for many guests. Since many of us keep all photos on our phones, it would be helpful to have everyone email or text their favorites to one family member or friend who can coordinate the printing of any that will be displayed.

Other items that can be displayed on a memorial table include awards, memorabilia from hobbies and interests, treasured possessions and really anything that helps tell the story of their life. While many of the guests to the service will have known your loved one, others will be attending to support you or other family members. A memorial display can give these guests insight into what made your loved one a uniquely special person.

If you have space, consider setting up one table for your loved one’s childhood, one for their early adulthood, and one for their later years. This is a beautiful way to tell the story of their life, and can help family and guests learn more about them.

If your loved one had a large collection of items, such as sports memorabilia, recipes, craft projects or more, consider adding some of the collection to your display. If your family does not want to keep the whole collection, you could set some items out on a table with a sign offering the items as keepsakes for guests. Extended family members especially may appreciate this.

Finally, even though you have many options for what to include in your displays, don’t forget that less can actually say more. Guests will be overwhelmed by hundreds of photos and mementos (yes, we’ve seen that), so take some time to select the elements that do the best job of showing various parts of your loved one’s life. Don’t forget to take a photo of your display to share with those who weren’t able to attend the service!