Soiree

A great set-up for an oyster table. Photo by Amber Lanier

A great set-up for an oyster table. Photo by Amber Lanier

Any coastal holiday tradition can vary, but the one thing that always is a must: fresh oysters. After all, it is the season for shucking! Traditionally, oysters are eaten primarily in cooler months when the shellfish aren’t spawning. Not everyone waits for the “months with ‘R’s,” but not much is better than enjoying the salty treats by an open, outdoor fire.

Of course, for those who don’t like oysters, a good host always has something else prepared; at our house it’s clam chowder. Here are a few tips to make your holiday oyster roast the most unforgettable gathering of the season.

The first must-have is the right oyster. If you live in Brunswick County, you likely prefer Stump Sound, Shallotte Point or Lockwood Folly oysters. Once you decide on the oysters you want, always call the provider and reserve enough to feed your guests with a little extra, just in case a guest has a super-size appetite. Make sure you reserve them for the day of your party to ensure absolute freshness.

Saltine crackers, melted butter, and hot sauce should be served along with homemade fried cornbread, which is a true Southern delicacy. If you haven’t tried fried cornbread, you should—very soon.

Homemade cornbread and hot sauce are quintessential fixin's for a Southern oyster roast. Photo by Amber Lanier

Homemade cornbread and hot sauce are quintessential fixin’s for a Southern oyster roast. Photo by Amber Lanier

Now that your menu is planned, it’s time for the best part: decorating. You can go elaborate or simple. My preference is simple elegance.

A Christmas tree is nice but not a necessity to make your party fabulous. Plenty of comfortable seating around a roaring fire pit is just as inviting. You do, however, need  a designated table for eating your oysters, and I recommend not decorating it with anything other than oyster knives, paper towels and old rags (so you don’t burn your hands when the oysters are ready to eat). You also want to have tables for those guests who are not eating oysters. I recommend a table runner with a simple centerpiece of candles, fresh greenery and festive ribbon.

A table or bar should also be set up with a variety of beverages. Make sure you consider your guests when choosing the right refreshments. Using different drink dispensers along with a variety of glassware should be all the decoration you need. A vintage ice bucket is always a nice touch instead of a cooler.

Drinks and treats for everyone. Photo by Amber Lanier

Drinks and treats for everyone. Photo by Amber Lanier

Be sure to have a relaxed seating area with pillows, quilts or blankets for guests to unwind. If you don’t have any outdoor pillows or décor, take items from inside outside.  Keep in mind while choosing decorative items that your color scheme should be cohesive to ensure a visually pleasing atmosphere. Traditional holiday colors are red and green, but don’t forget there are many other colors that are just as merry.

No matter what you decide for your holiday gathering, remember to enjoy yourself and your guests. Merry Christmas, y’all!

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