Hannah Drake

5 Things You Need for an Award-Winning Oscars Party

EntertainingHannah DrakeComment

Last week I mentioned that I love throwing theme parties, like an Oscars party. My mom and I hosted three Oscars parties, in 2013, 2014, and 2015, but I haven’t had one since. It doesn’t make sense while living in England since the show would start in the middle of the night, but it’s still fun to think about.

The 91st Academy Awards airs on Sunday, February 24, 2019. This year there are eight Best Picture nominees (Black Panther, BlackKklansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star is Born, Vice), with The Favourite and Roma tied for the most nominations at 10. After the Kevin Hart drama late last year, there is no host for the first time in 30 years after there was no host for the 61st Academy Awards in 1989. Last year, the Academy announced a new category, Best Popular Film, but it didn’t go over well, so they pulled the category and said they would take time to reassess the addition, continuing instead with the same 24 categories.

If you’re prepping for a party in a couple of weeks, here are five things to consider:

FESTIVE INVITATIONS

For the second year, I created an invitation to look like an event ticket. You can also find a lot of beautiful invitations on Etsy if you’re not up for creating your own. Sending invitations sets the tone for your glamorous evening and makes it feel more special than a Facebook invite or a group text would. I think I sent our’s via email though.

AN INSPIRED MENU

We got the idea for the party as a whole from a family friend who mentioned she had always wanted to do it with a menu made up of items inspired from the Best Picture nominees. With the expansion of the Best Picture category in 2009 from five nominees to ten nominees, and later to “three to ten” nominees in 2011, that meant for quite an expansive and eclectic menu! We tried to have somewhat of a balance in terms of having a main and a dessert, with some sides and snacks in between. Over the three years we did it, these were our menus:

It was always fun to come up with the menu item from movies, but sometimes it could get challenging. Like what do you eat for Gravity, which (IIRC) doesn’t include any notable food scenes. Sometimes it’s easy because food plays a prominent role in the film. Either way, you can count on none of the foods “going together”. Just don’t forget the bubbly!

If we were hosting a party this year, this is what our menu might look like:

It’s Hollywood’s biggest night, so you definitely don’t want to skimp on the decor. It’s all about glitz and glam!

Over the three years, we also stocked up on a number of decorations, including some fabric to act as our red carpet. I found a ton of pictures on my old blog, but you’ll have to excuse the quality of my photos from five years ago. Here’s what we did:

  • Festive garlands: I found an Academy Awards printable with the circle icons of a tux, red dress, camera, and Oscar statue and turned it into a garland. I also found a tassel garland on Etsy.

  • Photo booth props: In our third year, we got some photo booth props from Etsy that really could be used for anything. We were just missing a good photo booth backdrop!

  • Treats: I found Oscar statue chocolates on Etsy.

  • Awards: I found an Oscar statue on the Hollywood Mega Store.

  • Red Carpet: My mom picked up some red fabric at a fabric store and we simply pinned it to the carpet just inside the door. I think it snowed heavily all three years we did it (or at least the first two), so there was no way we would put anything outside.

  • Other decor: For the second year, we got a dozen gold balloons to hang over the food. I wrote up some Oscars fun facts to hang from each of the balloons. Even with helium, I ended up taping the balloons to the ceiling, so what’s the point in paying for the helium? One year, we also had an infographic with all the dresses worn by actresses the year they won Best Actress. That was pretty cool!

Etsy is hands down the best place to get all your decorations. You can find a lot of generic stuff at party or craft stores, but if you’re looking for specific things, look no further than Etsy. Just make sure to get on there soon so everything comes before the 24th!

FUN GAMES, CONTESTS, OR COMPETITIONS

Let’s be real here, the current format of the ceremony can d r a g. It’s hard to keep your attention for so long, especially if you’re only invested in a number of categories. To make it more fun, especially for people who are less enthusiastic to sit through the party, it’s great to fill the evening with different games or competitions. Even if you’re all super interested in the whole ceremony, you still have to pass the time during commercial breaks.

Every year we’ve done a ballot contest. You can find some really nice single-page ballot printables on Etsy to have for all the guests to fill out at the beginning of the evening. It’s fun just to guess who’s going to win, but even more fun if there’s a prize up for grabs for the most correct answers! The third year, we had a giant ballot up on the wall for someone to update as the awards went out, just in case people were out of the room when the winners were announced. We also did a $2 buy in for the ballot competition so the winner took home the pot. (The above is not for this year, but as the ceremony gets closer, a lot of publications will have printable ballots available free as well.)

We’ve done other games like acceptance speech mad libs and one here where we had an infographic with icons for the Best Picture winners dating back to the 1st ceremony. We had an alphabetical list of all the winners so guests could guess which was which during the commercial breaks.

It would also be fun to create a short trivia game (ask one or two questions per break) or a bingo game for acceptances speeches with squares like:

  • Thanks God

  • Gets political

  • Talks about representation

  • Forgets to thank someone, tacks them on to the end

  • Isn’t prepared/didn’t think they’d win

  • Talks about the other nominees

  • Mentions Meryl Streep (maybe not super likely this year since she isn’t nominated, surprisingly)

  • Trips on their way up (oh hey, JLaw)

  • Says hi to someone watching at home/tells their kids to go to bed

RED CARPET OUTFITS

If you really want to go big, you should have a cocktail or black tie party. Maybe have people walk the red carpet and ask them who they’re wearing. Maybe have all the guests vote for the Best Dressed and give a prize to the winner. One year my sister re-wore all of her high school dance and bridesmaid dresses. She might have had more wardrobe changes than Anne Hathaway did the year she hosted!

If dressing up isn’t your thing, but watching the Red Carpet coverage is, you could have each of the guests create their own Best and Worst Dressed lists. (That’s my Best Dressed List from three years ago.)

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