Jaynie has extensive experience with party and event planning. She has planned events for groups of 20 to 600 people.
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Planning the Perfect Oscar Theme Party
A Magical Night at the Oscars
For celebrities around the globe, the American Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars, is an unforgettable event which can begin months in advance with the selection of the perfect outfit and ends on Oscar night with all the pomp and circumstance that you’d expect from Hollywood!
Most of us will never get to experience that magic firsthand, but with a little creativity, that magic can be created right in your own backyard with all of the pampering that precedes the big event.
The original International Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was established in 1927 by an illustrious group from the movie industry including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille and Louis B. Mayer. The very first Academy Awards were presented in 1929 at a black-tie dinner at the Roosevelt Hotel. Over the years the event has grown into the world’s most anticipated and illustrious awards ceremony, televised across the country and honoring actors, actresses, directors, composers, producers, screenwriters and others from around the globe for their outstanding work in the field of motion pictures. Past recipients of the awards include Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Hilary Swank, Mary Pickford, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Marcia Gay-Harden, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, and many others. Best Pictures have included American Beauty, Dancing with Wolves, Slumdog Millionaire, Million Dollar Baby, Crash, No Country for Old Men, Titanic, and Shakespeare in Love.
On Oscar day, presenters and nominees alike pamper themselves with massages, manicures, pedicures, and hair and makeup styling. They sleep in and eat sparingly, saving their appetites for magnificent feasts that await them at any number of swanky after-parties. They dress in the most expensive gowns, tuxedos and shoes, sporting millions of dollars in baubles rented from the likes of Harry Winston, Tiffany’s and Neil Lane. Then just prior to the ceremony millions watch in rapt amazement as some of the world’s most glamorous people step out of their limousines and into the limelight as thousands of flashes illuminate the evening and paparazzi call out to the most famous people on the planet.
Creating the Magic on Any Budget
Recreating Oscar magic is easy even when on a shoestring budget. That is because many of the things you’ll need to create the magic are very inexpensive and you might already have many of them lying around the house. By exercising your creativity you can make almost everything you’ll need for this amazing party without using outside contractors. That will leave you money left over to splurge on a limousine to squire your guests to and from your party. Imagine your yard, awash in the romantic glow of thousands of white lights, strewn about the trees and hedges, tiki torches illuminating the night and gold, silver, red and black accents creating a swanky ambience. But let’s start at the beginning…
As with any party, your invitations will serve as your calling card, announcing that you are about to invite a select group of people to what promises to be a very special event. The fancier and more creative the invitation, the more intrigued your guests will be.
Using 5x7 black cardstock embossed with gold script will add a classy touch. Invitations printed using the colors that will be featured at the party adds a sense of cohesiveness and is a nod to your impeccable attention to detail. Consider brushing the edges of the cardstock with clear glue and dusting them with gold and silver glitter and small red sequins for an added flair. Print your scripted invitations using a bold font such as Eduardian Script or Lucida Calligraphy to evoke the flavor of old Hollywood. Scallop or burn the edges of the copy paper or white card stock before gluing or pasting to the black and glitter background. Place invitations in black envelopes and address to guest in scripted print using a shimmery gold paint pen.
If you can afford to do so, assure that the invitations let guests know that they will be picked up and returned home in the limousine that you have rented for the evening. In addition, if you would like to make this a black tie affair or have guests dress in the colors of the evening, be sure to indicate your preferences on the invitations.
Preparing the Swag Bags
The Oscars are as famous for the celebrities that walk the Red Carpet as they are for the incredibly valuable Swag Bags that are given out to Oscar presenters. These bags are routinely filled with swanky items such as designer handbags, valuable jewels, gift certificates for spa treatments, vacation packages, designer shoes and more. You can create your own version of the Swag Bag as an added bonus for your guests for a lot less!
Start by selecting small gift bags that are shiny black or gold with the same colored rope handles. For an added flare, you can purchase a strand of fluffy or feather material and hot glue it around the rim of the bag. The gifts can be nestled in red tissue for the black bags and gold tissue for the gold bags.
