Alternative tributes to flowers for a funeral

Funeral flowers are an established tradition at funerals, but flowers can sometimes feel like the wrong tribute for the occasion. Wilting flowers can be an unwanted reminder of death, and you might be looking for a permanent way to commemorate the deceased’s life. When you’re planning a funeral, exploring options other than flowers can allow you and your family a creative and lasting expression of your feelings and sentiments.

Charity donation

The deceased might have left instructions for funeral attendees to donate to their favourite charity rather than bring flowers or other offerings. If you’ve been asked to provide a charity donation, remember to make the donation in the deceased’s memory and include contact details of family members so they can be notified of your donation.

If you’re organising the funeral for a loved one, ask attendees to make a donation by setting up a donation website or including the charity’s details in the invitation. You can also plan to have it integrated into the service and dedicate a space and time when attendees can make a donation.

Potted plants

Potted plants can be a preferred alternative to cut flowers as they last longer. While cut flowers will be thrown out when they wilt, potted plants can be taken home, planted, and repotted. A living plant can offer comfort to loved ones and serve as a symbol of renewal and life.

The variety of potted plants available also make this a great option. If you’re attending a funeral, you can choose from compact bonsai plants to larger shrubs to be planted as a permanent memorial.

Flowering potted plants can brighten up rooms, while succulents require minimal care and watering. Plants may also be chosen for their symbolic properties. For example, rosemary is known as the herb of remembrance, and is a hardy plant which can be cultivated from cuttings shared around the family.

Tree and shrub planting

Mourners can opt to plant a tree in a special location in lieu of bringing a tribute, or tree planting can be incorporated into the funeral service. The tree can serve as a permanent memorial for the deceased. Check with the cemetery staff to make sure the plant is of an appropriate size for the plot area, and make sure you’re able to provide the maintenance it requires.

Alternatively, you can make the gift of a tree or shrub to be planted at the family home to commemorate the life of the deceased. Plants are often associated with different meanings, so pick a species representative of your feelings. For example, camellias are thought to symbolise love and devotion, while the spruce is associated with peace and goodwill.

Memorial plaque

If you’re attending a funeral, you can make the gift of a memorial plaque to express your condolences. Ask the family about whether this is appropriate and whether they have a special location they’d like to have the memorial plaque placed. For example, the deceased might have a local sports club or park where they made a valuable contribution. You could have the plaque installed on a park bench or next to a tree in remembrance of the person.

Seed cards

Seed cards are another type of funeral tribute to consider. They can be sent as sympathy cards or presented to the family at the funeral. The card can contain a personal message for the family, and has a hidden pocket containing the seeds. Sometimes the seeds are contained within the paper. After the funeral, the card can be planted to yield a floral display. Seed cards are also given out to guests at funerals as a token to be planted in remembrance of the deceased.


If you’re arranging a funeral, you can ask guests to bring photographs instead of flowers. Set up a central place where everyone can place their photos, and allow some time during the service when mourners can view the photos and share their memories of the deceased. These photos can later be collated into digital photobooks and shared with attendees.

Memorial book cards

Memorial book cards offer guests the opportunity to share their favourite memories of the deceased. These individual book cards can be handed out before the funeral with instructions for guests to fill them out and bring them to the funeral. The cards are then collated into a single memorial book for the family to keep, and the book can be easily shared digitally with attendees.


Making food offers loved ones practical value while allowing you to express your condolences. Rather than a bunch of flowers, present the family with a basket of treats, baked goods, or gourmet items. Include a sympathy card with your gift to convey your sentiments.

Delivering homemade meals is another practical way to show your support to the bereaved. Comfort dishes such as lasagne, casserole, and pie are easy to heat up and the convenience of having these dishes on hand will save the family from having to worry about preparing meals during this stressful time.


Candles are associated with mourning and they can be meaningful tributes for attendees at funerals. If you’re arranging the funeral, you can incorporate a process where people can bring out their candles and light them in remembrance of the deceased.

If you’re attending a funeral, you can make your candle tribute special by including a candle holder or gift set for the family. Candles with inscribed quotes make suitable tributes for funerals, and scented candles are best as gifts or keepsakes for the family.

Customised mementos

Giving the gift of a customised memento is a way to show your sadness in a personalised way. An embroidered cushion, quilt, or photo frame make special tributes to be handed down to the next generation.

Find the best way to express your condolences

Floral arrangements are the traditional option for funerals, but other types of tributes can be used to commemorate the deceased. From donations and potted plants to candles and mementos, there are a range of meaningful and practical ways for attendees to express their sentiments and share their memories of the deceased.

Have you wondered what your funeral may look like? Having funeral insurance can give your loved ones the opportunity to provide you with a send-off that honours you and celebrates your life. For more information, call us on 1300 078 596 or request a call back to learn more.