Creating Nostalgia is Easier than you Think

creating nostalgic memoriesI like the word nostalgia and the images it evokes.  I think of my grandma’s house, her pink sinks and mint cupboards, the two pre-set tables – one for adults and one for kids, the colored plastic divided plates we always got to use, and the aroma of delicious food bubbling in the oven.  These are my memories of Sunday dinners.

Nostalgia is a wistful desire to return in our minds to a former time in our lives, our homeland, and our relationships.  It’s a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.  (

None of our lives are perfect, and maybe that’s what makes nostalgia endearing, because we remember with fondness something that was special in our past, the ‘cream that rose to the top’ of mundane or difficult times.

What is the essence and causes of nostalgia?  Think of the input you receive from your five senses and the emotion this stirs.  Consider your own heartwarming memory. What
do you see, smell, hear, touch, and taste?  How do you feel?  Our senses are strong evokers of nostalgia because these “stimuli first pass through the amygdala, the emotional seat of the brain. Music, video games, and weather can also be strong triggers of nostalgia.” (

Have you ever thought about creating nostalgic memories for your family to look back on with fondness?  As you can see from my memories at Grandma’s the details I recalled weren’t anything she would have thought unique or special… but they became so for me.  It wasn’t the plastic plates or the color of her decorating, but the feelings those Sunday dinners evoked in me.  Those memories are special because of her exuberant joy and warm hugs assuring me that I was loved and wanted.

Creating nostalgia isn’t exactly what you do, then.  It’s how your friends and family feel when you do it.  You won’t have control of what event your child remembers with affection, but, you can set the tone of your home so they have lots of memories to choose from.

To create nostalgia, focus on these two aspects:

  1. Aim for a peaceful, loving home where there is joy, acceptance, and kindness.
  2. Be intentional with how you can stimulate the senses.  Play music or share live instruments. Cook delicious smelling food and burn fragrant candles. Offer cozy textures of snuggly blankets and silky fabrics, surround yourself with beauty (this doesn’t have to be expensive), practice hospitality and serve tasty food – let some things become your specialty.

You may never know the results of your effort, but, by marrying the two above (a loving environment with pleasures of the senses) you’ve got a good chance your family will have plenty of heart-warming nostalgic memories to recall.  Your home today will have your family and friends feeling warm and loved, not just today, but into their future.

Building nostalgia together,


olivia and stephanieStephanie Allen is Co-founder and President of Dream Dinners and a New York Times best-selling co-author of The Hour that Matters Most. Naturally a visionary and optimist, Stephanie hopes to inspire America through her nurturing voice of encouragement, assuring families…    

“You’re doing a great job!”