ISSUE 83  |  Entertaining: Summer Edition

A Guide to Intimate Gatherings from the CAMP Workshops

July 29, 2013 5:00 PM

BY Erin Boyle

To kick off our Summer Entertaining week, it only seems right to seek advice from some of the best hosts we know. Ginny Branch and Amy Osaba are two of the co-founders of CAMP Workshops, a series of classes taking place this summer in Atlanta, Georgia.

CAMP–an acronym for Creating Art Meaning Purpose–was born from a desire to nurture the talents of designers, artists, photographers, stylists, creatives, and makers. As part of the series of workshops, Ginny Branch, a stylist, is teaming up with event-planning-powerhouse Amy Osaba to teach a course about hosting dinner parties. You can register for the class right here, but in case you can’t make it down to Georgia, I asked Ginny and Amy for their top five tips for creating the intimate gatherings we all crave. This is what they had to say.

Photographs by Ali Harper from the CAMP Summer Supper at Atlanta cafe Sun in my My Belly.

#1: Music

Before and during dinner, find a lovely iTunes radio station to play softly in the background, so that there’s music but it doesn’t overwhelm conversation. Bluesy French crooners or something soulful like Patsy Cline are nice options. After dessert, kick off your shoes, push the furniture to the sides of the room, and dig out some Sam Cooke or Stevie Wonder records. Dance ’til you’re good and sweaty.

#2: Lighting

Everyone feels more attractive surrounded by a warm glow (just ask Michelle). If dining al fresco, supplement candlelight by stringing bistro lights overhead. For indoor parties, dim the lights as much as possible and then go whole hog with candles. Ginny and Amy completely believe in the power of Edison bulbs; some of the most appealing restaurants, they point out, are the darkest and the moodiest.

#3: Food

Invest in quality ingredients from your local farmer’s market and you can easily create something charming and delicious that requires very little work.  Infusing water with a variety of fruits and herbs is a thoughtful detail that leaves a lasting impression. 

#4: Florals

Every gathering can be improved by incorporating a botanical element or two. Even something as simple as clipping leafy tree branches and vines from your backyard, or foraging for unruly wildflowers in an abandoned lot, can instantly liven up a space.

#5: Saying Farewell

End the night with a surprise. Buy a few pretty containers–such as kraft boxes from Paper Source–for guests to leave with a twine-wrapped treat (and a reminder of a great night). Above: Tiny packages containing ingredients for s’mores on-the-go.

For more highlights from CAMP’s Summer Supper, read on:

Above: Infused water with cucumber, watermelon, and lemon slices.
Above: Mason jars turned drink vessels.

Above: Pine branches are not for the holidays only. Ginny and Amy incorporated a few boughs into their summertime gathering.

Above: Hand-stamped takeaways and botanical details.

Above: No one ever said that goody bags have to stop at grade school.

Above: An assortment of Mason jars with the insides painted white lend a soft glow to the festivities.

 Interested in creating an intimate gathering where the guests do a little work? See: How to Crowd Source a Garden.