Thursday, March 4, 2010

we have this thing down to a science

It's Awards Season, everyone! Which means I have decided to peek out from under the pile of work where I've been hiding to talk Oscar Party.

Mac and I have been throwing this party together for years. I think since 2002? It was whatever year Will Smith was nominated for his role in Ali, because that was the year we came up with the punch (get it??) recipe that would become the Almighty Funch.

Needless to say, by now we have this thing down to a science. So for those of you who can't make it or are looking for ideas on throwing your own shindig in your corner of the world, here are my tips:

1. A clever, ambitious menu is fun; a short & easy one is better. A couple years ago, I created a deconstructed ratatouille appetizer that was delicious, but super complicated (you bake the ratatouille using the recipe from the movie, toast up some olive-oil-drizzled crostini in the oven, and pile the hot veggie goodness on the bread, and top with a dollop of goat cheese). The year before that I sauteed up a hot, savory filling for lettuce wraps that turned out to be highly involved tricky to assemble & eat. Both of those years, those complicated offerings were part of extensive, fabulous menus, I spent the entire party in the kitchen, and all my friends bitched about it. Last year, I shortened the menu, made MORE of each item, and spent twice as much time watching the show and chatting with friends. No one noticed or cared about the shorter menu, and no one complained about not seeing me. More importantly--I had a much better time!

2. Prizes, prizes, prizzizes! The easiest way to get everyone into the spirit of an awards show--even when the show itself sucks which, let's face it, is often likely--is to put money on it. You can print ballots from the official Oscar site or make your own. The person with the most right gets a nice wad of cash--we do a $10 buy-in. We also do prizes for the runners up and a booby prize for whoever gets the least right--these are all made up of donated swag, so if you don't have the connections? Save your money. Mostly, people just want the cash.

3. The easiest way to decorate for your party is with your guests, I always say. For awards night, we encourage cocktail & party attire as well as movie-inspired costumes. The costumes usually win the Best Dressed award, a prize we will often purchase & assemble, but is still pretty easy. Books about the history of Oscar attire, Vogue magazine, and/or a bottle of nice hooch is sufficient to support the honor of being the most dazzling/creative/brave soul of the party.

4. Multiple Viewing Options! People like to watch awards shows differently. Some are into the whole peanut gallery thing; others prefer the quiet. We offer a variety of options. If you're having 20 or more people to your party, I think you need at least 2 TVs. We offer 4-5. It's probably overkill. There's one in the living room for the rowdy bunch, one outside for smokers & people who want to cool off, a quiet room for the live-bloggers & people who take it more seriously, and one in the kitchen for, well, me. We've also done 1 in the garage in the past, but we're so not cleaning the garage this year so I think we'll stick with the very reasonable four.

5. Keep decor classic & simple. Black table cloth, white platters, gold stars. A plastic red "carpet" for people as they walk up to your place is always a nice touch, and you can find them at most party supply stores. Our personal touch to the decor is the Best Picture Centerpiece, comprised of a variety of fun, symbolic objects to represent each film. With 10 Best Picture nominees this year, this centerpiece will be even more dominant than ever.

And honestly? That's it. Not to untoot my horn and encourage anyone to be less impressed with our efforts, but that really is all there is to it. Have fun at your parties on Sunday, everyone! Maybe I'll even find the time to let you know how ours goes down.

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