For Michael Clinton, separating work and pleasure is easy. At a recent party at his Water Mill home, he celebrated the place where he relaxes best, with the publication of his eighth book, The Hamptons.
Michael Clinton has a busy job. A really busy job. As President, Marketing and Publishing Director, for Hearst magazines, the company that publishes Elle, Seventeen, and Esquire, among many other titles, his days are filled to the brim. On the weekends though, he switches it all off and heads to the Hamptons, where he can get much-needed downtime.
As if his day job isn’t enough, Michael has also published eight books, his most recent, The Hamptons, out this month. He’s written many books on his travels and has owned a home in Water Mill for years, so a book on his beloved weekend retreat was long overdue.
When Kim met Michael a few years back, they had an instant connection. She found him to be a real-life Renaissance man: the fact that he publishes books, runs marathons, co-owns a winery where he makes his own wine, is an accomplished photographer, and loves to dance any chance he gets, made her his biggest fan. Michael is also a world traveler, one of Kim’s huge passions.
Michael asked Kim and their friend Leslie Stevens to help plan the party for the publication of his new book. They agreed, of course, and when they sat down to map out the tables, Michael said he wanted lots of blue with a more masculine slant and a strong Hamptons vibe throughout; he even asked in his invitation that each guest wear a “touch of blue” in their outfits.
First and most importantly was the table itself: Kim chose one that was 36 inches wide, thinking the narrow width would enhance conversation between the 22 invited guests. Kim’s placemats are 15 inches wide, so the two facing each other meant just 6 inches was left on the table—a very intimate setting. The table functioned perfectly in the backyard framed by the pool and the cornfield to the rear.
On top of a foundation of white tablecloths, Kim recommended double runners in navy with a nautical knot pattern topped by bamboo placemats in a crisp white. It was something Michael loved the minute he saw it. The two then made a trip to Party Rental for dishes and glasses. With their color scheme in mind, Kim suggested choosing blue glasses over clear; if you’re renting partyware, why not pick something colorful? They opted for salad and dinner plates rimmed in shades of blue.
Mixing it with an ethnic print napkin took away the matchy-matchy factor. When it came to the flatware, they decided on something a little more modern and masculine. A beaded burst napkin ring in shades of blue provided the right visual pop.
Leslie made the trip to the local farm stand for bright zinnias to place on the tables in shades of pink, orange, and red. It’s another effortless choice, and a departure from the usual mixed bouquet from a florist.
Since the wind was scheduled to kick up that night, the votives placed on the table were LEDs instead of real candles.
A custom menu was created with fresh food and decadent flavors by renowned chef Todd Jacobs.
The wine poured that evening was also one-of-a-kind—Michael’s own: JMJ Vines is the company he formed with a group of three friends through a winery in the Mendoza region of Argentina, the name derived from the group’s initials. This year will mark their fifth vintage.
Being inventive and thinking outside the box is what made Kim’s tables stand out—and what made the party a success. Having Kim and Leslie take charge also took the pressure off Michael entirely. He was able to kick back, flip through the pages of his book, and raise a glass to a job well done.
TIPS TO MAKE YOUR PARTY A SUCCESS
For place settings infused with navy and a nautical twist:
- White Bamboo Placemats: Placemats like these work with almost anything. Their crisp white color and whimsical round shape means they can be dressed up or down and transition from one season to the next.
- White/Blue Congo Napkin: A beautiful napkin like this offers up a tie-dyed affect that instantly draws attention. Surprisingly, it matches with so many other colors.
- Jelly Bead Napkin Rings in Shades of Navy and Blue: A more fun napkin ring would be hard to find, and the mix of colors means it matches a variety of place settings.
- Cobalt Blue Glasses: The rich color adds infinitely more depth to the table than clear glasses do.
- Silver Flatware with Subtle Aspects: If a mix of patterns in the dishes and linens is used, choosing flatware with a small amount of detail to offset it works better than plain.
- China with a Little Color: When renting plates, pick the perfect match for your place setting. Since you’re not using your own, take advantage of the stock they have. It will bring every element on your table alive.
- Double Navy Runner: Using a double runner is more inventive than a tablecloth. Lay a patterned or colorful one over a regular white tablecloth or just over the table itself. If it doesn’t cover it entirely, that’s OK! It will enhance the table just the same.
Party planning is easy. Just use your imagination!
- Using a long, narrow table always makes conversation more intimate.
- Experiment with different colors. Who says tablecloths and napkins have to be white and glasses have to be clear?
- As an added twist, use two different color chairs and two different color cushions. It’s a simple idea that adds a dose of visual pleasure.
- Visit the local farm stand to find the freshest flowers. Later in the summer, fewer varieties are available, so learn to adapt: There’s a world of blooms out there. Just seeing buckets of snapdragons, larkspur, or foxglove expands your centerpiece possibilities.
- If you don’t make your own wine, buy the best you can afford to top off the meal.
- Battery-operated votives work better in case the wind kicks in that night.
Purchase Michael’s new book, here