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July 4th Outdoor Decorations Ideas from the Family Behind Bluffton Oyster Company

  • All-Star Summer

    For Tina and Larry Toomer (center), owners of Bluffton Oyster Company in South Carolina, cooking up an alfresco seafood feast couldn't be easier. After all, fishing boats routinely unload a briny bounty of fresh shrimp and shellfish at nearby docks on the May River—and when weekends roll around there's often a party. "It's a big family affair," says Tina. "We can't do an oyster roast or barbecue without everyone's friends stopping over." A picnic on a sandbar is one option. If it's the Fourth of July, another choice is a big table on the lawn set with red, white and blue linens and a flag-inspired theme.

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  • Set the Table

    On the table, sparklers tied with twine add a patriotic touch to each place setting.

  • Spice Is Right

    Oyster shells hold salt and pepper.

  • Vintage Blooms

    Vintage oyster tins filled with colorful blooms lend local flavor to the decor.

  • Sweet Tweets

    A baking pan filled with ice cubes keeps watermelon wedges on pop sticks cold. Printed paper cups give seasonal berries Americana flair.

  • Take a Seat

    Grandnephews Luke and Camden kick back on the makeshift lounger, an old rowboat piled high with cushions.

  • Long History

    Bluffton Oyster Company, founded in 1899, is the last hand-shucking house in the state. The processing plant sits on reclaimed land built up by decades of discarded shells, and even today family members still pitch in to help on both land and water. Larry's nephew Skippy owns and operates a shrimp boat. And Tina and Larry's daughter Jessica manages the Bluffton Oyster Company Family Seafood House, a low-key spot featuring oysters, steamed clams, she-crab soup and grilled shrimp among the fresh-caught offerings on the menu.

    Originally published in the July 2014 issue of Family Circle magazine.