By: Julianna Oates
Walking the line between comfortable casual and elegantly formal, a New England Clambake is the perfect way to spend a summer evening.
Seafood soaked in melted butter, the sound of freshly steamed shellfish being cracked open, and the “pop” before the pouring of something bubbly make New England Clambakes unmistakable.
Summertime at my grandparents’ home is where the family gathers for a feast. Sounds of waves crashing outside the back door mingle with faint laughter to create the most perfect background noise. As a child, I loved the big family dinners, and my grandparents’ home was the perfect setting. As a teenager, it seemed like an exorbitant amount of work for a messy meal that would inevitably end with hours of hand washing dishes. It wasn't until I started my own family that I realized the annual clambake was about so much more than finding the perfect centerpiece or expertly placed lobster platters.
The days spent prepping food, choosing linens, and washing silverware remain a labor of love. Every layer of preparation serves as an expression of my grandmother’s devotion to her family. Yes, she is a gracious hostess who always manages to pull off a casually elegant meal, but for this event she pulls out all the stops. The linens are pressed to perfection, not just because it's beautiful, but because there's nothing quite like preparing an event for those you care about. When there is passion in the party planning, it's a sure bet for the best soiree. As with all the best events, it’s more than the food, drinks, or decorations. The best parties, whether for a robust group of 100 or a small gathering of five, guests ultimately depart with happy feelings and lingering memories.
One day, when these annual family clambakes are a thing of the past and fade into memories, each time I spot blue gingham napkins or wooden seafood mallets, I will think of the perfect summer evening by the sea, surrounded by family.
“When you are planning your next event, consider the memories guests will carry with them when the gathering is all said and done. Chances are, you are giving them more than a great meal; you are giving them a wonderful memory.”