new england clam bakeI'd venture to guess anyone who's a major fan of seafood also happens to love summertime. There's just something about being able to sit outside on a breezy, warm day by the water enjoying lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels, and, of course, clams. Add friends and the beach to the mix, and you've got the foundation for the party of the season!

Though it may sound intimidating, throwing your own awesome clambake at the beach doesn't have to be difficult at all. Here, 8 steps to please a crowd with your very own clambake by the sea ...

  1. Send out a cute beachy invitation that sets the mood and gets guests psyched.
  2. Do some targeted grocery shopping and prep work. Check out New York Times' food guru Mark Bittman's recipe, you'll need 3 pounds waxy potatoes, salt, 6 pounds hard-shell clams, preferably littleneck or cherrystone, well scrubbed, 6 pounds mussels, well scrubbed, 8 to 12 ears fresh corn, 8 to 12 small lobsters, 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, for serving, and lemon wedges, for serving. Don't forget a shovel, a tarp, a few garbage bags, a bucket, some cheesecloth, a box of matches, lots of newspaper, firewood ("do not underestimate your firewood needs," Bittman warns), and kindling.
  3. Find a suitable beach -- which may require checking local ordinances regarding what’s permitted on the beach. 
  4. Start early. A clambake is very nearly an all-day production, as you'll need lots of time to gather bags of seaweed and armloads of firewood.
  5. Consider having a festive communal bowl, so guests discard empty shells in style.
  6. Or ... PLAN B: If you'd rather not toil for hours at the beach, Bon Appetit's got an awesome one-pot clambake recipe that'll feed your crowd a lot faster, and is doable just about anywhere -- whether you're celebrating in your own backyard, on the deck, etc.
  7. If you only have two beverage options, stick to beer and lemonade -- sure to please!
  8. No matter what you do, don't forget some useful favors for guests like a lobster cracker and a fun bib, because things can get messy!

Have you ever thrown a clambake?