Who says that only George Clooney and Julia Roberts should celebrate the Academy Awards when the 78th annual Oscars are presented in Hollywood on Sunday, March 5th? Throw your own Academy Awards party and invite the Hollywood stars of your life, like friends and family, complete with red carpet, champagne toasts (or at least, beer or punch served in champagne flutes), and beefy little statues.
As a real cinemaphile, I staged my own five-star Oscar party every year, held on the night the awards are given out and it became such a gala event that people could not wait for their invitations. The secret wasn’t in how much money I spent – in truth, you can stage quite a black-tie affair even without spending lots of cash, something no Hollywood star would know how to do – but in how much imagination I and my friends packed into it.
You can do the same thing to really dress up a night when you’re probably going to be watching the awards on TV anyway. If a Sunday night party makes you cringe, hold the gala the night before and have your own awards ceremony rolled into the festivities.
First, think invitations. In Hollywood, members of the Academy get ballots to vote for the people who will receive Oscars. I not only sent film-inspired invites – and you shouldn’t forget to add some gold and silver confetti to the envelopes – but also included ballots so partygoers could cast their votes for winners in all the usual categories. Plus I would toss in some zany categories as well, like “Actor Most Likely to Go Bald” and “Actress Most Likely to Accidently Deflate Her Hollywood Boob Job” which friends always love. They can return their votes with their invitations.
Also, encourage people to dress up like their favorite film characters. Even little kids love to get into the act – one year, all the little ones came as Groucho Marx, another year they were Star Wars characters – and the adults have a blast with this, too. Be ready to help with costume ideas or potential characters and encourage folks to recycle old Halloween outfits or borrow from others. The point after all is not to spend lots of money but to have a blast regardless of the partygoers’ ages.
For party night itself, it’s time to hit the craft stores, talk to creative friends, and get some of your party guests involved in the planning to make the night seem as fun as possible. For my parties, I always came up with special awards so that everyone attending walked away with an “Oscar” statue – and some friends still have these a dozen or more years later. The statues were male dolls purchased very cheaply at a crafts store and then spray painted gold. These I glued onto a base which I labeled for the award, like “Best Supporting Actor in Finishing Off the Appetizers” and “Best Female Lead in a Fight for the Last Slice of Cake”.
Lots of cardboard was painted crimson to “roll out” as the red carpet, running from the sidewalk into my living room and right up to the buffet table – more about that in a minute. I would also take pictures of celebrities to the print shop and have them blown up much larger, then I would paste the copies onto cardboard cutouts so it looked like Woody Allen, Mae West, Clark Gable, and WC Fields were partying with us. A few of these I would drape in cheap feather boas or other silly things to make them more festive. I would also cut out stars in all sizes and paint them as well as apply glitter; these I would hang from the ceiling, set out on the buffet table, and tape to the windows.
The snack table – aka Buffet – can be as much fun as you want. One friend somehow crafted deviled eggs to look like Groucho Marx one year with some artful arrangement of black olives, capers, and other oddities while another friend made mint cookies that looked just like old-time film reels. And whatever else you serve, plan to have popcorn – lots and lots of popcorn, preferably served in movie theater type containers.
Leading up to the award show and during commercials, get your partygoers together to recite famous movie lines which everyone must guess. If that’s not your style, think of some other type of film-and-Hollywood related game you can play.
Whatever you do and no matter how many people attend, one thing is guaranteed: you’re going to have a much better time watching the Oscars get presented than you would alone with a box of Milk Duds. Start planning now and then have a great awards ceremony right in your living room.