How to Host a Fab Oscar Party

Take the Oscars telecast, add 10 to 20 of your closest friends, throw in some award-worthy food and swagalicious gifts and you get one fabulous Sunday evening. Your funny observations about red carpet fashions and witty asides during the speeches are so much better when there are others there to hear them. Here’s everything you need to know to give your guests a night to remember.

Oscar-Themed Eats 

You can make your Oscar offerings as easy or elaborate as you’d like. Below are three menus to choose from based on how much (or how little) time you want to spend in the kitchen..

Popcorn Bar

Focus on the fun of movie watching instead of cooking and cleaning. Treat guests to a sweet and savory popcorn bar with birthday cake popcorn, Asiago and thyme popcorn and caramel bacon popcorn. Offer traditional movie theatre candies like Twizzlers or Red Vines, Raisinets, Goobers, Snowcaps, Jujubes, and Junior Mints. Glam it up by offering your guests Champagne.

oscar-party-popcorn
Photo by Pamela Rothbard.

Global Finger Foods 

Honor the nominated foreign language films by creating an international menu. You can buy or make this tasty menu. Serve Polish mini pierogies, Russian apple (Sharlotka) cake, Estonian deviled eggs and sun-dried or stuffed dates to represent Mauritania. Uncork a lovely Malbec from Argentina to round out the spread.

oscar-party-Argentinian-Malbec-wine
Photo courtesy of Clos de los Siete.

Best Picture-Themed Feast 

For the serious foodie or cinephile, theme your food table to the Best Motion Picture nominees. Have your friends guess which movie each dish represents. For example:

  • “American Sniper”: Make red, white and blue patriotic treats like red velvet cupcakes with white cream cheese icing and blue sprinkles topped with mini American flags.
  • “Whiplash”: Create your own sweet “drumsticks” by topping large pretzel rods with marshmallows and dipping them in different chocolates.
  • “Birdman”: Serve boneless chicken wings.
  • “Grand Budapest Hotel”: Make Mendl’s Courtesan au Chocolat—the cake that rescues the heroes from prison.
  • “Imitation Game”: Imbibe like you’re at an English pub with Boddingtons and Newcastle beers.

No time to prepare eight dishes? Ask guests to each bring a dish or drink themed to an assigned movie. This requires a bit of coordination on your part and some creativity from your guests, but the results are often surprising and funny. Cover the Oscar theme yourself with golden iced sugar cookies cut into award statues.

oscar-party-cookies
Photo courtesy of Bakerella.

Friendly Competition 

And the winner is…

Have your guests cast their votes for the Oscar award winners in your own mini-competition. Send ballots in advance or hand them out upon arrival to pit your friends against each other. Keep a running tally during the evening and announce periodic. Find free printable 2015 Oscar ballots at The Gold Knight or Fandango.

Oscar Bingo

Another fun way to create winning moments is to give each of your guests an Oscar bingo card to play during the telecast. You can make your own or create a customized version at Anchor Printables for a small fee. Your friends can mark off moments like “winner kisses Oscar” or “shot of Jennifer Lawrence in the audience” then call out “Oscar!” when they get five in a row.

Party Swag 

Don’t feel too sorry for Academy Award nominees that lose; they may not take home the golden guy but they don’t leave empty-handed. All nominees get a bag stuffed with gifts totaling upwards of $85,000. Offer your guests some take-home glamour for winning ballot or bingo awards or just give gifts as adult-sized goody bags (why should kids get all the fun?).

Okay, so you won’t be giving your guests a $15,000 walking tour of Japan like last year’s nominees received, but there are definitely Oscar-worthy treats within your budget. It’s too soon to know what’s in this year’s swag bag, but here are some great items from Oscars past:

oscar-party-bingo
Photo courtesy of Blossom Blends.

Other gift ideas are copies of books that nominated movies were based on such as “American Sniper” by Chris Kyle or “Alan Turing: The Enigma,” the book that inspired “The Imitation Game.”

Get Digital 

These days, we don’t just watch TV, we live tweet about it and interact with other viewers around the world on social media. Oscar night is prime time for getting in the digital game.

Twitter Fun 

Watch the Oscars play in real time on your television and also in the ticker of Twitter messages. Prior to the show, follow Oscar movers and shakers like show producer Neil Meron (@neilmeron), show host Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (@TheAcademy) as in, “I’d like the thank the Academy.” Also add the handles of your favorite comedians and humorists like @FunnyorDie and @e_FashionPolice for live tweets that will keep your partygoers laughing.

During the show, periodically check out tweets with hashtags #Oscars and #Oscars2015 for on-the-fly snark you can share with your group. Each Oscar year, a flurry of new Twitter accounts debut that reflect and build on funny, unplanned moments. For example, previous years have seen the creation of @JLosNipple, @AngiesRightLeg and @AdeleDazeem. If you’re following the Oscar hashtags, you’ll get in on the campy fun.

Oscars Apps

Chicago is one of only eight markets that can utilize the official Oscars app to get a glimpse of the action backstage. Download the “Watch ABC” app at abc.com or iTunes for a live digital stream from the red carpet, behind the scenes and a thank you cam. Install the app on your iPad and you can have it on the table running right alongside the broadcast.