Christmas Memorial Tree: A Meaningful Way to Honor Loved Ones During the Holidays

Are you looking for a unique way to remember loved ones during the holiday season? Are you looking for memorial Christmas ornaments for a loved one? Consider making a Christmas memorial tree for your home. This article covers selecting memorial ornaments, decorating the memorial tree, and special ways to remember deceased loved ones at Christmas.

Christmas memorial trees are typically decorated with personalized ornaments or tags that bear the names of loved ones who have passed away. These trees are not only in private homes, but can be found in public spaces such as parks, churches, and community centers, allowing anyone to participate in the program.

This holiday, give the gift of of memorial Christmas tree or ornament.

I encourage you to visit the other article in this series on grieving:

Christmas memory tree ideas

Recently, decorated themes for Christmas trees have become popular for fundraisers. These type of events are awesome places to get ideas for memorial trees, even if they aren’t exactly for the deceased. The creativity explodes in this type of artistic venue, so take note!

A memorial Christmas tree honoring native American Indians.
Credit: tsayrate, Flickr.

The decorated themed tree above is called “Ancient Voices” – a Native American tribute Color selection is carefully selected: turquoise and copper and other colors popular with sand painting. Ornaments are sepia photos of 19th century local tribesmen, and a wickiup topper becomes the memorial Christmas tree topper. Photos are contained in considerably large gold picture frames, even a poem is added to the tree. Anything goes for memorial Christmas trees!

Christmas tree with notes
Credit: Joe Haupt, Flickr.

The photographer said of this tree, “Pictured next to the Philco console radio is my wife’s book club Christmas tree. The ornaments are all of the books read by the club over the years.

I thought it was a good representation of notes on a tree. Combining photos, ornaments of special meaning, and notes add to the significance of a memorial tree.

A nice tradition I have continued is to hold on to old Christmas cards. I cherish the handwritten Christmas messages from my grandmother and other relatives. Their handwriting makes me feel that they are with me.

A Christmas memorial tree with theme of BINGO.
This themed Christmas memorial tree at a community memorial tree event, honors a beloved member of a local church who managed the BINGO fundraising program for years (she passed away the previous year).

When I cleaned out my parents’ home after their deaths, I found a couple of old notes written to each other. They were just simple reminders, but I smile when I touch the ink and think of the task at hand. You may want to include these special types of paper memorabilia as part of your memorial table.

Small notes can even be captured in a clear Christmas ornament ball and hung on the Christmas tree (or any memorial tree at any time of year).

Memorial tree ornaments: personalize to make it special

Decorating a Christmas memorial tree is a special way to honor and remember loved ones who have passed away. Here are some creative and meaningful decoration ideas to make your tree truly special.

One way to make your Christmas memorial tree special is by personalizing the ornaments. You can create custom ornaments that reflect your loved one’s interests or personality. For example, if they loved to knit, you can make an ornament in the shape of a ball of yarn. If they were a fan of a particular sports team, you can purchase an ornament with their logo.

A Christmas ornament with photo of deceased elderly man with personalized message - a memorial Christmas tree ornament.
Customized remembrance Christmas ornament gifts can be personalized with names, dates, and special messages.

Another popular option (covered below) is to use photos of your loved one to create personalized ornaments. You can print photos on special paper and then cut them out in the shape of an ornament. This way, you can have a visual reminder of your loved one on your Christmas tree.

Customized remembrance gifts can be personalized with names, dates, and special messages. You can find these gifts on websites like Etsy, where you can choose from a variety of styles and designs. Some popular remembrance gifts include photo ornaments, engraved jewelry, and custom-made keepsakes.

Photo Christmas tree ornaments

Remember your loved one in happy times by decorating the Christmas tree with a photo ornament. Whether you choose to actually buy a special photo memorial ornament online, or attach your own photos to a tree, give it a little thought.

The photo collage below is just an example from a company selling software. Look closer at the images. The snapshots capture a moment in time – happy and smiling faces, caught offguard by the camera.

Make your photo memorial Christmas tree come alive with amazing life moments of your deceased.

Collage of pictures on a Christmas tree.
Share your happiest and candid photos of your loved one to remember them at their best on a Christmas Memorial Tree. Credit: Photospills, Flickr.

