I need an urn, but don’t want it to look like an urn

Posted by
I don’t know, does this scream “URN!” to you?
Help! I’m trying to find a suitable urn to keep some of my father’s ashes in, that isn’t, like, totally weird and all: “THIS IS AN URN.”

I just don’t want this… sculpture-type thing sitting around my house that yells “URN!” Why are all urns so damn creepy?

I mean, I guess I could put it in any container, right? But what have other Offbeat Homies done with their urns? -Colleen

Based on the number of requests that we get to make an Offbeat Funerals website, we’re pretty sure you’re not the only one of our readers to wrestle with this kind question. While we have no plans to launch Offbeat Funerals, we do have a pretty extensive section of Offbeat Home devoted to the issues of death and dying… and all those conversations have been pretty amazing.

So let’s see what we can do when our Homies put their virtual heads together to come up with some urn alternatives…

The one pictured here is one that’s easily found by searching Amazon. There’s something about the wood grain that gives it an Earthy feel… somehow, that makes this urn feel less creepy than others. But still… there’s that ol’ “I’m an urn” shape to it…

Editor Catherine recently lost her father and found a way to integrate a non-urn into her decor with this decorative box bought from a craft store. She added a little photo inside and it now sits on her shelf without looking too creepy or out-of-place.


Homies, when you found yourself in need of an urn, or a vessel in which to keep your loved ones’ ashes, what kind of non-creepy, non-traditional non-urn-like containers did you find?

Comments on I need an urn, but don’t want it to look like an urn

  1. My mom is a potter. When my dogbaby died, she made me a beautiful jar to keep his cremains in. Maybe contact local artists. You might even find a student who would be willing to make something for you. Potters, woodworkers, glass blowers…. the options are endless.

  2. I was visiting my mom when my dad’s cremated remains came in the mail. I was surprised at what the container looked like: it was a gold colored metallic box that looked like a box of See’s chocolates!
    I don’t see why you couldn’t use any container at all; I would just make sure that it can seal securely and won’t break open if you drop it, like what happened at the end of the movie Chocolat’.

  3. I don’t really need to add anything, but this topic is a source of poignant amusement for me. I tell good stories about it but the short version

    1) my dad is in a brass metallic sealed box like the one Naomi mentioned. He sits on my bookshelf and it is awesome. The funeral home gave us that option when my mom mentioned she might want to put him in the crypt at her church. Luckily, I busted him out. Btw, it was very inexpensive.

    2) my dad’s dad is in the cardboard box the funeral home sent us when my dad never bothered to pick up his ashes. He is in my attic but for years he was in a storage attic and discovered when I cleaned it out. He was supposed to be sent to Ohio to be spread next to my grandmother, but that never happened because

    3) my grandmother’ ashes are in a Manila bubble envelope from 1972 that we seem to have lost track of. Not in Ohio. For reals.

    I’d look around for option one if you want something totally classy, not creepy and can inspire the following…

    “Is that a book? What’s that box?”
    “Oh my dad’s in there…” (Gleeful pause, then mercy) “His ashes, I mean.”

  4. I don’t know if you are stuck on a container, or what your budget is, but my mom and her 2 sisters turned my grandmother into art glass (something like this: http://www.memoryglass.com/touchstones.asp , but not from that company, because our funeral home knew people who did it). My mom then had it mounted into a piece of stained glass shaped like a celtic knot (my grandmother was Irish). No one knows but us, and this way it is always looking over us at dinner (in a non-creepy overt way).

  5. A former coworker had mentioned wanting her ashes placed in a really fancy book box – sort of like the ones at the craft stores, but made of sturdier/more expensive material.

    If I wasn’t going to do the Decomponaut (mushroom bag) burial, I would opt for being cremated and placed in a fancy book box as well.

  6. My grandfather’s ashes were kept in an antique tool box, after a life time of being a general contractor/all around handyman. I honestly don’t know if they were scattered after the funeral, but the toolbox stood in the place of a casket at the funeral.

