July 4th - Nantucket Style! / by Gary McBournie

The gardens at our Nantucket home.

The gardens at our Nantucket home.

Summer has finally arrived in Nantucket!  The weather on the island typically lags about thirty days behind the mainland but the trees have now leafed out, the gardens are blooming and the beach is calling.  One of our favorite ways is kick off the summer season is to  host an annual July 4th "Lobsterfest" for visiting family and close friends.  The evening is all about cocktails, lots of "catching up" conversation, lobsters, wine, and laughter. 

We typically start planning for the July 4th holiday sometime in April/May.  Discussions begin in our family as to who can make it, where they will sleep (we only have four bedrooms) and how long they will stay.  From there we move on to regular group of island friends to see who might be available.  Once the list is finalized, I start to work on a Paperless Post electronic invitation.  I think the formal invitation helps to reaffirm the festive nature of the event and the email format makes it easy to send/receive.  Paperless Post also has a great selection of invitations and they are easy to customize.  You can check it out at https://www.paperlesspost.com. Here is our invitation from last year:

Nantucket Party Rentals is usually my next call.  NPR provides folding tables and chairs, linens, china, silverware, glassware, tents with fold-down sides and even heaters (which can come in handy if the fog rolls in and the temperature drops).  We like to arrange the tables into one long banquet table and cover it with blue and white tablecloths and white napkins.  One or two folding tables are set up for serving the food and another round table is perfect for a bar

As it is a "Lobsterfest", procurement of the "lobstahs and steamahs" is key.  We have been using Glidden's Island Seafood for years.  Glidden's is a family-owned market and has existed on the island for generations.   They will both cook and crack the lobsters to make it a little easier (and less messy) for the guests.  I usually order 2 - 21/2 pound lobsters to ensure that everyone has their fill.  The clams are delivered raw and we have a family member who likes to steam them right before we are ready to eat which is a real treat for everyone!

Gary holding a platter of freshly cooked lobsters.

Gary holding a platter of freshly cooked lobsters.

What would a Nantucket event be without some floral arrangements from Flowers on Chestnut?  We like to place burlap covered baskets filled with red, white and blue flowers- and, of course, a few American flags- down the center of the table.  For the bar/hors d'oeuvres table, Flowers on Chestnut fills and old wooden bucket that we purchased years ago with a colorful spray of blooms.  

To personalize the dining table we like to accessorize a bit.  Blue and red swirled enamelware bowls from Golden Rabbit are placed around for discarded lobster and clam shells; finger bowls filled with lemon water are set next to each dinner plate; small Nantucket baskets hold votive candles; and lobster bibs from G.S. Hill are folded and ornamented with place cards affixed with small clothespins.  The clothespins serve double duty as they are also used to hold the bib around the neck.

Once the lobsters and clams have been consumed, plates are whisked away and dessert is presented.  Blueberry and apply pies from Petticoat Row Bakery are sliced and supplemented with hearty scoops of vanilla ice cream.  As guests depart, each is presented with a large cellophane-wrapped cookie shaped like lighthouse, lobster or a whale as a remembrance of the evening.  More than one guest has told me that the cookies make a great breakfast the next morning. 

So on the eve of another Independence Day, remember that the best recipe for a festive 4th always includes fun, friends, and some good food.  Gary and I send our best wishes for a safe and happy holiday!

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