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Clambakes are one of my absolute favorite New England traditions. They’re also a pretty fabulous way to celebrate summer holidays, like Father’s Day, 4th of July, and Memorial Day. If you’ve never been, a clambake is an outdoor party where clams and other seafood, like lobster, crab legs, shrimp, and oysters, are served. They’re traditionally hosted at or near the beach and prepared outside by digging a hole in the ground, layering it with stones, and lighting a fire on top. Fortunately, though, you don’t need to live on the coast to host one. Everyone can enjoy a summer clambake at home, wherever that may be, by firing up the grill or investing in the right clambake equipment. If you’re looking for tips on how to host a clambake, keep reading. I’m sharing all my top clambake party essentials, including both decor ideas and “logistical” clambake equipment, in today’s post!
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1. Galvanized Party Tub– A large galvanized party tub is a perfect vessel for keeping seafood-friendly drinks, like mini bottles of white wine, cold.
2. Gingham Plates– Red and blue is such a classic summer color palette, and gingham is a classic summer print. So, these blue melamine gingham plates are perfect for styling a festive tablescape. They come in red, too!
3. Lobster String Lights– How fun are these string lobster lights? They’re battery powered, so string them along the table or hang them up for some extra ambiance.
4. Oh Shuck Yeah Stadium Cups– Clambakes are casual gatherings, so I don’t recommend putting out fancy drinking glasses. Not only are these Oh Shuck Yeah stadium cups super cute, guests can take theirs home as a memento.
5. Hanging Paper Lanterns– Partly as lighting and partly as inexpensive party decor, paper lanterns are one of my favorite versatile summer party decorations. This set includes 6 (3 gingham-patterned, 3 solid-colored) and is under $20!
6. Lobster Bake Serving Tray– Having extra serving trays on hand is always a good idea for sides, like potatoes, corn on the cob, hush puppies, etc. Some people also serve each seafood separately (lobsters on a plate, clams in a bowl, etc), so if you prefer yours that way, this festive tray would also be perfect for serving lobster!
7. Seafood Tool Set– Shellfish-eating tools are an absolute must-have if you’re serving crab or lobster. This handy set literally has it all– butter warmers, crab crackers, lobster shellers, and crab leg forks.
8. Oversized Gingham Napkins– These gingham napkins are festive and a must-have for soaking up butter spills and seafood splatters. Side Note: It’s also probably a good idea to have lots of wet wipes on hand, too.
9. 4-Qt Lobster Bake Soup Pot– Clambakes can be grilled, baked, or steamed. If you’re following a one-pot clam or lobster recipe, this adorable four-quart pot is perfect for both cooking for and serving smaller parties. If you’re cooking for a larger group, may want to use this 18-quart lobster stock pot instead.
10. Lobster Bibs– Clambakes are wonderfully messy affairs, especially for kids. Lobster bibs are a super fun way to get everyone in the clambake spirit and protect their clothes simultaneously.
11. Galvanized Two-Tiered Stand– This galvanized tiered stand is perfect for serving hors d’oeuvres and mini sides, like mini lobster rolls, hush puppies, or corn on the cob.
12. Oh Shuck Yeah Beverage Napkins– At a clambake, the rule is the more napkins, the better. These Shuck Yeah beverage napkins are super cute and great for serving hors d’oeuvres and drinks!
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13. Galvanized Bar Cart– Set up a self-serve drink station with this galvanized bar cart! I like to set out a drink tub with wine and beer, as well as pitchers of sweet tea, water, and lemonade for kids and non-drinkers. A DIY watermelon keg is always a fun idea, too!
14. Clambake Party Invitations– Snail mail from friends is super rare, so consider sending paper clambake party invitations to help make your event extra special and memorable.
15. Lobster Cake Candles– Dress up any cakes or desserts with these super fun lobster cake candles!
16. 18-Quart Lobster Stock Pot– I love this festive lobster stock pot because it’s perfect for one-pot clambake recipes. I also love that you can buy a whole table setting and set of enamel servers to match!
17. Mini Lanterns– These white, vintage-inspired mini lanterns hold tea lights and look adorable in centerpieces! They also make cute clambake party favors, too.
18. Nautical Place Card Holders– How adorable are these nautical knot place card holders? Each set comes with 6 and includes matching place cards!
19. Nautical Bottle Openers– If you’re throwing a larger soiree (like a wedding or a birthday party), consider handing out cute clambake party favors, like these life saver bottle openers. They look adorable in place settings and can also be used as makeshift place card holders!
20. Striped Paper Table Runner– A tablecloth isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but I prefer paper table runners for outdoor parties. The likelihood that they’ll make it through the party without getting ruined is significantly higher. If you prefer tablecloths, definitely get an easily washable or cheap/disposable one!
21. Galvanized Utensil Holder– A utensil holder is a must-have for holding standard utensils and seafood tools. The rope handle detail makes this one extra cute and nautical!
22. Lobster Serving Bowl– If you’re going to serve roasted veggies or potato salad, this lobster serving bowl is pretty perfect! Also, if you’re serving the seafood separately (lobsters on a plate, clams in a bowl, etc), this bowl would also work well for holding clams and mussels!
24. Galvanized Serving Tray– Clambakes become shockingly Instagram-friendly when all the colorful seafood is mixed together and served on a cute tray!
Confession– I’m a born-and-raised Floridian, but I’ll admit that I don’t have many secret family seafood recipes in my arsenal. If you have any delicious New England clambake recipes you’re willing to share (sides, drinks, whatever), I’d appreciate them!
Thanks so much for reading, y’all!