***This post was originally published in February 2014, and being that it’s (by far) my most popular post (who would’ve thought?!), I wanted to share it with you again, this time with a few updates. Happy Oscar-party-planning!***
My friend Shannon and I used to throw the best Oscar parties…well, at least we thought they were. This was way back in the day, long before Oscar parties were trendy, and long before the Internet was flooded with creative ideas right at our fingertips. We were inspired simply by our love for movies: I was a Film Studies graduate and Shannon was a die-hard who worked in the industry, so we were the ultimate movie fans. The idea to throw our first Oscar party happened the year that Shakespeare in Love was nominated. We were slightly obsessed with the film (but only slightly), and we wanted to gather our fellow movie-loving friends together to celebrate what we thought would be a great awards show.
As we would come to realize, the party really wasn’t about watching the awards show at all. Of course, we still watched, but the party turned out to be more about all the bells and whistles we created for our guests, including games, themed foods, decorations and an Oscar pool (which offered the most coveted prize of the evening, as I’ll explain shortly). Since, as I mentioned, the Internet wasn’t as developed as it is today (okay, I just really dated myself), all of these ideas came straight out of our heads, and of course, out of our love for movies.
Fun Ideas for Any Oscar Party
Here are some of the things that became our traditions, and they are perhaps some fun ways to jazz up your own Oscar party today:
Games and Prizes
Games and prizes help make the evening more interesting and keep everyone engaged even when the broadcast gets a little slow (c’mon, you know what I’m talking about). We created two games that became tradition every year. One was a simple movie trivia game; during each commercial break, we’d call out movie trivia questions and the first guest to shout out the correct answer got a point. The guests with the most points at the end of the night won prizes. Yes, it was a little chaotic and slightly unorganized, but our friends really got into it and we laughed a whole lot. The other game was called “Mystery Movie”…we secretly chose one movie and created a board with about 20 hidden clues written on index cards. During each commercial break, we’d reveal one of the clues and post it on the board. The first guest to put all the clues together and correctly call out our mystery film won the prize. The clues started out incredibly vague (e.g.. “This film stars an actor who eventually went on to win an Oscar”) and grew more specific as the game progressed (e.g.. “This film was directed by Steven Spielberg”). You can be as creative as you’d like with the questions and you can choose a film from any time in cinematic history (just be sure to choose one that most people would know). The prizes? Movies on DVD! (Or wait, was it VHS tapes back then? Either way, I’m dating myself again…). For our prizes, we chose different genres to keep it varied; but truthfully, it really didn’t matter which movies we chose to give out, because I find that most people are just excited to win something (at least I know I am).
Create a dish based on each of the Best Picture nominees. For us, this meant everything from Shakespeare in Love’s Romantic Picnic (a cheese, cracker and wine display) to Life is Beautiful’s Mostaccioli. We would label each dish with a cute little sign so guests would understand each theme. Now, this was back during the time when there were only five Best Picture nominees (ugh, I did it again…I really need to stop sharing these date references…), so it was easier to pay tribute to each nominee. But feel free to choose whichever or however many movies you’d like…there’s no rule other than to be creative and make it fun.
Ask your guests to fill out a ballot and also pitch in a little cash prior to the beginning of the show. This was probably the most popular activity of the night. Sure, everybody does the ballot thing, but we made it a little more interesting. With each ballot, a guest would submit $5 to the pool. The guest(s) at the end of the party who got the most award predictions correct won the pool of money. The pool total ran something like $75 and up (sometimes well over $100 depending on how many people played)…not a bad party prize! And it’s easy to set up: just set out a stack of blank ballots, some pens or pencils, a box for the ballots and another box (or other container) to hold the cash: a little bit of effort for a lot of fun. You can print out Oscar ballots here (just click on the link for “printable list”).
Yes, you can literally roll out the red carpet for your guests! We purchased a large red plastic runner that we simply rolled out from the driveway to the front door. It’s a special touch that guests experience before even entering the party and it sets the tone for the evening. Want to get even further into the theme? Take pictures of your guests as they walk the red carpet. It’s a fun homage to the tradition and makes a nice photo memory you can email to your guests afterwards.
Popcorn Snack Treats
Give your guests a fun movie-themed snack that they can munch on while watching the show. Just pour your popcorn of choice into a themed bag (like the gold star bag pictured above) or a replica popcorn bucket like this one. For a more elegant touch, use a martini glass! Looking for a healthy popcorn to serve? Pipcorn is made from non-GMO corn and popped in olive oil (most commercial popcorn brands use highly refined, unhealthy polyunsaturated “vegetable” oils, so this is huge!)…plus, it’s made from uniquely delicate kernels, meaning it’s far easier to digest (compared to traditional popcorn) and less likely to get stuck in your teeth (ummm, can we say ‘perfect party food’?). Looking for an alternative to popcorn for your Paleo friends? Check out this Paleo “popcorn” here.
Speaking of treats, how cute are these Oscar Party Banana Bread Muffins?
I know there are plenty of other fun ideas that people have come up with over the years, but we were quite proud of our little homespun creations. And for us, planning the parties was just as much fun as attending them. Are you throwing an Oscar party this year? What ideas are you incorporating?