Hosting Ideas

Inside a Hamptons Stylesetter’s Gorgeous Fall Dinner Party

Inside a Hamptons Stylesetter’s Gorgeous Fall Dinner Party
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Between a flourishing winery, an accessories boutique, and a newly opened Sag Harbor storefront (not to mention a growing family—she and her husband welcomed a baby girl this summer), Joey Wölffer has a lot on her plate. Of course, she’s not letting that cramp her entertaining style. On the contrary, this chic multitasker is full of tips for no-fuss entertaining.

We joined Joey at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, NY, for a laid-back alfresco dinner party, decked out with the enviable bohemian-chic style for which The Styleliner, Joey’s fashion boutique on wheels, is known. Between delicious nibbles and sips of straight-from-the-source wine, we grilled Joey to see how she fits entertaining into her busy life—and manages to pull it all off with style.

With tables set up on the terrace, guests enjoyed shade from the wooden pergola while taking in spectacular views of the acres of vines.

With tables set up on the terrace, guests enjoyed shade from the wooden pergola while taking in spectacular views of the acres of vines.

Tied with a length of twine, the linen table runner has an air of rustic elegance and easy charm.

Tied with a length of twine, the linen table runner has an air of rustic elegance and easy charm.

Set a Layered Table

Joey’s approach to setting the table is an extension of The Styleliner’s signature aesthetic—relaxed yet chic, with an intriguing mix of elements. “Colors, patterns, and textures are such a simple way to create an exciting table,” she says. Brightly patterned plates were layered atop woven place mats, while linens in vivid yellow and rich blue warmed up the wooden table. “Each detail here is unique, from the napkin rings to the table runner, yet it all meshes well together—something I also take pride in when pairing an array of vintage accessories with an outfit.”

A balance of warm and cool hues enlivens the table, which is grounded in earthy materials such as wood and natural fibers.

A balance of warm and cool hues enlivens the table, which is grounded in earthy materials such as wood and natural fibers.

Colors, patterns, and textures are such a simple way to create an exciting table.

— Joey Wölffer
Joey puts the finishing touches on a casual-chic candle arrangement using Wölffer Estate wine bottles.

Joey puts the finishing touches on a casual-chic candle arrangement using Wölffer Estate wine bottles.

Do It Your Way

Not the formal dinner-party type? Don’t sweat it, says Joey, who embraces her penchant for laid-back get-togethers: “I always think it’s important that your natural personality comes out in the decor and flow of the party. For me, nothing is overdesigned or stuffy.”

Rather than making sure every detail is picture-perfect, Joey focuses on creating an inviting overall atmosphere so that guests feel at ease. For this dinner party, a canopy of casually draped string lights set a festive mood, and guests were greeted with wine and rustic hors d’oeuvres set out on simple wooden boards and marble platters.

A cake stand, a vase of flowers, and a few bunches of grapes are all you need to recreate this abundant arrangement.

A cake stand, a vase of flowers, and a few bunches of grapes are all you need to recreate this abundant arrangement.

A tiered stand piled high with seasonal fruit pulls double-duty as decor and serving piece.

A tiered stand piled high with seasonal fruit pulls double-duty as decor and serving piece.

Take Cues from the Locale

“The natural beauty of the Hamptons makes it a wonderful place to entertain,” says Joey, who takes cues from the Wölffer winery (founded by her father and now co-owned by Joey and her brother) when it comes to table decorations. Running with the harvest theme, centerpieces incorporated an autumnal bounty: Grapes were nestled around colorful flower arrangements, and pears and figs were stacked on a tiered wooden stand. It’s a simple yet abundant look—and one that’s easy to recreate with any seasonal produce.

DIY cork place cards add a personal touch to each place setting.

DIY cork place cards add a personal touch to each place setting.

Even for a low-key get-together, candlelight helps create a celebratory atmosphere.

Even for a low-key get-together, candlelight helps create a celebratory atmosphere.

Riff on Classic Touches

While candlelight and place cards might seem to signal formality, here they were given a playful, laid-back twist that was spot-on for the setting. Empty wine bottles made chic and unexpected holders for taper candles (vintage bottles work just as beautifully), while the corks were used as simple place cards.

A marble-and-wood cake stand makes a simple yet lovely presentation for fresh bruschetta.

A marble-and-wood cake stand makes a simple yet lovely presentation for fresh bruschetta.

Get Guests Involved

There’s no need to sequester yourself in the kitchen while putting the finishing touches on dinner, Joey says. When she gathers a group, “everyone hangs out in the kitchen while I finish cooking, and people jump in to help.” That way, “everyone eases into the night without any formal structure to the evening. By the time dinner rolls around, everyone is a little more at ease, and dinner lasts for a long time with lots of laughter.”

Two farm tables pushed together created one long communal gathering spot—and ensured that everyone got in on the conversation.

Two farm tables pushed together created one long communal gathering spot—and ensured that everyone got in on the conversation.

Invite a Good Group

“I love introducing new and old friends,” says Joey of her ideal guest list. “As an entrepreneur, I also like introducing friends who do similar things and have an entrepreneurial spirit. I love when my friends end up working together or helping each other!”

In fact, a carefully crafted guest list is one of Joey’s secrets of entertaining success. “The key is to entertain people who can simultaneously entertain you,” Joey says. “When I’m surrounded by good company, the rest of my schedule can be put on hold for at least an hour or so! No one expects anything fancy out of me—just good food, delicious wine, and fantastic company, which makes entertaining worth all the effort!”

When creating a menu, Joey aims for a balance of savory and sweet: “Fresh fruits, in-season vegetables, and a light fish are some of my favorites. But anything that pairs well with wine is fine by me!”

When creating a menu, Joey aims for a balance of savory and sweet: “Fresh fruits, in-season vegetables, and a light fish are some of my favorites. But anything that pairs well with wine is fine by me!”

In the glow of candlelight, guests lingered on the terrace long into the evening.

In the glow of candlelight, guests lingered on the terrace long into the evening.

When I’m surrounded by good company, the rest of my schedule can be put on hold for at least an hour or so!

— Joey Wölffer

Related: How an L.A. It Girl Fetes the Season—West Coast Style →

Join the Discussion

Join the Discussion

3 Responses to “Inside a Hamptons Stylesetter’s Gorgeous Fall Dinner Party”

  1. Nancy Whitehead says:

    Looks like they are all having a lot of fun in a casual and relaxed outdoor setting. Overlooking that vineyard is divine.Love to be a guest at that party although I am much older then them I can see their creative juices are flowing and they are really enjoying themselves at ease…This is a lovely evening among good, food, wine, and friends in a luscious California setting.Thanks for posting this one.

  2. Dusty Ling says:

    Lovely table but I do not like it when hosts ask their guests to help them cook, assemble, etc. I like to relax at a person’s home and when I am a host I like my guests to sit back, relax and enjoy.

  3. Lisa Toth Salzman says:

    Agree! But this is in New York not California …

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