There are a surprising amount of memorial photo ornament options online:

DIY ornaments

Creating your own ornaments can be a great way to add a personal touch to your memorial tree. You can use materials that have special meaning, such as fabric from a loved one’s favorite shirt or a piece of jewelry. Some DIY ornament ideas include:

  • Photo ornaments: Print out photos of your loved one and attach them to a simple ornament base. You can also use clear glass ornaments and fill them with small photos or trinkets.
  • Handwritten ornaments: Use a piece of paper or wood to write a special message or quote from your loved one. You can also write their name or initials to personalize the ornament.
  • Keepsake ornaments: Create small ornaments using items that belonged to your loved one, such as buttons, keys, or jewelry. These can be a special reminder of your loved one’s personality and interests.

I just bought these Fillable Clear Hanging Christmas Ornaments in different sizes that come in 2 pieces. I ordered the wrong clear hanging ornament the first time, so make sure you get the one you want (it was only a ball and there was no way to stuff my decoration/memories into the top).

I love the idea that I can pop in a little knick knack, mini decoration, photo, or a piece of favorite clothing from a loved one into the clear memorial Christmas ornament. If you’re looking to go the do-it-yourself route for a memorial tree, these fillable clear Christmas ornaments help you to make it really special.

Memorial tree kits

Memorial tree kits are a great way to get started with your memorial tree. These kits come with everything you need to create a beautiful and personalized tree. You can find these kits on websites like Etsy, where you can choose from a variety of styles and designs.

Some kits come with ornaments that you can customize with names, dates, and special messages. Others come with tree toppers or garlands that have a special meaning. These kits are a great way to get started with your memorial tree and can be a thoughtful gift for someone who has lost a loved one.

Memorial Christmas tree topper

Pulling the entire memorial Christmas tree together is the job of the right Christmas tree topper.

A beautiful idea for a Memorial Christmas tree topper could be a delicate angel figurine holding a photo frame of the deceased loved one. Another thoughtful idea is to use an angel figurine as a tree topper to symbolize the presence of the departed loved one during the holiday season.

The tree below proves that you don’t need a star to top a theme tree. Here the students of Weber Nursing have used their historical nursing cap for both the topper and the purple theme color. Their vintage photos are contained in the glass ornaments; stethoscopes, and other medical equipment decorate the tree.

A vintage nurse hat acts as a Christmas tree topper for a nurse-themed Christmas tribute tree.
A vintage nurse hat acts as a Christmas tree topper for a nurse-themed Christmas tribute tree. Credit: tsayrate, Flickr.

Personalized ornaments with the name and photo of the loved one, serves as a meaningful and heartfelt reminder during the holiday season. Or choose a personalized Memorial Star Christmas tree topper, which can be customized with a special message or the name of the departed loved one.

Think of your deceased loved one and what their hobbies, employment, and passions were that could lend themselves to a themed Christmas memorial tree.

Setting up your memorial Christmas tree

When it comes to choosing a Christmas memorial tree, there are several things to consider.

For example, the tree itself can be a living evergreen tree, or artificial. Many outlets have convenient apartment-size artifical trees and table-top Christmas trees.

It is personal preference and also depends on availability. Someone in Hawaii might choose a small, potted palm tree. Many memorial decorations for girls are even pink!

Selecting a location for your tree

Once you’ve chosen the type of tree you want, it’s time to select a location for it. Some things to consider include:

  • Indoors or outdoors: Do you want your tree to be inside your home or outside? If you choose an outdoor location, make sure it’s a spot that’s visible and easily accessible.
  • Public or private: Do you want your tree to be a public memorial or a private one? If you choose a public location, make sure you have permission from the property owner.
  • Near a special location: Consider placing your tree near a special location, such as a bench or plaque, to make it even more meaningful.

Some people may choose to set up a Christmas tree at a gravesite. With the use of solar lights, the memorial tree can take on a magical tribute in the cemetary. The small, mini-Christmas tree below finds a quiet corner of the home to honor a loved one at Christmas.

Memorial Christmas tree on top of a table.
Memorial Christmas tree on top of a table. Credit: David Fulmer, Flickr.

Memorial table ideas: a space for remembrance

In addition to personalized ornaments, you can also create a space for remembrance. This can be a small memorial table or shelf near your Christmas tree where you can display photos, candles, or other items that remind you of your loved one.

You can also incorporate meaningful items into your themed memorial table. For example, if your loved one was a musician, you can set out musical instruments or sheet music. If they were a gardener, you can use flowers or greenery for a table display.

