Design Q&A: Joshua E. White

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Get to know the CEO and Chief Curator of Port Town Collective behind the boutique event planning firm’s fine fêtes and florals

bearded man in a suit
Joshua E. White // Courtesy Port Town Collective


Joshua E. White knows his way around a Savannah soirée. A native Savannahian whose family ties to Georgia trace back several generations, White honed his skills for hosting, event styling and socializing through a career as a nonprofit fundraiser and many years of volunteerism. 

When the pandemic turned the world upside down, White returned to his hometown and now puts his penchant for fabulous parties to good use through Port Town Collective — a planning firm for intimate events and bespoke holiday styling with reach across the South. 

Here, White shares where he finds creative inspiration, his tried-and-true tips for entertaining and what’s in his cocktail glass. 


The holidays for Port Town Collective start in July with client proposals. Then, we have a month or two for sourcing and deliveries. By the time Oct. 1 comes, we are heads-down, drink your water, on-the-go protein shakes, don’t forget your sunscreen and layers, and keeping Corn Huskers Lotion in the work truck so the 7,000 garlands don’t grate our fingers to the bone. I love doing holiday installs, and the best compliment is a good review. Can’t ask for better in 2023. Our word is our bond.


Not to be totally cliché, but we make the best Chatham Artillery Punch there ever was. We use the Herb Traub recipe from the old Pirates’ House cookbook. We make it as directed in July, then put it in airtight jugs in a cool, dry place until December. Pour in a case of good Champs — not the cheap stuff — and serve over a solid mass of ice, never crushed. My grandmother says, “If you make it right, you shouldn’t be able to feel your lips after the second one.” We really stand by that.

Elaborately decorated dining room in an historical home
Courtesy Esther Griffin Photography


Watch your favorite films, and look at the style of the set. Our work at Port Town Collective is inspired by and described through the lens of one film or another. We used the movie “Clue” as inspiration for a raucous birthday mystery dinner. We had the Japanese menu items listed on a bill of fare that looked like the movie poster and a seated table with drippy, waxed candelabras where the “murder weapons” were found amongst the faded florals and cobwebs.

“Make sure that you are having a good time. If you are having fun, so will your guests.”

Joshua E. White
Fox statue next to a silver vase full of red flowers
Courtesy Joshua E. White


I like to listen to — and half-watch — the old Christmas specials from the ’70s, and Cher’s 1975 Christmas special is my favorite. I love the Carpenters’ specials and the [1977] Johnny Cash one with
a tone-on-tone green set and giant metallic gold wreath decorated with a huge green velvet bow. I also like “The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show” and “Once Upon a Christmas” with Kenny [Rogers] and Dolly [Parton]. If it sounds like Judy Garland is on the verge of tears, it’s for me!


I use camellia greens a lot. I hate buying greens at the florist because I like for our work to look like our regional environment. I use moss a lot, too, because I want a little patina on almost everything I do. We often incorporate fruits and veggies into our work — carrots at Easter and pomegranates at Christmas. You will never see alstroemeria [in an arrangement], God as my witness! I will never be that desperate.

Charcuterie boards and appetizers arranged on a dining table with floral centerpiece
Courtesy Esther Griffin Photography


I’m a more-is-more kind of guy, but it better look elegant and expensive even if it’s not. I have done plenty in a pinch with dollar-store stuff. I do like a little grit to things as well. I’ve always been fascinated with the Miss Havisham aesthetic. As my grandmother often says, “The money in our family ran out generations ago, and all we are left with are these damn gorgeous things!” I love tarnished silver overrun with vines and drippy wax at events. It’s not for every day, but it’s fun in [a party] setting.


First, invest in scent. Then [think about] lighting. [Keep bulb wattage] low, nothing LED “cool white” or “daylight.” We don’t invest this much in our Botox to also deal with overhead lighting unless it’s incandescent and dimmable. [Lastly,] make sure that you are having a good time. If you are having fun, so will your guests. Also, if you are painfully boring, please let me know ahead of arrival.

Holiday/Winter HOMES 2023 cover

This story and much more in the Holiday/Winter issue of Savannah HOMES magazine. Get your copy today!

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