One of my favorite things to do in the summer is head to the beach. I find nothing more relaxing than the sound of the seagulls as I smell the salty seaside air. Then after a tough day of relaxing in the sun, gazing at the horizon, and dipping my toes in the surf, it’s fun to turn my attention to the last of the five sense, the taste of the boardwalk.
Fried food never tastes as good as when your salty, sandy self leaves the beach, after your stress has been numbed into submission. As I look around the boards, I see everyone else looking equally relaxed, smiling as they enjoy their summertime-only treats and snacks.
Luckily there’s nothing so difficult about boardwalk food that you can’t recreate the experience in your own home with a boardwalk theme party. While you may not want to bring in seagulls to add to the ambience of your party (beware their food pilfering ways!), it’s easy to set the stage for this party and serve up the food that recalls the good feelings of a day spent at the beach.
Setting the Stage
The boardwalk always strikes me as part beach and part carnival, but above all, fun! Let these two ideas guide your decorating choices for your party. Either way, you really can’t make a mistake.
Decorate using red and white stripe table covers to evoke the big tent feeling of a carnival. If you can’t find that, use a white table cover and red napkins to create a similar effect.
Fill tall, clear vases with even taller pinwheels and place them down the center of your buffet table as a simple centerpiece idea.
Place small piles of clam shells collected on a day at the beach around your party tables. There’s no need for shiny polished shells purchased in a craft store, the real thing will do just fine.
Give each guest a cello bag filled with cotton candy and a colorful, giant, swirl lollipop to take home as a party favor.
Create a playlist of some of the all-time, top summer songs. It will help your guests recall some of their favorite summertime memories.
Italian Sausage and Peppers - Without a doubt, this is my husband’s favorite boardwalk treat. As soon as we leave the beach in search of food, his radar turns on and he makes a beeline for the sausage and peppers stand. The key to turning this recipe from good to fabulous is buying the best, fresh rolls you can find.
French Fries - Many places at the boardwalk serve the fries with the skin left on, saving you an extra step. Just be sure to clean the potatoes well if you choose to do this. And don’t forget to serve the fries in individual paper cups as you would find at the boardwalk. Offer ketchup, malt vinegar, and even melted cheese as toppings for the fries.
Corn Dogs - Hot dogs on a stick with a fried, corn batter coating? Of course! It’s all about feeling like a kid again and walking around while you eat, not sitting at a formal table.
Ice Cream - Make or purchase the basic flavors of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Serve it in cones, with or without sprinkles or hard shell coating!
Caramel Popcorn - Serve this fun, sticky treat in striped popcorn bags that can usually be found in party stores.
Taffy Candy - You can either purchase genuine salt water taffy or pull your own for a little old-fashioned fun before your party. Leave bowls filled with this treat all around your party.
Classic Lemonade - There’s nothing more refreshing after a hot day on the beach than a tall glass of lemonade with lots of ice. Have plenty on hand to serve this favorite beverage to old and young guests alike. And for an adult variation on this classic, mix up a pitcher of Sweet Ben’s Pink Lemonade - just keep this tempting pink drink out of reach from the kids at your party.