*its beginning to look a lot like christmas* tree by Chris_J.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Chris Jones

Lots of funeral homes offer holiday remembrance services and most of them know one important point:  it’s already too late to plan your service this year!

But the great thing about being so close to the holidays this year is that you can start planning the 2009 service now and then put the preparations aside until next October.

Here’s the things you should do now, before Christmas 2008:

CHOOSE A DATE.  Set it now.  One successful service I attend every year is held on the first Friday of December, regardless of what other events might be happening in town.  Why does this help?  Because those who attend the first years always know when it will be held again and those you tell during the year can remember “1st Friday in December” better than “December 5th.”

BOOK A MUSICAL ACT.  A friend of mine just had costumed carolers at his event.  They sang songs before, during and after the service.  Dressed in Victorian costumes, they charged less that $300 for the quartet.  But book now, while they’re doing gigs this year, because their schedule will fill up quickly and you want your special date.

BOOK A MINISTER.  Same as that musical act, your minister’s schedule is often planned months in advance.  Don’t get stuck because your minister is doing a wedding on your special day; book him/her now!

DESIGN YOUR INVITATION.  Got some extra time this year?  Draw up your invitation now.  You’ll be sending this to families who have experienced a death the previous year, so keep that in mind for your wording.

START AN ADDRESS SPREADSHEET.  If you don’t have other software, create a spreadsheet where you can enter a family’s name and address for your invitee list.  When you serve families throughout the year, take a second to enter their name and address here, along with the date of death of the deceased.  That way, when it’s time to print your invitations and envelopes, you’ll have a list already compiled.  Just make sure you start adding to the list on December 25th of this year.

BUY DECORATIONS AFTER CHRISTMAS 2008.  Get yourself a nice tree and some good decorations.  If you plan to give away ornaments to each family (one year, I gave away origami doves that our staff had folded), buy those now while they’re on sale 75% off.

Later, we’ll discuss what you’ll need to do throughout 2009 and next October, to prepare for your holiday remembrance service.