Gift ideas might include silk lipstick caddies with mirrors; compact mirrors; black or gold sunglasses; travel sized bottle of liquor for adult guests; small boxes of Godiva chocolates; small picture frames; small wooden trinket boxes; travel sized bottles of lotion or bath oil; decks of playing cards with fancy designs on them; coasters with art deco designs; and more.
Unless you have personalized the bags, one can be left at each place setting for guests to discover their swag upon arrival. By assuring that each bag is slightly different, you will offer your guests an opportunity to mingle and compare swag as they await the official start of your program.
- Black card stock (one per invited guest)
- Clear glue
- Gold and/ or silver glitter
- Red sequins
- Gold metallic paint pen
- Copier paper
- Black envelopes
For Swag Bags
- Metallic black and gold bags (one per guest)
- Hot glue gun/ glue sticks **
- Fluffy or feathery rope **
- Red and gold tissue paper
- Items for Swag Bag gifts (of your choosing)
Creating a Magical Setting
Intimate gatherings in your own backyard are often the most comfortable and enjoyable. While it takes more work to have to clean and prepare the setting than it does to rent space, choosing your own home as the venue allows you the flexibility to create the ambience that you choose, including how loud to play your music, the level of lighting and the hours of your gathering.
A large sign beside the mouth of the drive, should signal where guests are to be dropped off by the limousine. Beautiful signs can easily be made from large, quarter inch thick black poster board mounted onto thin silver poles. Purchase glittery silver letters and mount on board with hot glue. Sign should read:
7:00 – 10:00 PM
Making a grand entrance to the Oscars is essential. Everyone wants to see and be seen on the Red Carpet. Red Carpets can be purchased at various party supply stores including online at orientaltrading.com. You can purchase them online cheaper than making them, but if you prefer a more plush, durable Red Carpet, you may consider making one of the requisite length and width by purchasing fabric from the local fabric store.
Line your driveway from the mouth to the garage with the red carpet. You will achieve the best results if you have enough carpet to line the walkway from the mouth of the drive to the entrance of the party. I like to use tiki torches to line the walkway and create an added level of warmth and intimacy.
Along either side of the Red Carpet, line the walkway with large gold stars to simulate the sidewalk outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. On each star paste the name of a different guest in glittery silver letters. At the head of the walkway, place two Inflatable Movie Buff statues which can also be purchased online from Orientaltrading.com. They are currently $9.99 each.
As guests arrive, have a play list turned on that includes songs such as Puttin’ On the Ritz by TACO and Hurray for Hollywood by Johnny Scat Davis.
When your guests see the party area for the first time, you want it to make a lasting impression, so lighting and colors are essential. Create an appealing dining experience using either eight foot tables or six to eight top round tables, draped in black linens. Tables should feature small candles floating in brandy snifters and colorful floral arrangements. If using eight-foot tables, set them end to end to create one long dining table at the center of which can be placed a large silver candelabra. You may also choose to use bouquets of black, silver and gold balloons tethered with gold ribbon to gold or silver balloon bouquet weights. All of these supplies can be found at most party supply stores that will inflate your balloons with helium as well. The bouquets add an elegant yet somewhat whimsical touch to your event.
Tables should be set with gold plates and silver utensils with gold accents. Wine goblets at each place with red, gold and or silver wine charms and heavy leaded water glasses with gold rims make particularly nice accents. If you don’t have enough wine or leaded water glasses for every guest, you may consider renting them. If this isn’t in your budget, you can purchase very nice looking plastic champagne flutes in bulk from any number of party supply stores. I’ve used these and they’ve worked out great. The best thing was that my table was gorgeous, but I didn’t have to worry about anything getting broken. The same goes for the plates and utensils. If need be, you can set an incredible table using gold plastic plates and utensils. I’ve done it and it was still very elegant. The guests all commented on how beautiful the table was. I suggest using black napkins in keeping with the color scheme, but red napkins make a nice accent to the table as well. Each place setting should include a preprinted card with the titles of 5 songs that have been featured in the movies and a pen. Choose songs that are likely to appeal to your audience. This will be explained further in The Program section.
