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How to Plan a New England Clambake

When I was little, I marveled at my mother who hosted dinners and parties of 200 at my parents restaurant in Valdosta.  I’d follow her around as she managed dozens of entrees from the kitchen, timed the entire evening impeccably, all while greeting each of her guests by their first name.  She’d always put me to work too.  At 8, I was in the kitchen making appetizers.  At 12, I was answering phones and taking orders.  And at 16, I was managing the entire waitstaff as we tackled yet another busy weekend shift.  I’m pretty sure I have my mother to thank for my love of a well-planned party.

When this wonderful family told me they were planning a Clambake with their closest friends & family in Cape Cod, I immediately offered to help.  Matt & I scheduled calls with the caterers and rental companies, mapped out the decor details, and coordinated all of this miles away from the destination.  My mother would have been so proud.

I had the opportunity of documenting this fun evening for our friends (while holding a cocktail in my other hand, of course), and put together a few tips in case any of you were thinking of hosting a Clambake 😉  Or any type of party, for that matter!

1. Choose a fabulous location

Never under-estimate the power of an incredible location.  Lucky for us, Matt’s family rented a beautiful and charming home along the beaches of Cape Cod.  You could hear the waves crashing as you sipped on your cocktail – pure perfection.

2. Remember the details

We decided on a nautical-like blue & white color pallet, then everything fell into place from there.  How lovely it was for me to help plan an event where I didn’t have my own pocketbook to think about 🙂  Thank you for indulging me, Matt.

3. Invite your loved ones

The key to an absolutely amazing evening are your guests.  No question.  Matt grew up in the area and spent many of his summers on the Cape, so it was important for him to celebrate that evening with some of the closest people in his life.

4. Splurge on the FOOD!

The food was INCREDIBLE, well thought out, and executed with perfection.  Matt wanted each of his guests to experience a Clambake unlike any other, so he went all out on the food.  One lobster per guest, including the little ones?  Why, of course.

5. Have a well stocked bar

This one is a no-brainer!

6. Take your shoes off & enjoy yourself

Another great tip is, when at a Clambake, to leave the formality at the door.  Matt really wanted a casual and relaxed atmosphere for his guests while not skipping out on any of the details…  Host your party on any beach, and you will no doubt accomplish that.

7. Party into the night

…even if the kids end up enjoying their first night out wayyyyyy past their bedtimes.

The globe lights created a warm and inviting reason for the guests to linger longer.  It was 100% worth the time and effort Matt and his brothers spent on installing the lights.  Pair that with drinks and the sound of the ocean, and I guarantee no one will want to leave.

8. Bring along your favorite photographer

So you can document your beautiful party.

And, of course, so you can get pretty stellar shots like these.  Sweet.

9. Thank your incredible hosts

Kyu and I are so thankful to know this couple and spend the evening getting to know some of the closest people in their lives.  I finally figured out where Jack gets his sweetness (Aunt Kate), how to camp out on the beach (for another post!), and just how much Ben & Jack are loved.  Immensely.


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