There are basically only two seasons in Louisiana—crawfish season, and the rest of the year. Tables piled high with seasoned crawdads, the first ears of sweet corn, and a few boiled potatoes are the surest signs that it’s time to break out the beer and toast to the arrival of warmer weather on the bayou.
Perhaps owing to the crawfish’s reputation for bottom feeding (or just because they’re so darn messy to eat!), backyard boils don’t demand much in the way of formality—part of what makes them so appealing. Friends, neighbors and even strangers passing by are all invited to pull up a lawn chair, grab a plate and canful of suds, and make a whole yard full of new friends by the end of the day.
Still, even the most laid-back parties can benefit from a few low-maintenance upgrades that will take the whole affair from a lazy Sunday get-together to a truly unforgettable Fête d’Été. These ideas will add stylish panache to your backyard boil, while still paying homage to the tradition’s mellow roots—because even a mudbug should get a touch of class every once in awhile.
Via Style Me Pretty
Install a wheelbarrow beer cart
Nothing makes crawfish taste better than washing them down with a cold one or two. Your standard cooler may be serviceable, but it definitely doesn’t have the visual appeal of a cart stocked full of ice and chilled bottles, basically begging you to crack one open and swill it down. As for the beer, any light IPA or American Lager pairs well, although make sure it comes in a clear bottle, not brown or green—some Cajuns have been known to hide crawfish remnants in dark-colored bottles as a prank.
Set out some vintage-style aluminum lawn chairs
Nothing makes you want to wax nostalgic like a good backyard boil—just the smell of Tony Chachere’s on a hot summer day can easily transport you back to a time when things seemed simpler and kinder. You may not be able to bring back the good old days, but you can recapture just the tiniest essence of your summer memories through these vintage revival aluminum lawn chairs. They’re right up there between watermelon and suntans in the hall of summer classics.
Create your own eye-catching mosquito repellant
It never fails—the minute you start to have fun, the mosquitoes come out in full force. Store-bought candles and sprays make pretty effective repellents, but that eau-de-bug-spray smell doesn’t exactly whet your appetite, and bug zappers can be a major eyesore. These DIY mason jar luminaries, on the other hand, are as attractive as they are easy to make, and they bring a spicy, herb-packed odor to your festivities.
String up solar-powered lights
The best summer parties are known to last long into the wee hours of the night, and when they do, it certainly helps to have a little mood lighting in your arsenal. Solar-powered LED string lights are a perfect alternative to traditional incandescents—they have all the ambiance of the real thing, but they don’t need to be plugged in, so you can save your outdoor outlets for the sound system.
Place decorative buckets on tables to collect tails and shells
Crawfish are an exceptionally messy crustacean, both in their lives in the bottom of the bayou and after being consumed—when they litter your backyard picnic table with cast-off shells and tails. Small galvanized tubs or colorful plastic buckets placed at regular intervals give partygoers a convenient place to pitch their shells—and cut you a break come cleanup time.
Via Deliciously Well
Roll damp hand towels with lemon for a refreshing wipe down
Speaking of messes, napkins are a precious commodity at any boil (there’s nothing that will darken your mood faster than smearing a handful of spices across a brand-new sundress). An old-fashioned roll of paper towels will do the job just fine, but for those looking for a slightly more elegant solution, a few damp towels rolled and packed with lemon wedges will get your hands cleaner and provide a few welcome whiffs of citrus in between bites.
Make your own DIY corn hole game
Hungry kids (and sometimes grownups, too!) need something to keep their minds occupied while they wait for the food to be ready. This adorable DIY corn hole game tutorial adds a colorful update to this backyard classic, which should distract you from your grumbling stomach—for a little while, at least!