Each place setting should also contain a Swag Bag filled with gifts. This doesn’t have to be anything expensive, just use your creativity and what you know about your guests to select fun, memorable gifts. You can refer back to the previous page for some neat ideas for both men and women.
Stringing white holiday lights through the trees and shrubbery casts a warm, romantic glow over the party.
For Entrance, Dinner and Programs Decorations
- Tables and chairs (8 ft. or eight top round tables to accommodate number of guests)
- Black linen table cloths
- Candelabra with tapered candles
- Floral centerpieces
- Brandy snifters with floating tea candles
- Gold plates
- Red napkins
- Water and wine glasses
- Serving platters/ bowls/ utensils
- 1 card table
- 1 milk crate
- Gold linen drape for card table
- White lights (enough to string about trees and shrubbery)
- Tiki torches
- 2 inflatable Golden Buff statues
- Red carpet (long enough to line driveway and lead to party area entrance)
- Large golden stars (one for each confirmed guest)
- Silver adhesive letters to spell each guests name on stars
- Boom box or i-Pod player and select music
- Copier paper or 3x5 cards for printing the Best Song ballots (one for each guest)
- Pens (one for each guest)
- Karaoke machine (optional)
- Dress for emcee portion of evening
- Gold Oscar statues
- Certificates for each winner announcing their prize
- Preprinted emcee script
For Celebrity Parking Sign
- Large blackboard for sign (1/4 inch thick)
- 2 silver rods (each about 3 feet in length)
- Clear packing tape
- Large glittery silver letters and accents
- Hot glue gun/ sticks or Krazy Glue (unless letters are self-adhesive)
Limousine (Optional, but adds a nice touch)
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When planning your program, it is essential to make each guest feel as if they are part of the special evening, and give them something to look forward to. I purchase small Oscar replicas at a local trophy and award shop. If you so choose, you can pay extra to have them engraved in advance with each “winner’s” name and award title. Orientaltrading.com also has movie gold buff trophies for about ten dollars per dozen which are very fun, though less durable.
To create an authentic awards podium I set up a card table with a crate in the center and draped the entire thing in gold linen. I purchased a director’s board and used it with the Oscar statues to decorate the table.
Use a microphone to assure that all of your guests can hear the program. They’ll appreciate this when you call their names for a variety of silly awards that you have prearranged. To assure that your program flows smoothly have your script typed out in advance. To add to the flair of the evening, I chose to wear a ball gown that I had saved from my sister’s wedding. It was the perfect wardrobe choice as I served as emcee for the program. I planned a short, black dress for the “After Party” portion of the evening.
Before announcing each award, let your audience know that they are responsible for voting on the “Best Song” award. The nominees are printed on cards at each place setting.
Awards should be planned for each confirmed guest and written into the program. Awards should include good humor that is personal to each guest and fit within the evening’s movie theme. Some examples of awards might be:
Best Comedic Actress for her title role in the blockbuster hit, “Jaynie Baker’s Wild Aruban Vacation” goes to Jaynie Baker.
Best Supporting Actor for his role as Wendy’s wacky boyfriend in the comedy/ drama “Wendy and Ken’s Wild Ride” goes to Ken McInerney.
Best Director goes to Michael Blettner. for his epic film, “Michael Blettner’s Grand Promotion”
The award for best voice-over work goes to Alicia Trudell, for her work as the laughing hyena in Walt Disney’s smash hit, “The Lion King.”
An alternative to having one emcee for the entire program would be to have each winner announce the subsequent winner until all the awards have been given out. This will help further engage all guests and give the host or hostess an opportunity to grab a bite to eat with his or her guests.
To incorporate the five nominees for “Best Song from a Major Motion Picture,” space them out evenly between awards and play them as they are announced. These breaks in the program will give guests the opportunity to get more food, stretch their legs and maybe even do a bit of dancing. It also assures that each guest remembers each song that is being considered for the big award. If you are inviting the kind of guests that are willing to really get into the spirit, you might even arrange to choose songs that can be performed karaoke style and have guests agree to perform each song live, just like at the real Oscars! Karaoke machines can be rented at many party supply stores.
