Most people don’t attend funerals often, so they don’t know what to take to one. Overall, what you bring to the funeral will depend on your role.
If you’re a guest, there’s gift-giving etiquette around memorial services. Still, you should be careful because gift-giving etiquette sometimes depends on the culture or religion of the funeral service.
On the contrary, if you’re part of the immediate family, you will likely need to take some extras, such as a photo of the deceased, a guest book, etc.
Below, I will discuss things you should and shouldn’t bring to a funeral, so let’s dive right in and learn how to pay your last respects properly.
What to Take to Funeral
A gift isn’t required to attend a funeral; however, bringing something is considered polite and thoughtful. Here’s a list of common gifts you can take to a funeral.
Typically, people bring flowers to funerals; they’re traditional funeral gifts. You can ask a florist for “funeral flowers” or “sympathy flowers,” and they provide suggestions.
You can bring a bouquet or a single flower. Common flowers for funeral services include lilies, orchids, roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, etc.
You can also bring sympathy cards for the deceased’s family if you’re a guest.
You can combine a sympathy card with a bouquet for a special touch. You can combine a sympathy card with a gift card for a restaurant, grocery store, coffee gift card, etc.
Writing something on the card can be stressful. So, I suggest you don’t overthink it; just write a short note expressing your condolences.
Food or Beverages
In many cultures, people bring food to funerals. However, food makes a great choice for any occasion.
The deceased’s family usually doesn’t have the time to prepare or purchase food for the funeral reception. So, bringing a traditional dish takes the pressure off the family.
Also, pack the food in disposable containers so everyone can take home any leftovers.
If you’re unsure what food to bring to the funeral, you can’t go wrong with filling pasta or casserole, baked goods, cultural dish, dessert, or coffee and tea.
If you have photos of the deceased, you can bring those to the funeral. The deceased’s family would probably appreciate those photos.
You can bring framed photos, a CD, a memorial album, or a scrapbook.
Funeral Guest Book
If you’re a family member, you can bring a funeral guest book and new pens for visitors to sign.
If you’re expecting many visitors, consider bringing a second book. That way, everyone can write a note of condolence without worrying about taking up too much space.
Some funerals don’t allow children to attend the funerals.
However, if you have kids over six or seven, you can bring them to a funeral so they can say their goodbyes.
The decision depends on the bond between the child and the deceased. If you decide to bring your kids to the funeral, ensure they know the funeral etiquette.
Additionally, funerals aren’t fun, so make sure your children know what’s happening and why they’re there.
That way, they can act respectfully toward those who’ve experienced a loss like theirs in the future.
You can donate money if you know the family’s facing financial problems. That way, you can help the family through their hardship.
Maybe there’s a donation website or bank account where you can donate the money, so ask a family member, friend, or the funeral home where you can donate the money.
If there’s no website or bank account set up for donations, you can donate the money in person or consider other ways you can help the family.
For instance, you can run errands for the immediate family, pay for meals, etc.
Sometimes, families request a charitable donation instead of gifts. And if the deceased’s family requests money instead of flowers, you should always respect their wish.
Usually, the funeral notice will provide this information. When donating the money, notify the charity who’s contributing, so they can tell the deceased’s family.
Some funeral homes also provide cards, so you can let the family know you’ve donated. However, I suggest you leave out the amount of your donation.
What NOT to Bring to a Funeral
Funerals have become casual worldwide, but you should still inform yourself of different funeral etiquette. For instance, most people consider flowers a great funeral gift.
However, not every culture or religion considers flowers a sympathy gift, so let’s discuss this further.
Flowers At a Jewish Funeral
Typically, people bring flowers to funerals. They’re one of the common funeral gifts, but Jewish people consider flowers insensitive at a funeral service or memorial.
So, avoid bringing flowers to a Jewish funeral. Instead, donate money.
Moreover, sending a bouquet to the funeral before service is considered inappropriate. And you shouldn’t bring the flowers yourself to the service.
Overall, before buying flowers for a funeral, consider the funeral home rules, religion or culture, and arrangement type.
Regardless of tradition, most people consider expensive gifts inappropriate.
Most funeral gifts cost between $20 and $100, and anything more than that could make people feel uncomfortable or cause a distraction.
When buying funeral gifts, remember that it’s the thought that counts.
And sometimes, the best funeral gift is your time and attention. For instance, you could help by preparing or buying food for the funeral service, arranging everything on the day of the funeral service, or caring for the grieving family’s home.
You shouldn’t bring any loud electronics to a funeral.
You can take your phone with you; just make sure it’s on silent or don’t disturb. Also, if you’re taking your kids with you, turn off their electronics.
Keep smartphones and devices out of sight when attending a funeral, and don’t use your phone too much.
Attending a funeral in revealing clothing isn’t a good idea. So, never wear inappropriate clothing to a funeral service or memorial.
Wear something simple and conservative. Most people wear black at funerals, but that’s no longer a strict requirement; still, dress modestly.
For instance, wear neutral clothing. Additionally, if walking in a cemetery, consider sport sensible footwear.
Lastly, if necessary, wear a shawl or headscarf.
Most funerals don’t welcome children. However, this usually depends on the family. So, if you want to bring your kids to a funeral, ensure the family’s okay with the idea.
If you take your young children to a funeral, ensure they’re entertained with toys during the ceremony, as noisy children can become a disturbance at the funeral.
Things You Can Take to Stay Comfortable At a Funeral
You can help yourself cope with emotional pain by bringing practical things to a funeral, such as tissues, sunglasses, and umbrellas.
Funerals aren’t fun. On the contrary, they’re emotionally draining and sad; therefore, it’s best to come prepared with tissues or a handkerchief.
These things can help if you become too emotional or someone else breaks down and starts crying during the funeral service or memorial.
You should bring sunglasses to a funeral service for two reasons. They can protect your eyes and help you hide your tears.
If it’s sunny, you should bring sunglasses to a funeral. Additionally, sunglasses can help conceal your tears during the service if you’re emotional.
Also, don’t forget to bring comfortable footwear and a bottle of water if you’re walking at a cemetery.
If bad weather has been forecast for the service, you should bring your umbrella. You should always have your umbrella when attending a funeral service, especially if it’s a graveside service or one held outdoors.
Funerals don’t require gifts, but most people still bring appropriate funeral gifts, such as flowers, food or drinks, donations, etc. However, what’s the right time for gift-giving at a funeral? Let’s find out and wrap this article with a few practical tips.
Wait for the Right Moment
The best time to give the family a gift is before or after the funeral service.
They’re not something to bring to a funeral service or memorial. So, you should present your gifts when visiting the family to express your condolences.
You Can Never Go Wrong With Food
Many people appreciate food, especially if they have out-of-town visitors.
Therefore, if you’re good at cooking, prepare a fast meal and help the deceased’s family out during their difficult time with food packed in disposable containers.
If you’re not a good cook, don’t worry. Just cook something quick and simple that’s easy to freeze and reheat, such as casserole, pasta, dessert, etc.
You can also help the grieving family by running errands, babysitting, cleaning, etc.
Additionally, you can give a small gift to kids in the family, such as a quiet toy or a book. That way, they can stay calm during the funeral service.
Always Consider Funeral Etiquette
If you’re unsure what to bring to a funeral, always consider the specific family, religious, or cultural beliefs.
From there, you should follow your instinct when helping the grieving family during their time of need. Remember, if your heart’s in the right place, you will do fine.