What’s old is new — or at least trendy — again. Tapping into nostalgia is one way to hit a home run when it comes to reaching the right emotional connection points at events. Evoking feelings of the past while incorporating fresh and modern aspects, brings comfort and excitement all at the same time. Here are three ways to bring nostalgia into your events.
So many of us have fond, vivid memories of gatherings centered around food, which makes it the perfect avenue to help bring back those nostalgic vibes. Think of a supper club experience. Slow dining without feeling like there’s somewhere to go. Interesting conversation and connecting with the people around you. Delicious food and enjoying classic favorites while still surprising your palate. This could be as large-scale as incorporating a full supper club service into a catering menu. Or it could be a less-intensive nod to these decades gone by such as a wooden fresh pepper mill for the salad at a dinner buffet.
For example, we recently launched “The Blu Supper Club,” which focuses on the experience of dining and makes guests feel like they’re at a restaurant instead of another cookie-cutter event meal. To lean into nostalgia and make this concept come to life, we offer a menu with several courses, each highlighting comfort foods, such as a classic salad and soup of the day along with a choice of prime rib, walleye, chicken or hearty vegetarian entrée. For dessert, we bring guests back to the ’60s with in-room flambe stations for a sweet ending that adds a nostalgic aroma to this throwback experience.
If this is too big of a scale for your team, think about how to incorporate nostalgic elements into your service. Maybe it’s renaming dishes for a themed buffet with nods to the past, or perhaps it’s bringing back oldies but goodies such as a reimagined meatloaf or casserole offering.
Together with food, beverages are a way to evoke old memories and create new ones. This is an area that is great to play with for events of all sizes and budgets. Themed beverage stations are a perfect way to add flair — and are a great way to incorporate amazing visuals that enhance the event and create Instagram-able moments. When considering your approach, think about the attire the bartenders are wearing, the way the spirit bottles are displayed, the lighting and more.
From a classic cocktail station serving up old fashioneds, Manhattans, martinis and sidecars to a station where guests can sample different cordials, aperitifs or digestives, add themed stations to fit your event. Coffee stations are another surefire hit. And don’t forget the educational opportunities that come with each station, too. Why are some drinks stirred and others shaken? What is the history of pre- and post-dinner drinks? What contributes to the tasting notes of different coffees? These interactions keep event goers engaged and provide nuggets they’ll want to share with their colleagues and loved ones well beyond the end of the event.
While food and drink are integral parts of any event, when you’re looking to take things to the next level, entertainment is where it’s at. When it comes to nostalgia, the dining experience is part of the entertainment, so don’t overlook this. Focus on the five senses to hit all the right notes.
Sounds and visuals are two of the most impactful ways to add entertainment to an event. We always incorporate music to set the mood. This could be a live piano player and/or crooner or someone spinning vinyl. For a budget-friendly option, put together a themed playlist. From extravagant photo op stations to floral displays to themed service ware and more, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating memorable visuals. If you’re looking for something less expensive, think about what elements you’ll already have and how you can elevate those. From themed signage to how you set up your stations, work nostalgia into these facets to add excitement without breaking the bank.
When it comes to creating moments and events that matter, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. But no matter how large or small, how simple or complex, lean into nostalgia to create your next memorable event.
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