How to throw an easy, elegant, and kick-ass oscar party in five simple steps.
1. Get the party started!
First, make sure to invite people that are compatible. This may seem like a no-brainer, but seriously, no Debbie Downers or Party Poopers allowed.
Second, have enough seats for your guests. Count all the couch space you have and add any chairs or cushions needed. If you're short on seating, big fluffy pillows placed strategically around the room should do the job just fine.
Third, if you're hosting an Oscar party, it's assumed that your television is large enough for a small crowd to comfortably sit and watch. If you're still rocking a 10 incher from your college dorm days, you should probably NOT be the host of an Oscar party.
And finally, dress up! As my fashion guru Isaac Mizrahi says, "If the stars try that hard, it's only polite that you and your friends make the same effort". In this day and age there's not many opportunities to get dolled up, so by all means make this Oscar party an event to remember and encourage your guests to dress to the nines! Black-tie is totally appropriate, but if you think your guests wouldn't be too interested in donning tuxedos and gowns, then state that cocktail attire is o-k, too.
2. Have FUN.
I am a firm believer in Oscar pools. To make it easier for your guests, print out a list of all the nominees. I've made it simple for you, just go here and you'll find everything you need in easy to print format! Make sure everyone makes a vote for each category. Sure, they might not know anything about "live action shorts", but have them make a wild guess for the category Best Live Action Short! Who knows, they could end up being right.
Have some sort of reward for the person who got the most and the person who got the least amount of awards correct. Present the "Biggest Winner" and "Biggest Loser" with an Oscar gift basket. A cute (and relatively cheap!) idea is to buy one of those large popcorn tubs and fill it with candy and a movie. For the winner, provide a copy of one of the "Best Picture" nominees. For the loser, choose a total razz-worthy film, like Waterworld or Dude Where's My Car?.
Another fun party activity is to vote for best dressed male and female. Give each winner a fake Oscar (you can purchase them at an party supply store during this time of year) and encourage them to give an acceptance speech!
Provide plenty of appetizers and sweets for your guests. Suggestions for appetizers include spinach dip and sourdough bread, chili in bread bowls, nachos, vegetables and dip. For dessert, my signature Oscar frou frou cupcakes are an absolute MUST for any elegant celebration, they just scream glamor. They are also very, very tasty. Champagne jelly is another fun and festive idea, you can find the recipe here.
Popcorn is, duh, a total necessity for an Oscar party, but forget microwave popcorn, it's all about the real deal. Trust me, after you make popcorn once this way, you will never ever buy microwave popcorn again.
Perfect Popcorn Recipe
3 Tbsp canola, peanut or grapeseed oil (high smoke point oil)
1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels
Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil and a few pinches of salt in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.
2. Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.
3. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
4. Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.
5. Top with anything you like! Salt and butter are pretty standard, but you can get creative and make kettle corn, add some cinnamon, maybe a pinch of nutmeg, the possibilities are endless! One great topping is rosemary and cayenne pepper. Seriously, so good.For Spicy Rosemary Cayenne Popcorn you will need:
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced rosemary (I used dried rosemary - 1 tbsp)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more, to taste) (I added at least one teaspoon!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups popped popcorn
In the bottom of a large bowl, mix the butter, rosemary, parmesan, brown sugar, cayenne and salt. Pour the popcorn into the large bowl. Stir the popcorn to evenly coat the kernels with the seasoning.
4. Sip and judge.
Make sure you provide plenty of drink choices for your guests, there's nothing better than a good sipping and judging session with a delicious cocktail in your hand.
Come up with a signature drink for your party and make a large batch of it in advance and put it in a large punch bowl for guests to serve themselves throughout the night. It can be ANY drink you like, but give it a fun Oscar-inspired name. Have a thing for mojitos? (I mean, who doesn't?) Make a big batch and put a cute label near the bowl "Slumdog Millionaire Mojito". Just add an actor's name or the title of a film to any drink and you're golden.
Make sure to have nonalcoholic beverages on hand for those that don't like to drink. Staples include diet soda, fruit juice, and water. You can have fun with this and make a nonalcoholic punch, too.
5. Au revoir.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, but eventually, your guests need to leave, if only to give you an opportunity to clean up after your successful Academy Award bash. This is your chance to give your guests a little star treatment with goody bags similar to those the stars will all be receiving! Okay, maybe not similar (I don't know if any of my blog readers have enough disposable income to buy 20 iPods and sets of Le Mer face cream), but definitely super thoughtful and sweet. Some ideas include a small bag of your home-made popcorn (prepared in advance), lots of movie theater candy, and a custom-made mix CD of all the songs from the films that received nominations. Put it in a cute bag, tie a bit of pink ribbon on it, and voila, perfect ending to a perfect party.