The Guest List
Only invite people who really get along…or, people who can agree to disagree. Nothing's worse than spoiled sports—people who don't know how to win or lose graciously. The Academy Awards® can be a real set up for conflict so be sure about inviting only the most well-mannered of your friends.
Black Tie Ambiance
I like the idea of Oscar® parties being really sophisticated. I can't think of anything more fun than "black tie." I know I look for reasons to get dressed up, because nowadays there's no reason to wear anything dressier than jeans and a t-shirt. Insist that your guests conform to a formal dress code—ladies in gowns and gentlemen in tuxedos. If the stars try that hard, it's only polite that you and your friends make the same effort. Also, dressy guests make for prettier pictures gathered around the TV set.
Hosting vs. Serving
Usually, I'm the one screaming about entertaining in as casual a style as possible, but for this one occasion I feel it should be more formal. Formal is more fun! But, make sure it's fun for you too. This is not the night to test your cooking skills or even your skills as a hostess. Hire a waiter and treat yourself like a guest at your own party. Have the dinner catered if you can afford it or cook things that are simple and can be done in advance so you won't have to think about it too much during the course of the evening.
For such a stressful night, drinks are in order. Create your own signature cocktail and prepare shakers of it in advance. I always think the only way to throw a great party is to plan to have a lot of fun yourself—that encourages your guests to do the same.
Stand a lot. It's not the night to sink into a comfortable old chair, it's a night to nibble nervously on fancy hors d'oeuvres and stand looking chic by the TV set as the envelope is opened and the winner is announced. Remember; composure at all costs!
Fun and Games
I love the idea of betting pools. In advance you need to alert your guests that a special Oscar® will be awarded at the end of the night, in your living room, to the person or people who guess the most winners correctly. Even better, it's a way to make a few bucks.
Another fun game is called "Diva or Damsel." You and your guests have secret ballots—everyone votes for their favorite dresses—and the votes are cast. The dress that has the most votes wins and whoever guesses that dress wins the pot.
Let's face it, glamorous and exciting as the Academy Awards® are, there are moments that lag a lot and we need activities to fill those moments. The other thing that's fun is something I call "Photo Op" where you or your friends are photographed with a star who is appearing on the television set. You can do it with a digital camera or, for instant gratification, take a Polaroid.
Here's your chance to treat your guests like stars. Prepare goody bags like the ones you get when you're leaving a gala and give them to your guests as they leave. They don't have to be expensive or elaborate as much as charming and sweet. You can include things like candies and magazines or even inexpensive beauty products or a home-mixed CD of your favorite music.
An Oscar® party is your chance to throw a glamorous event in your own home. If you do it with enough style and good humor, everyone is bound to have fun. Who knows, maybe it'll become a yearly event?