Memorial table with pictures of deceased loved ones and pets in gilded gold picture frames. A lamp with a gold statue base of a woman is in the background.
The greeter of this table exclaims “Happy Memorial Day!” as they capture this photo of a special memorial table in their home. Credit: Wonderlane, Flickr.”

Unifying the table begins with choosing a color theme. The table below comes together with gold picture frames and a lamp. There also appears to be coins of meaning placed in the forefront. Not only are their a collection of deceased loved ones, but deceased pets garner a special spot as well.

This table is lovely all by itself. With the additions of a few Christmas ornaments, it is ready to remember loved ones during the holidays.

Planning a memorial tree ceremony

If you are looking for a meaningful way to honor the memory of a loved one during the holiday season, consider planning a Christmas memorial tree ceremony. Whether it’s a small collection of friends and family in your home, or a service open to the community in a place of worship or outdoors, this can be an uplifting way to remember the special people in your life who have passed away.

Kids adding their special messages and decorations to a public memorial Christmas tree service.
Kids adding their special messages and decorations to a public memorial Christmas tree service.

Make the memorial tree service special with family and friends

When you invite family and friends to your memorial tree ceremony, be sure to explain the purpose of the event and what they can expect. Let them know that this is a time to remember and honor the person who has passed away, and that they are welcome to bring their own decorations or mementos to add to the tree.

As a friend, you can help the family coordinate the event. The kind gesture is the perfect gift to help out a family that might already be overwhelmed.

Encourage everyone to share stories and memories about the person you are remembering. This can be a powerful way to keep their memory alive and to celebrate their life and legacy.

Online tributes and virtual memorials

Losing a loved one can be a difficult and emotional experience. During the holiday season, it can be especially challenging to cope with the absence of those who have passed away. Fortunately, there are online tributes and virtual memorials that can help you honor and remember your loved ones during this time.

Digital memorial platforms

Digital memorial platforms are websites that allow you to create an online memorial for your loved one. These platforms typically allow you to upload photos, videos, and other meaningful content to create a tribute that reflects your loved one’s life and personality. Some popular digital memorial platforms include Legacy.com, ForeverMissed.com, and MuchLoved.com.

A hispanic couple leaving a virtual memorial tribute online using a laptop.
A senior couple leaving a virtual memorial tribute online for a departed friend.

Many funeral homes that host the obituary allow the opportunity to leave messages online, even if time has past. Here is an example of a meaningful virtual online tribute left in honor of close friends of mine:

“Chuck and I were backyard neighbors with Thelma & Jimmie for many years. I had a chance to go down several times this summer to the house in Nevada and it just wasn’t the same not having Jimmie tending to the little garden and Thelma the flowers. Such a wonderful pair and so sweet, the kind of people you always hope to get for neighbors. So sad to hear the news of Thelma’s passing, my prayers and thoughts are with the family. ”

-Online tribute left on a funeral home website

Overall, online tributes and virtual memorials can be a powerful way to remember and honor your loved ones during the holiday season and beyond. Whether you choose to create a digital memorial or share a social media post, these platforms offer a way to keep your loved one’s memory alive and share their legacy with others.

Social media remembrance posts

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram also offer a way to remember and honor your loved ones online. You can create a post or story that includes photos, memories, and other content that celebrates their life and legacy. You can also use hashtags like #remembrance or #inmemory to connect with others who are also remembering loved ones during the holiday season.

Screenshot of a social media post on Facebook of a granddaughter remembering her grandmother, posting pictures and visiting happy memories from the past.
A Facebook post of a granddaughter remembering her grandmother, posting pictures and visiting happy memories from the past.

Coping with loss during the festive season

The holiday season can be a difficult time for those who have lost a loved one. The festive season is often associated with joy, happiness, and togetherness, which can make it even harder to cope with the loss of a loved one. However, there are ways to manage your grief during this time and still find ways to remember and honor your loved one.

I encourage you to visit my article on Christmas grief that covers coping with grief during the holidays, access to support groups and resources, and self-care.

Participating in activities, such as creating a memorial Christmas tree, is a healthy way to deal with the loss of a loved one.

Renee Cavvy
Renee Cavvy

Renee pulls no punches when it comes to challenging the social norms of gift giving. Her mission: putting an end to meaningless gifts and cutting through the fluff. This midwest mom offers novel and creative ideas to do gift giving better!