At the end of the awards program, ask guests to cast their votes for “Best Song” and collect the ballots. Announce the winner of the “Best Song” category and kick off the After-Party by getting guests dancing to that song. The songs played at the After-Party should ideally be songs from major motion pictures.
Many party stores carry CDs with movie themed songs. You can also search for the exact songs that you want on i-Tunes. When preparing your CD, remember to mix up the music so that you include one to two slower songs for every five or six dance tunes. This will enable guests to get a chance to catch their breath and appeal to a variety of dance styles, abilities and energy levels.
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A Fun Alternative
Many celebrities attend several After-Parties on Oscar night. This allows them to be seen rubbing shoulders with the cream of the Hollywood crop. Even the rich and famous can be star struck when it comes to walking the red carpet alongside their life-long idols. This tradition of After-Party hopping provides you with a great opportunity to plan a round robin affair with several of your closest friends. The main host may serve as the emcee and host the awards ceremony portion of the evening, serving nothing but drinks. The friends could all split the cost of the limousine, which makes it considerably more affordable and provides a designated driver for the evening to assure that all those who are drinking can get around safely. Limousines are stocked with sodas or champagne at the request of the person renting it, so be sure to inquire about anything that you might like to have included. Following the awards ceremony, guests may travel to another location for the appetizer style dinner after which they head to the final destination for a sampling of coffees, desserts and dancing. Ladies may even decide to get manicures or massages prior to the evening’s festivities and keep a change of clothing at each house into which they can change, much like the Hollywood actresses do!
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The rest of the evening is up to you. Once the program has ended, it is the perfect time for guests to continue mingling, dancing, dining, drinking and perusing their Swag Bags. This is your time, as host or hostess, to just let the magic happen. Enjoy!
To Do List
One Month in Advance
- Shop for materials to make invitations
- Make invitations
- Book limousine if you choose this option
- Book table and chair rentals
- Order supplies through orientaltrading.com such as:
- Inflatable Golden Buff statues
- Red carpet
- Golden Buff statues **
- Purchase Gold Oscar statues (**if not ordered through orientaltrading.com)
Two to Four Weeks in Advance
- Mail invitations
- Take inventory of supplies that you have
- Compile shopping list for rest of items
One Week in Advance
- Finalize music selections and compile CD
- Make/ fill Swag Bags
- Make celebrity parking sign
- Make celebrity stars to line walkway
- Finalize wardrobe selections
- Finalize menu
- Confirm limousine and table/ chair orders
- Write script for program
One Day in Advance
- Grocery shopping (get as many pre-made foods as you can)
- Prepare foods that can be made ahead
- String white lights
Day of Event
- Prepare remaining foods
- Set up tables and chairs
- Set up Program podium
- Set up sound system
- Pick up floral arrangements if applicable
- Set up red carpet and tiki torches
- Stake in Celebrity Parking sign
The Oscar Dinner
For this party, I prefer to serve a variety of appetizers instead of a large feast. This allows guests to sample a variety of tasty delicacies while enjoying the evening’s entertainment. You may select appetizers of your choosing. I prefer to include meatballs, cocktail wieners, raw veggies with a variety of dips, cheeses with crackers, beef tartare and tuna tartare with cocktail ryes, baked brie with apples, crab-stuffed mushroom caps, bruschetta, and a variety of desserts such as mini cream puffs, cheesecakes, cupcakes and éclairs.
The nice thing about this food is that you can find much of it already prepared at your local deli. This will save you the time and stress of having to make it. I’ll include a few recipes for things that you may want to make at the end of this chapter, but consider purchasing the other items pre-made. It won’t add much expense and you’ll be glad you did.
Because the portion sizes of appetizer fare tend to be smaller, be sure that you have enough of each item to allow your guests to sample some of each and feel satisfied.
You may serve a variety of wines, high-end beers or champagne in addition to sparkling ciders and bottled water for your guests that do not drink alcohol.