  7. Totally non-traditional: a friend of ours was a rock climber, and he had his ashes mixed with climbers’/gymnasts’ chalk. We ordered a bag, put it in with the regular chalk, and now he’ll continue to climb with us for years.

  8. My father collected whiskey jars… Jim beam ones… And so I picked my favorite and put my dad in it until I was able to go where I wanted to spread his ashes

  9. My father is a woodworker and artist and sells beautiful boxes made of turned wood and found objects (usually stone or metal) that have often been used as urns. They’re very unique looking and don’t scream urn at all. If you’re interested, please email me ([email protected]). He doesn’t have an online presence, and predominantly sells at the Oregon Country Fair, but I could put you in contact with him if you’d like.

  10. Seriously, my great graandparents are wrapped up like beautiful presents. Fancy embossed, high qaulity paper with gold/silver ribbon, the works. They look like the cream of crops gifts. Is it creepy? Maybe. but in my family is symbolizes that their lives and memories were a gift and we should all be greatful for them. It also serves as a reminder that our own lives and memories are precious gifts.

  11. I just buried my best friends grandmother in a popcorn tin. She had picked it out before she died, and she wanted her ashes mixed with her late husbands, and they both fit nicely in the tin. We had a good laugh about it later because her Daughter had forgotten to take the price off the bottom before they buried it.

  12. My father is a Tardis-shaped coffee mug which has a lid. Every Saturday night they watched “Doctor Who” together and it’s pretty perfect for him. He was also a huge coffee drinker with a dark sense of humor. When my mom passes she’d like her ashes mixed in and then to have it sealed shut. She bought it online for a less than $20. http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e5c5/?srp=4

  13. Thanks, everyone, for your creative ideas. A friend of mine is faced with a challenge. She lives in a state that doesn’t allow pets’ ashes to be allowed inside a person’s coffin. This is a difficult subject for her. She has two beloved cats that lived over 17 years and the love went both ways. I figured that I would do a search on her behalf. She would love some solid metal boxes for each of her beloved cats that could be permanently sealed, and would not look like urns, and would have her family say that these were her personal time capsules…I’m open to other suggestions. I’m going to follow=up on the suggestion pertaining to brass boxes….can brass be permanently sealed? So that is the scenario. Any practical suggestions are desired. Thank you for creating this wonderful website!

  14. On Facebook, search ‘Artful Ashes’. They make them into beautiful glass sculptures, and they certainly don’t look like ashes.. but each is unique and very pretty.

  15. My Dad just passed, it was expected so we planned ahead of time. He really loved old trucks, so we got a cookie jar, a 1940 Ford F-1 truck to use as his urn to be buried in the cemetery, I will save some ashes for urn jewelry for my brother and myself and my step-mom is saving some to put in some old car Avon bottles my Dad held onto. We are way out of the box. To keep the cookie jar safe we were going to make a capsule out of pvc pipe, but it would have taken an 8″ pipe so we got a plain white 5 gallon bucket and I put his name and DOB and DOD on the lid and around the sides of the bucket I drew pictures of his interest, an old Ford truck with the Ford emblem below, a catfish, rooster and hen and several tools. Everyone so far seems to like it, we will see how it is received at the memorial. Oh and to keep cookie jar in place we are going to use the spray expandable foam (Dad loved the stuff) and put Duct tape around the top just because he also loved duct tape.

  16. Some of my grandparents’ ashes were mixed in with concrete to make stepping stones. We used stamps to put their name on the stone that held their ashes, and they sit under a tree that we planted in their honor.

  17. My mom has picked out her vessels for my brother & I. One is a clay jar with a lid that can be sealed. The other is an old decorative liquor bottle, it’s actually porcelain so it’s not totally strange. However the funeral director told her there will still be more so we need something else to do with the extra, I’m thinking of either planting a tree with them or having a fired glass sun catcher made with them.

Read more comments

Comments are closed.