The allure of hibernation is strong this time of year. Try to resist. Instead, warm up your home with a glamorous party.
The 86th Academy Awards are Sunday, and whether you’re in the mood for something low-key or flashy, the Oscars make a great excuse to invite some friends over. Here are some ideas to help you host an award-worthy evening.
Set the mood
It’s too late to mail paper invitations, but you can set the tone with an electronic invitation that’s a cut above the usual email or Facebook event notification. Paperless Post has a line of glittery awards show invitations that look like paper invitations, complete with virtual envelopes. Evite also offers digital invitations that fit the Hollywood theme.
The Oscars are as much about fashion as they are about film. Make your party a black-tie affair. Depending on your group of friends that could mean a chance to show off a new ensemble, or just an excuse to wear an old bridesmaid’s dress again. For something slightly less formal, ask guests to dress in gold like Oscar. If you’re going for more of a girls’ night in atmosphere, make it a pajama party.
The red carpet
No Academy Awards party would be complete without a red carpet. Buy a few yards of red fabric to lay on the ground starting at the front door, or simply cut a red plastic tablecloth into a runner. Hand your guests a glass of champagne when they walk in the door, and enlist friends (or yourself) to be the paparazzi. Record cheeky red carpet interviews on your smartphone — “Who are you wearing?” “Who’s your date?” — and put together a video to share with guests after the party.
Any combination of red, gold, black or white makes an Oscar-worthy color scheme. Greet guests before they even enter the party with a gold wreath and a chalkboard decorated to look like a clapperboard on the front door. Make garland by taping circles of colored paper to a string (use a die-cutter to save time cutting the shapes). Cut out large gold stars and silhouettes of the Oscar statuette to hang on the walls, and sprinkle gold star confetti on the tables. Helium balloons add a quick and simple statement to any room.
Customize the menu to play off the nominated films. Include dishes to represent each of this year’s nine best picture nominees: homemade moon pies for “Gravity,” cloud bread for “Her,” runzas for “Nebraska,” Texas-style beef brisket lettuce wraps for “Dallas Buyers Club.” See the recipes below for a full menu of movie references.
Be sure to label the foods — print out recipe titles, glue them to gold backgrounds and stand them up with glittery clothespins (available at craft stores). Set out bowls of movie popcorn for additional snacking.
Along with champagne on the red carpet, choose signature cocktails that give a nod to nominated films, like the Stinger for “American Hustle” and the Green Beast for “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Make movie-themed charms for stemware by printing actors’ names or pictures and attaching to strings or round wire earrings (found in the jewelry section of craft stores).
Strike a pose
The whole point of the red carpet is to be seen and photographed, so give your guests a chance to ham it up. Set up a photo booth with props. Hang a white sheet with 3M Command hooks or tape a plastic tablecloth to the wall as backdrop.
Set out hats, sunglasses, a feather boa and, most important, an Oscar statuette for guests to pose with.
You can buy plastic awards statues online, or make one by spray-painting a male doll gold or creating a 3-D statue out of paper using this template.
Leave your camera out for guests to take each other’s photos, then share all the pictures online after the party.
Print out ballots for guests to pick who will win each of the major awards. Be sure to have gold pencils out. Give a prize to the person who correctly predicts the most winners.
Somewhere between the acceptance speeches for best film editing and best sound mixing, you’ll be ready for some off-screen entertainment. Hang up descriptions of Oscar-winning films from over the years and have guests try to identify each film. Or print out movie posters with the film titles covered up, or memorable fashion moments with the stars’ faces covered, for more visual guessing games.
Hand out Academy Awards bingo cards (punchbowl.com has a free printable set customized for this year’s awards) for guests to mark off events like “Host Ellen DeGeneres dances” and “5+ people go on stage to accept a single award” as they happen.
Your own awards
Open a golden envelope and present an Oscar (or an award named after the host or hostess) to your guests for awards such as best dressed male and female, best Oscar predictor and best movie buff. If you know your guests well, give each person at the party a personalized award based on a skill, quirk or inside joke. Awards like “best Matthew McConaughey impersonation” or “best nickname” make everyone a winner.
Prizes and favors
Movie theater gift cards make perfect game prizes. Edible party favors are always appreciated, so send guests home with a box of classic movie candy like Raisinets or Sno-Caps wrapped in a gold ribbon. Or wrap up packages of star- or Oscar-shaped cookies or gourmet popcorn.