Baked Brie with Apples and Pecans
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- ½ lb. Brie cheese
- 4 tbsp. apple filling
- 1/10 lb. pecans, chopped
- 1 medium egg, white only, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 390 degrees. Bring refrigerated pastry sheet to room temperature but do not remove packaging. Place wheel of Brie on a plate and cover with apple filling. Top with nuts.
When pastry sheet has reached room temperature, remove the packaging. Fold Brie into pastry sheet and place onto a greased baking pan. Pinch pastry together to seal and trim off excess pastry.
Brush pastry sheet with egg white. Bake 20-25 minutes or until crust is light golden brown.
Baked Brie with Strawberries
- 1 to 1.5 lb. unsliced round loaf whole grain bread
- 1 to 1.5 lb. round Brie cheese with rind, 6-8 inches in diameter
- Fresh strawberries
- Apple slices
- Lemon juice
Slice ½ inch off top of bread. To make bread shell, insert toothpicks in a circle around top of the cut loaf, 1 inch from edges. Use serrated knife to cut down through the loaf around the toothpicks, leaving a base 1 inch thick. Use fingers to gently remove center. If necessary, trim cheese into a circle 2 inches smaller than diameter of bread. Insert cheese into bread, then wrap in foil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until heated through.
Top with strawberries and apple slices dipped in lemon juice. Slice into wedges and serve. Makes 16-20 servings.
Crab Meat Stuffed Mushrooms
- ¾ lb. medium fresh mushrooms
- Melted butter
- One 7.5 oz. can crab meat
- 4 tbsp. soft bread crumbs
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. chopped chives
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove stems from mushrooms and brush caps with melted butter. Arrange in greased baking dish. Drain and flake crab meat. Combine crab meat, 2 tbsp. bread crumbs, eggs, mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice, pepper and 2 tbsp. butter in small bowl.
Fill each mushroom cap with crab mixture. Combine 2 tbsp. butter and remaining bread crumbs; sprinkle over crab stuffing. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot.
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- 6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1.5 lbs)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
- ¼ cup olive oil
Prepare the tomatoes first. Parboil the tomatoes for 1 minute in boiling water that has just been removed from burner. Drain. Using a sharp small knife, remove tomato skins. (If tomatoes are too hot, protect your fingers by rubbing them with an ice cube between tomatoes). Once tomatoes are peeled, cut them in halves or quarters and remove seeds and juice from centers. Also cut out and discard stem areas.
Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
While oven is heating, chop tomatoes finely. In large bowl, mix tomatoes, garlic, 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, and vinegar. Add chopped basil. Salt and pepper to taste.
Slice baguette diagonally to about ½ inch thickness. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using pastry brush. Place on cooking sheet, olive oil side down. Toast on top rack in oven, so you may need to make multiple batches. Toast for 5 to 6 minutes or until bread just begins to turn golden brown.
Align bread on serving platter, olive oil side up. Top with bruschetta immediately before serving to avoid soggy bread. You can also place bruschetta in a bowl and let guests top their own bread.
Makes about 24 slices.
As an alternative, you may also choose to place bruschetta on bread slices and top with a tsp. of goat cheese. Place under broiler just until cheese begins to bubble, then serve immediately.
- 2.5 ob. Sirloin steaks (or pre-ground sirloin)
- 4 tbsp. dry red wine
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ tsp. Tabasco sauce
- 2 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. season salt
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- 1 loaf cocktail rye bread slices
- Hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- Small jar capers
If using sirloin steaks, chop sirloin into cubes. Place in food processor and chop/ puree until meat is the consistency of ground beef.
Mix with ingredients; refrigerate for 2 hours.
Mound on plate and decorate with well-drained capers. Serve on thinly sliced cocktail rye bread with sides of finely chopped hard boiled eggs and thinly sliced red onions.
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Jaynie2000 (author) on November 10, 2010:
Thank you so much for your comment. I just saw it today as it had been flagged as spam. But I truly appreciate your comments.
promotional gifts on July 07, 2010:
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