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Celebrate a 4th of July Anniversary with a Clambake

Clambake party ideas

Summer is not only a great time for a seaside picnic. It’s also a wonderful chance to get family and friends together for a memorable anniversary party—in New England clambake style. Plus, throw in elements to pay tribute to the 4th of July…and how much fun could this party by the water be? Just think of a festive yet elegant palette that combines seaside and patriotic hues together with glistening silver accents—in honor of that 25th anniversary. Then, use the outdoors as your décor, incorporating easy-to-prepare centerpieces and table settings that befit the casual mood of the day. Continue this with the food all the way to gifts for the guests, and you’ll have a clambake-style party that combines class with enjoyment to mark this happy occasion!

Décor and Table Settings for a “Classy Clambake”

This is an anniversary party after all. So, aim for an elegant picnic atmosphere—one that’s welcoming and comfortable, but not entirely casual. To achieve this, minimalism is the call of the day!

A patriotic color palette – Start with a clean, crisp color scheme consisting of varying shades of blue, from aqua to navy. Add touches of red and even yellow throughout the decor. Bring in elements in white and/or ivory to balance the interplay of blue and red.

As for the table settings, consider these 3 simple and budget-friendly ideas:

Place card holders – Since it’s a seaside clambake party, use these shell card holders or frames to let guests know where they’ll be seated and everyone will be happy. These elements not only complement the theme without going overboard (no pun intended!), they also become the guest favors once the party is over. Hint: They can be used to hold a souvenir photo of this gathering to be displayed on a home desk or dresser.

Table centerpieces – Present pretty white carnations in chic, square glass vases decorated with bands of aqua and red ribbon. For a hint of candlelight, arrange white votives in sparkling blue candle holders in an “S” formation around the vases, interspersed with candlelight. Hint: You only need a few lighting elements to achieve a lovely glow.

Place settings – Lay out classic white plates resting on brilliant silver chargers. Top these with white table napkins tied with a navy blue checkered ribbon or even a red, white, and blue ribbon. Hint: You can then sprinkle a few silver, red, and blue confetti stars around each place setting to echo the 4th of July theme.

Appetizers to Desserts for Fun Buffet Fare

In keeping with the “classy clambake” approach, serve dinner buffet-style to infuse fun and frivolity into the event, but present it in a tasteful and stylish fashion. Here are some tips—for appetizers to desserts—on how to make this party extra-special:

As appetizers, present shrimp cocktails in sleek martini glasses with a hint of lemon, along with fresh oysters served with mignonette sauce. Provide guests with little cocktail forks as a genteel touch!

Offer typical clambake fare, consisting of boiled lobsters, clams, blue mussels, and quahogs, including steamed crabs. But lay these dishes out on elegant silver platters atop a long buffet table. This allows your guests to choose what suits their fancy and come back for more. It’s meant to be a fun party after all.

Be sure to have the staples such as sweet corn on the cob, linguica (a type of sausage that is a favorite in Cape Cod), clam chowder, baked redskin potatoes, rice pilaf, coleslaw, corn bread, and butter.

Have condiments—like lemon butter sauce for dipping, fresh lemon wedges, etc.—presented in pretty white porcelain bowls. No plastic for this special occasion…and definitely no styro, please!

End the meal with lovely desserts; serve up a blueberry and raspberry cheesecake to mark the patriotic theme of the party. Be sure to offer refreshing watermelons that are always a nice treat for the summer. Frosted cupcakes sprinkled with red and blue stars also make wonderful treats for kids and adults alike. And for an extra treat, have an ice cream bar serving up delightful summer flavors with a nostalgic feel, such as vanilla, strawberry, and rocky road. Lastly, put in some sugary snow cones flavored with red and blue-colored syrups.

Whimsical “Gift Buckets” for Out-of-Town Guests

For an occasion as important as a silver anniversary party, you’re sure to have some special out-of-town guests coming over. Give them something thoughtful and practical to mark this memorable trip. And since it’s a clambake party they’ve come for, beach buckets filled with delightful goodies make a fitting gift choice. Spa items to echo the relaxed feel of the seaside event would be great bucket fillers! Try these: a bottle of luxurious milk bath, a box of chocolate truffles (to eat on the way home), some scented glass beads with shells packaged in a blue wrapping, and a bar of seaspray-scented soap. To view this beach bucket, read Surprise Your Beach-Wedding Guests With Gift Buckets.


  1. My parents will be celebrating their silver anniv. party this summer. The idea of clambake is great because my father loves to go fishing! What do you recommend as some event colors?

  2. You can have a beautiful palette of sea blue and white with touches of silver. This creates a very classy look. Think of adding some candles to the tables with floral centerpieces containing flowers such as pretty callas!

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