Having planned and catered for many celebratory occasions including funerals, Jean would like to share with you much of what she has learned over the years. Jean says: ‘Preparing and serving good food is a wonderful way of caring for and nurturing people.’

By tradition a reception almost always follows a funeral or memorial celebration. The chosen venue and menu can be as individual as the person who is being remembered.

If you are offering refreshments following the funeral, be sure to mention this on the order of service sheet with the address and a map of the location. The minister could also reiterate the invitation so that everyone feels included.

When someone dies, people like to be helpful but sometimes find it difficult to know what to say or do. Say ‘yes’ if people offer their help: Catering, hild/pet care, flower arranging, shopping, taking phone calls, preparation of family meals, ironing etc. Practical assistance can be as healing for those giving as it is for the receiver.

A gathering that follows a funeral offers a perfect opportunity to drink a toast in memory of the deceased followed by people sharing their personal recollections, playing music, reciting poetry etc.

Arrange a prettily clothed table with photograph albums, flowers and items especially significant to the deceased; favourite hat, walking stick etc.

Flowers only die when left at the crematorium. Use the arrangement from the coffin as a centrepiece for the buffet and place a photo of the deceased beside it.

Provide a book in which people can recall  their personal memories of the deceased, which become a treasured keepsake to those left behind.

Hold the funeral service/ceremony at home, in the garden, the great outdoors or a hall, leave people to party while close family attend the crematorium, returning to join the gathering. Alternatively say your goodbyes and let the funeral directors deal with the earthly remains.

If you have announced the death and funeral arrangements in a newspaper, be mindful of security. This can be an open invitation to burglars.

Consider holding a private funeral or direct cremation, followed at a later date by a memorial celebration; with the cremated ashes present. This could be combined with an ash scattering ceremony.

What to serve:

Think about the deceased’s favourite food and tipple:

  • Pie and chips at the pub
  • A strawberry and champagne picnic at the graveside
  • Sunday roast at home, whatever the day of the week
  • Afternoon tea
  • Ask people to bring a bowl of salad towards a buffet meal
  • Order platters of food from a well-known store
  • Ask everyone to bring tea time treats
  • Book a visit from an ice cream van
  • Employing recommended caterers to take care of the whole affair at home will also ensure you have house security while you are at the funeral.
  • Consider carefully the idea of a barbecue following a cremation; too many bones and charred flesh could prove distasteful!

Top tip:

Allow plenty of time when making arrangements so as not to feel rushed. Everyone will want to speak to you.