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.