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Serving Oysters for a Large Party

I am hosting a party for 50 people plus the 2 guests of honor. The one request from them is to have oysters for everyone. I've served oysters at parties in the past, but only for 10 people or so. My issue, currently, is figuring out a creative way to display and serve such a large quantity of oysters (without taking up an entire table) and the best way to keep the ice as cold as possible so the oysters don't end up drowning in a puddle of melted ice.

I was thinking of stacking some stainless bowls or bins vertically, but I worry about the safety of stacking bowls that are filled with heavy ice. The unwanted and most expensive option would be to have a large stainless ice bucket lined edge to edge with oysters and have it replenished with new ice and new oysters whenever empty. This would require me to have someone there shucking oysters and replenishing throughout the entire party.

Any other ideas?

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  1. In either Julia Child & Company or JC & More Co she thoroughly (no surprise) describes her set-up for an oyster binge. As I recall, though, it's pretty similar to your unwanted option but it might provide some ideas.

      1. One restaurant i went to had the large shallow bowl filled with ice, then saran wrap over the ice, (!) and then a layer of seaweed that covered the saran wrap and created a nest for the oysters.
        But, yeah, you need a shucker. Not sure where you are located but look at taskrabbit.com, you can probably find someone for an hour or two (or keep them longer to help with cleanup too!)

        1. Yes, you need a shucker for that kind of party. It will be a disaster if you don't.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Karl S

            Ya you must have a shucker. And besides it looks 'Kool' to watch your oysters being shucked on the spot. Assuming this party is being paid for by someone the cost to have a shucker isn't going to break the bank.
            "Look at these oysters Betty. I just watched them being opened by a 'professional'. This dude really knows how to throw a great party".

            1. re: Karl S

              If you get a shucker, do you also need a jiver?

              1. re: Tripeler

                Likely to be lots of them to choose from at the party. LOL
                Especially after a few drinks.
                Matter of fact 'jiver' is the Romanian name for 'moon-shine'. LOL

            2. Was invited to an oyster roast at Berkley Plantation on the James River...25 years ago..whew...and they had 4 or 5 split barrel grills with the coals going. Some one dumped a bushel of oysters on the grates and waited till they start to open. Every one had a canvas work glove on and a old dinner knife, and as we moved down the grill, another bushel went on. A squeeze of lemon, dash of hot sauce, iced-down liquid refreshments...good conversation...

              2 Replies
              1. re: 3MTA3

                That's how do it down here in the lowcountry too.

                1. re: LaLa

                  +2. Way easier than shucking....

              2. I've worked a few parties with trays of shucked oysters on ice. We just kept moving & replenishing the empty trays I think we used mesh baskets, rather than trays, for the "back of house" storage of shucked oysters. Hasn't been a problem for guests, that the shucking occured a few hours in advance.

                1. Someone recently asked a similar question...I believe for keeping food cold for an outdoor wedding reception and someone posted a link to an inflatable ice tray holder. maybe someone with a better memory than mine can remember which thread it was or where the link can be found and post it.

                  I thought it was a good product for outdoor parties...attractive and functional.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: fourunder

                    Better than the wheelbarrow filled with ice the one time I saw unlimited oysters at a party. Or maybe not; it was pretty cool and I guess made the transporting a bit easier too!

                    1. re: coll

                      Wheelbarrow or Wheelbarrel?


                      My opinion....WBs, whichever way you spell it, are only for dirt or money to push around.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        I hope that you are complimenting me on my linguistic skills there? But either way, this was a brand new wheelbarrow, and this was probably 30 years ago, however it stuck in my mind out of the numerous parties I've attended since. It was brand new and destined to end up in the shed, but I thought it kind of smart, and showcased the abundance that was offered.

                        1. re: coll

                          I've always used wheelbarrel....so yes, I was complementing you...and I learned something. I had never seen it, nor learned it in grade school, so I Googled and was surprised by my poor education my parents had paid for not to have made it known before.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            Thanks, I was just kidding! I majored four years in linguistics first time around, which is sort of a narrow field, but I guess it wasn't a total waste. I did it more for fun, next time around it was business all the way!

                  2. Hire a shucker - wouldn't eat them if they were just sitting there.