Monday, July 13, 2009

Casual Clambake

Summer is the perfect time for casual entertaining! Why not have a Clambake with your friends? I have lots of tips for a simple, easy, and fun Clambake all for under $250! Even if you don’t live near the water or don’t have an outdoor space to entertain, you can bring the beach to you with an intimate, elegant, and simple setting, indoors or outdoors!

Let’s start with décor. I always like to start off with my number one rule, Shop at Home! I love to incorporate items that are easy to find around the house; often using these items again and again while putting a new twist each time I use them. So, start with shopping around your kitchen, cupboards, garage, attic, or wherever in your house that you store items that you are not using. For example, maybe you have glass hurricane vases that you use during Christmas time on the mantle of your fireplace. You could use these same vases, fill them with some play sand to anchor them down and place a large candle in the center. You could even dress up these candles by hot gluing seashells onto them! is an amazing website where you can purchase all sorts of shells such as starfish and sand dollars and other festive items for an incredible price, and they ship quickly! If you are entertaining outdoors and are worried about summer bugs getting in the way of your Clambake, buy the Citronella scented candles to help keep those pesky insects away from your food!

Another easy addition to the décor that you may have found lying in the shed or garage is old terra cotta pots. If you don’t have any of these, you can find them at pretty much any garden center. White wash the pots with white paint, and use a glue gun to attach sea shells onto them! Again, is a great resource! Use these terra cotta pots as holders for your Clambake tools. Place one of these terra cotta pots in between each guest in the center of the table so that they can share the lobster picks, crackers, and mallets. I actually found some very festive lobster shaped shell cracking tools at a local discount store! Oh, and don’t forget to include lobster bibs!

To add a punch of color and texture to your table arrangements, accent the candle and terra cotta centerpieces with daisy and mum heads. Also, place some extra terra cotta pots at each place setting so people can dispose of their food shells. It keeps everything in one place and it makes the clean up a sinch!

Worried about getting your table dirty from all this shell cracking? Simply cut garbage bags so that they cover the table, then cover the bags with sheets of your daily newspaper. You have just created a table cloth perfect for a traditional clambake and it makes cleaning easy. All you have to do is just roll everything up in the paper and toss it into a trash bag! If you are entertaining outdoors, my personal favorite replacement for a tablecloth at a clambake is to use netting from as a decorative beach-setting option. Use newspaper for the placemats and terra cotta saucers as plates!

Since Clambakes do tend to get a little bit messy, I recommend using bar towels as napkins. They are cheap, super absorbent, and you can wash them or throw them away at the end of your party. Tie these towels with a little bit of rope to keep consistent with your beach theme and place them at each table setting with a shell or starfish! Also, to add some comfort and flare to your seating, place brightly colored beach towels around the table. Another great way to incorporate sea shells in your décor is to take half of the lion’s paw seashell and place salt and pepper into each half. You can place one at each setting for individual salt and pepper servings!
Guests are usually always asking, “How can I help?” “Is there something I can bring?” Take your guests up on this offer and have them contribute to the décor or to the food. This keeps the costs down for you and makes things more exciting! Ask them to bring what you need and what will help make this a fabulous party for all!
For the food, believe it or not mussels and other shellfish are not that expensive, they don’t stink up the house like you’d think, and there are plenty of wonderful side dishes that are inexpensive and get your guests in the summer spirit. I usually recommend mussels, clams, sausage, and potatoes. Throw everything into a deep pot with some water (or for flavor a cheap white table wine) simmer until everything is cooked and viola you have a hearty meal for not a lot of money! Serve it with some baguettes of bread and your guests will go gaga for this easy dinner! Have guests with allergies? No problem! Serve hot dogs or burgers. You can even do a Create Your Own Station for these favorite American Foods!
No party is complete without a specialty cocktail. For this summer occasion, I recommend my famous “Blueberry Tart.” All it takes is 2 parts Blueberry Vodka, 1 part Sour Mix, and 1 part Club Soda. Fill a ball jar with ice and pour contents in. Garnish with a bamboo skewer of blueberries and you have a refreshing cocktail! Tastes like blueberry lemonade!

For kids, or those who don’t drink, use blueberry seltzer and sour mix for a fun fizzy drink. Tastes just as good! Another fun drink for the summer is a “Creamsicle Martini.” Just take 4 parts Vanilla Vodka, 4 parts Orange Vodka, 2 parts Countreau, and a heavy splash of orange juice. Pour the liquid ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake, shake, shake! Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with an orange slice!

To help put a little spin on this, have your guests bring their favorite beer; not the traditional Coors or Budweiser, but have them bring some unique micro brews. You would be surprised how many different beers there are and how many go great with this Clambake!

Now that the adults have fun cocktails, we can’t forget about fun for the kids! It is always important to have something fun to keep the kids occupied! A fun activity is to make sand art! While at the craft store picking up other supplies for the party, buy sand in a variety of different colors. Help the kids pour different colors of sand one at a time into ball jars and decorate with seashells! You can also use your lobster tool to push through the different color layers of sand to make neat shapes! Guests can take these home at the end of the evening to remember what a wonderful time they had at your Clambake!

All of these tips can help you prepare for an inexpensive, yet elegantly done Clambake! You are going to enjoy this so much that you will want to make it an annual event! This can take up to a full day of preparations, or you can choose to spread it out over a few days. Up to you! And it only takes a few hours for this easy set up! At the end of the night, don’t forget to save your seashells and other decorative items for another event! You never know when these things may come in handy!

Until nest time...Cheers!

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