10 Best What to Serve at a Celebration of the life of loved ones

Thinking of what to serve at a celebration of life of loved ones?

What comes to mind when you think of food for a funeral reception depends on where you live, your culture, and your family traditions. Southerners frequently rely on hearty casseroles.

Meatballs or Italian fare may be on the menu for those in the northeast. In the Midwest, you’re likely to see egg salad sandwiches alongside hot dishes.

Regardless of where you live, you want food that is affordable, comforting, simple to prepare, and simple to consume. Whatever you serve, keep in mind that the purpose of the funeral reception is to allow those who have come to pay their respects to gather together to support one another and share their memories of the deceased.

You are not required to entertain or provide a food extravaganza. You may be grieving as well, so keep your own needs in mind. By all means, seek assistance at sharkos.com.

Consider the following as you begin to plan your menu:

Where will the memorial service be held?

The venue for your reception will determine how simple or elaborate the food should be. A church hall may have a full kitchen, allowing you to prepare food on the spot. The funeral home’s parlor might not. You’ll need foods that can be kept warm in slow cookers or chafing dishes in this case.

How many people do you expect to attend?

If you are expecting a large crowd, choose items that can be made in bulk and will last a long time. You may have more options for a smaller group.

Who will cook the food?

If the funeral is held at a church, many people in the community will pitch in to prepare the food. It is also customary for friends and associates to bring you sympathy dishes. Some of these gifts may be appropriate for the reception. Remember that those who offer assistance to those in grief genuinely want to help. Asking them to help prepare the food is a great way to accept their offer.

Consider a potluck. You could have the funeral reception food catered if your budget allows. In fact, this is becoming increasingly popular. You are not required to provide a full sit-down meal. There are numerous catering companies that will gladly provide a simple meal spread.

How much money are you willing to spend?

While it may appear that a funeral is not the time to be concerned about finances, unless all of your payments are prearranged, you may incur a significant cost. It is perfectly acceptable to decide how much you can comfortably spend and develop a menu based on that figure, just as it is when planning any large gathering.

Funeral vs. Life Celebration: The Distention

The first thing we should talk about is what a celebration of life is and how it differs from a funeral! The phrase “celebration of life” conjures up images of a colorful and happy party. This may appear to be at odds with the traditional black, mourning period.

A life celebration is exactly that! It goes against the grain in that it emphasizes the goodness and memories of our deceased loved ones rather than the sadness that they are no longer with us. This is evident in the specifics of each experience.

Funerals are usually held in a church or a funeral home, with the deceased present. People dress in dark colors, often in black. There are massive flower arrangements over the casket, and everyone has the chance to say their final goodbyes to the deceased. There is whispering, sad mourning remarks, and reminiscences. It is primarily concerned with the sadness of all that death brings and takes from family and friends.

Religious ceremonies and speeches given by family and friends are common. You can read the obituary and have some people sing. After a funeral, there is sometimes a reception with food and some lighter moments and activities.

Life celebrations are vastly different. They can happen anywhere, including churches, restaurants, and parks. People come in a variety of colors and styles, which are often more casual in order to be more comfortable. Food is also tailored to the individual’s life and how their loved ones believe they would like to be remembered.

The events and sequence of events in a life celebration are up to those who plan it. The events will usually revolve around what the person loved and did in their life.

This opens up a lot of possibilities for different ideas. Perhaps your loved one enjoyed swimming, so you go to a lake and swim in their honor. Perhaps your loved one enjoyed singing, so you perform karaoke to their favorite songs! With this method of remembering the dead, the entire world is yours.

The most important aspect of a life celebration is the opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of the person’s life and memory. Even when bad and difficult things happen, we can recognize the good and find peace and healing in that!

We know a little bit more about how to move forward in the planning process now that we have a better understanding of the differences between these two ways of acknowledging a person’s life.

10 Best What to serve at a celebration of life of loved ones

1. Meatballs

Choose from the various flavors and types of meatball recipes available. You can make either Italian or Swedish meatballs, and both will be a hit. Serve these with toothpicks and napkins.

Make it easier on yourself by cooking your meatballs in the crockpot and bringing them with you.

2. Bruschetta 

Bruschetta can take 15 minutes or up to an hour to prepare. These summery toast-based appetizers are delicious.

Pro tip: Experiment with different toppings for your bruschetta besides cheese and tomatoes. Bruschetta can be made from any toasted sandwich, such as egg salad or tuna salad.

3.  Pinwheel

These tortilla appetizers can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. From buffalo chicken to Italian meats, the possibilities for pinwheel recipes are endless.

Choose cold pinwheels to avoid having to worry about keeping them warm.

4. Miniature sandwiches

These are fairly self-explanatory, and you can make them as large as you want. Make some mini BLT sandwiches, mini ham sandwiches, or something else.

