There are two Sunday nights every year that it’s okay to throw a party on. The first is the night of the Oscars. The second has to do with some sporting event or other…I forget which.
This year, you and your friends are going to throw an Oscars night party that’ll make your faraway friends on Instagram and Facebook wish they lived a lot closer. To do this, you need the right plan.
Let’s walk through the most critical questions that will ultimately determine if your party takes home the Oscar or goes home a loser.
Step 1: The Guest List
There is simply one question here that will, literally, shape your entire party:
Kids or No Kids?
First, if you and your friends are only just getting into the childbearing years of adulthood then this is a no-brainer – call the babysitter. Nothing puts a damper on a fun evening more than an overtired baby or toddler.
Second, if you and your friends have kids covering an assortment of ages, then you have some decisions to make.
On the one hand, kids are entertaining. They’ll sing, they’ll perform, they’ll play games, and they love to be included. Staying up late is a special occasion for them and it’s great to give them that every once in a while.
But on the other hand, kids will keep your party PG. This could stifle the humor, the drinking, and how late the party goes. So this is a big decision to make. Think carefully.
Step 2: The Dress Code
If you’ve got kids coming, then you might opt for casual clothes suitable for playing on the floor. But if you’ve nixed the kids, then you have some fun options.
First option is to go dressy. How many opportunities do we really get to dress up, have some cocktails with friends, and not worry about the boss looking over your shoulder? Break out the suit, break out the gown, break out the uncomfortable shoes.
Second option is to go sexy. It’s a night out after all so let’s take full advantage of the evening. It’s a perfect night for the little black party dress, the un-tucked button-down with the sleeves rolled, and a little bling to impress.
Third option is to go in character. You have to have a willing group of friends but if you all really love the movies then you’ll jump at the chance to dress up like your favorite movie character. You can also take your theme to the next level – Golden Age characters, Best Picture characters, Sci-Fi characters…you get the picture.
Fourth option is to go in pajamas. Hey, you have to work the next day so while you want to hang with your friends you also want to be relaxed, cozy, and ready to jump into bed as soon as the last guest exits.
Step 3: Roll Out the Red Carpet
What is an Oscars party without a red carpet themed arrival? Order a red carpet runner online or from your local store and really raise your game.
Turn the whole moment into a fun game with prizes for best red carpet strut, best over-the-shoulder pose, most awkward runway kiss, etc. You can even do up some funny interview questions and give prizes for the best answers.
Get the entire thing on video and you’ve got social media gold – at least for you and your friends. At the very least, a red carpet runner creates an awesome Instagram moment for all of your guests that will really set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Step 4: Set the Menu
First consideration is the number of guests you’re inviting. Smaller numbers means you can do a fancy sit-down dinner but as your numbers increase you really move towards buffet style and then to finger foods and snacks.
Second consideration is your theme. If you’re having fancy dress but you’re serving buffalo wings then you’re going to have some awkward moments among your guests. If you’re doing a 1950s theme then cocktail weiners, mac and cheese, hamburger sliders, and onion rings might work perfectly.
Classic movie snacks work perfectly across all themes and add a little cinema magic to the evening. Popcorn, snowcaps, junior mints – the classics never disappoint.
Regardless, your primary goal is to get the food prepped ahead of time so you can spend time with your guests. Strike a balance between hot food you need to watch in the oven and cold food that goes from fridge to table easily and room temperature snacks you can strategically place throughout the party space well ahead of time.
Step 5: Don’t Forget the Drinks
You probably have a sense of what your friends already drink but it’s wise to have a selection on hand of soft drinks, beer, wine, hard alcohol, and mixers. Whatever you do, don’t make your guests search your fridge for a drink, your cabinets for a glass, or your drawers for an opener. Get everything ready and in one place. Use a cooler for cold drinks and set up a table for everything else.
If you’ve gone with a particular theme, you can match your drinks to it. If you’re doing a Golden Age of Hollywood theme, then brush up on your recipes for highballs, martinis (gin, not vodka), and pink squirrels (oh, it’s a drink all right)
Step 6: Decorate!
Gold and black balloons are a bit cliche for an Oscars party but if you’ve gone with fancy dress then they may be perfect.
However, I recommend you explore other options like old movie posters, cardboard popcorn boxes, red carpet runners for stairs and hallways. You can rent old-fashioned popcorn carts from your equipment rental store.
Step 7: Play Some Games
While the Oscars on TV give you a reason to host a red carpet themed party, it’s not much of a party if all your guests are just staring at the TV all night. Adding a few games into the mix puts your guests in the spotlight and generates memorable stories that will make your party unforgettable.
Handing out Oscar ballots for people to fill out is an easy, fun way to get the evening started as people talk about the different movies they’ve seen over the year. You can find them online and print them yourself.
Oscar bingo is also a fun way to make TV watching a little more interactive. Search online for “oscar bingo cards” and you’ll have a selection of printable cards to choose from.
For parties without kids, there are any number of drinking games you can play. Take a drink every time someone thanks their mother will probably leave you hurting in the morning.
Just remember to be responsible and safe – collect car keys beforehand and make sure the person in charge of deciding who can drive home or not stays sober. Don’t hesitate to call someone an Uber or Lyft – better safe than sorry.
Step 8: Make Some Great Memories
Let’s face it, as adults, we don’t spend nearly enough time with our friends and family. So when you have the opportunity (or an excuse) to have a party, make the most of it. Don’t sit around a TV together. Make the evening special. Make it movie-worthy.