How to Throw a Kickin' Clambake

By Elaina Donofrio,

Throw a clambake this summer! Throw a clambake this summer! Long days, rising temperatures, and ice cream becoming a permanent fixture in the freezer all point to one conclusion: it is finally summertime. The grills come out and so do the burgers and dogs. Even though the cookout is a classic, the clambake offers another great weekend option if you want to try something different (or cannot possibly look at another cheeseburger).

Kat Potter of Clambakes Etc. tells GalTime, there's no reason to be scared of the clambake. First you need to pick your cooking method... pit-style or pot-style. With pit-style, you dig a pit for the fire, fill it with charcoal and cover with seaweed. The food (lobster, clams, steamers, crab, potatoes) is then cooked in the pit in wooden boxes.

Another option is to put the food straight onto the seaweed then put another layer of seaweed on top of the food. If you do not have a beach to use for the clambake or you don't want to dig a large hole in your backyard, the pot-style is a great option.

Related: 8 Frugal BBQ Tips

Cook clams over an open flame! Cook clams over an open flame! With a pot-style clambake you cook the food in (you guessed it) a pot over an open flame. This can be the flame of a grill or a backyard fire pit. With this style, you steam the food inside of a pot instead of in a wooden box or directly on the seaweed, although for added flavor, you can put seaweed in the pot with the food.

In addition to the classic main courses, professional event planner Greg Jenkins suggests grilled corn on the cob, Caesar salad, and sourdough rolls as side dishes. For dessert, fresh fruit provides a season appropriate (and healthy!) option. If you want to stick with the theme, saltwater taffy is also a good addition. But don't forget, you can never go wrong with the classic cookie and brownie selection.

Besides food, decorations for a clambake are essential in order to set the mood, especially if you do not host the event on a beach. Sand pails and shovels on each table to hold beach pailbeach pailcondiments or drinks are a cute, useful decoration. Seashells are also a great, easily accessible item to use. Saltwater creature decorations (such as fish, jellyfish, sharks) and fishing nets make a great addition, as do any decorations with brightly colored fabric.

Related: Top Summer Entertaining Tips

Whether you host the party on a beach or in your backyard, make sure that you have enough seating and tables for your guests and beach-themed music playing in the background. No matter the age of your guests, you can't go wrong with The Beach Boys, Hotel California by The Eagles, and Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid.

When you finally have everything you need, a clambake can turn out to be a pretty expensive venture, but here are some cost saving tips:

  • Make it BYOB
  • Use newspaper as tablecloths (plus this adds to the theme!)
  • Place industrial size papertowels on each table instead of fancy napkins
  • And go to a dollar store for decorations

And Greg Jenkins also suggests:

  • Set a budget from the start
  • Host the clambake with other people
  • Ask guests to bring a side dish or dessert
  • And make large containers of lemonade or punch instead of buying bottled or canned beverages

With food, decorations, and great company, you'll be able to throw the perfect clambake. Just remember to give yourself plenty of time to plan!

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