Pro tip: Instead of standard triangles, use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes for the sandwiches.

5. Sliders 

Sliders, like sandwiches, can vary. You can make miniature burgers and serve them with condiments on the side.

Sliders can be a simple beef burger or delectable roast beef. Don’t forget to label your finger foods so your guests know what they’re eating!

6. Quesadillas 

If the deceased enjoyed Mexican food, quesadillas are an excellent choice. Large quesadillas can be quickly prepared and cut into smaller pieces.

Set them out in a circle around a communal bowl of sour cream or salsa.

Simpler Finger Food Recipes with Less Mess and Ingredients

It’s okay if you don’t have time or energy to prepare a full appetizer during the grieving process. These are simple ideas that can be implemented right before the wake or viewing.

7. Hummus 

Hummus comes in a variety of flavors, and the snack you serve with it can be salty or savory. You can even make a dessert hummus to go with pretzels or fruit.

Pro tip: You can buy hummus at the store, but you can also make it at home with a few simple ingredients.

8. Mini stuffed peppers 

With some mini peppers, meat, and cheese, you can make a delicious handheld appetizer. They can also be combined with other ingredients such as hot peppers or sour cream.

Keep in mind that the heat of peppers varies. Make sure to remove the seeds before cooking.

9 cups of fruit

Fruit cups may be the ultimate low-mess, low-ingredient option for a wake. It’s a great way to feed guests quickly and easily by bringing some prefilled cups or setting out a bowl of fresh fruit. Don’t forget about the forks!

10. Sticks of mozzarella

Mozzarella sticks are another option straight from the freezer section! Set aside sometime 30 minutes before cooking them. They should be hot, but these delectable appetizers won’t last long.

Pro tip: Look in the freezer section for premade finger foods such as potato skins and potstickers. You may even have access to a microwave or oven at the wake or viewing location.

Gallery Of Popular Funeral Food Items And Tips

  • If you are entertaining a large group, consider a meal buffet rather than finger foods. Traditional buffet foods are less expensive and less difficult to prepare.
  • “Build your own sandwich buffets” can be effective. You can buy cheese and meat in bulk and save time on preparation. Ham is a particularly popular funeral reception food option.
  • Pasta dishes, casseroles, and other reheatable items are popular and efficient. They can frequently be frozen ahead of time and serve well as leftovers.
  • Potatoes are always popular. A search for funeral potatoes yields dozens of results. You probably have a family recipe for a favorite potato dish that would be ideal for a funeral reception.
  • Include kid-friendly foods like macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.
  • Personalize the reception by serving some of the deceased’s favorite dishes.
  • If a group, such as a church auxiliary, offers to handle the food, don’t be afraid to accept. Not only will it lighten your load, but you will also be guaranteed to try some new dishes.

Frequently Asked Question

What about funeral food as dessert?

Surprisingly, whether or not to include dessert on your funeral food menu is a contentious issue. Sweets should be avoided by some people. Others consider them to be the best part. The answer is that it is entirely up to you. Dessert items that are most convenient for you can be held. Cookies, brownies, and fruit cups are examples of this. Cakes are acceptable, but plates and cutlery must be provided.

Is funeral food catered?

Using a caterer to provide food for a funeral reception is actually a growing trend. If you can afford it, it is a perfectly acceptable alternative. Aside from the fact that everything will be taken care of for you, a caterer can advise you on what food to buy and how much to buy. Your funeral home may be able to recommend a local caterer who is experienced in preparing funeral food, or you can consult with your favorite restaurant. Many provide catering services on-site as well as for delivery.

The most important thing to remember about the food you serve at the funeral reception is that there are no rules. What you choose is determined by your budget and personal preferences. When planning, you should try not to overextend yourself, both physically and financially. Taking care of the funeral reception food may be a welcome distraction, but you must still attend to your personal needs. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple and accepting assistance. Those attending the post-funeral reception should not expect a gala event.

Funeral Food Menu Example

Your selections will be successful if you offer a variety of foods that can be prepared quickly and easily. We’ve included an example funeral food menu below to help you get started on your planning. You can easily change the options to suit your specific needs.

  • Salad Garden with Dressings on the Side
  • Ziti Baked
  • Dinner Buns
  • Cheese and Macaroni
  • Tray of Fruits and Vegetables
  • Tray for cookies and brownies
  • Lemonade, Iced Tea, and Coffee


Food brings people together. Even in difficult times, food can bring people together and even provide comfort.

Loved ones are struggling to cope with the loss and manage end-of-life plans, so bringing food to a bereaved family or assisting with the food for an end-of-life celebration is extremely beneficial.

If you are the executor of a deceased loved one, you have more than just the wake to consider. Handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming if you don’t have a system in place to organize your process. 

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