Updated: 16 January 2017
Celebrity Inspired Oscar Party Tips
When it comes to awards season, celebrities are known for hosting and attending amazing after-parties. These lavish affairs cost thousands of dollars and attract some of the most famous people in the world. While the rest of us may never make the A-list guest list, we can still party like the stars, even on a budget. Taking a cue from some of the most famous hosts with the most, we’ve compiled our own star-worthy yet budget-savvy tips and tricks.
The Celeb Way:
When guests entered Sir Elton John’s 2009 post-Oscar bash, the tables were decked out in elegant, crisp black-and-white linens, expensive rentals no doubt.
While those linen rentals probably cost a pretty penny, yours don’t have to. Head to the local fabric store with your table measurements in hand and pick up fabric remnants. Go for a solid cotton or even felt (which is really inexpensive) in black and white or, if you’re more daring, choose a few bold prints too. Often, you can find discontinued pieces at a fraction of the cost. If the fabrics have frayed edges, just trim them with a pair of pinking shears for a clean finish. To dress up, your fabric (or to hide any visible stains or tears) apply sparkly crystal iron-on or rhinestones.
The Celeb Way:
Also in 2009, Madonna and Demi Moore teamed up to throw an over-the-top post-Oscar bash inspired by the winning movie, “Slumdog Millionaire.” No doubt the menu, packed with classic fare from India, was provided by an exclusive (and expensive) caterer.
Borrow their idea and plan your menu around one of the nominated movies. It could be inspired by the movie’s locale or perhaps by one of the characters. Better yet, after you’ve researched your menu, make your party a potluck and have everyone bring one of the dishes. Assigning your guests a “task” helps spread the cost around. Have some fun with it and name each menu item (select cocktails and desserts included) after the nominees–actors, actresses, movies, songs, have a good time with it!
The Celeb Way:
The tables at Elton John’s bash were topped with a gorgeous centerpiece bursting with beautiful white hydrangeas and sturdy green leaves, which can be quite expensive, especially when arranged by a top florist.
If flower arranging is not your thing, try this easy centerpiece. Bunches of white carnations from the grocery store make an elegant yet inexpensive stand-in for pricier hydrangeas. Cluster the carnations into large bouquets, trim as needed and tie a rubber band around the stems to keep the bunch together. Insert the bunches into short square glass vases, add a few green leaves, and you’re done! Surround your centerpieces in elegant candlelight with plain white votive candles set in juice glasses from your kitchen. Candlelight takes any type of decor to a whole new level.
The Celeb Way:
Elton performed live, and Madonna and Demi hired Sean “Diddy” Combs to DJ their party. A-list celebs can afford A-list entertainment. You? Not so much.
If you like the idea of having a DJ on hand to keep the tunes playing all night, especially if you’re hosting a party for a music award show, think local. Take a leap of faith and invite an up-and-coming DJ from the neighborhood or ask a neighbor’s music-loving teenager to come and handle the tunes. Offer to pay a small fee or perhaps they’ll say the gig (and free food and drink) is reward enough. Supply them with a “must-play” iTunes playlist ahead of time and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Oscars-Inspired Party Menu: Let the Nominees Be Your Culinary Guide
If you’re a movie buff — or just looking for a reason to host a fabulous Oscars party — an Academy Awards gathering is a great opportunity to get creative. But don’t feel like you have to hire paparazzi to stalk your guests. The food you serve is an easy way to bring in some Hollywood inspiration without getting all James Cameron-ish about the production values.
Since most of your Oscars evening, including the dinner hour, will be spent in front of a TV screen, your drinks and snacks will be in the spotlight. You could go the general glamor route, following the lead of official Oscar after-party chef Wolfgang Puck. Or you could riff on the contending films themselves and put together a playful menu packed with movie references.
We’ve put together suggestions in three key categories: Drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts. Mix and match these options to suit your tastes, both culinary and cinematic.
Appetizers for Your Consideration
Let the night’s most popular films inspire your party menu. Show your support for The Blind Side, set in Memphis, with Southern-themed dishes like Slow-Cooker BBQ Ribs and Corn & Cheddar Cornbread. Popular Oscar contender, The Hurt Locker, takes place in Iraq; why not introduce a little Middle Eastern flavor to your soirée by serving Babaganoush with warmed pitas and Hummus with Crudites? Finally, in support of Precious as well as co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin-who both started off their careers in New York serve favorite NYC dishes such as Classic Pizza, Smoked Salmon Spread with bite-size pieces of bagel and, of course, New York-Style Cheesecake.
Moet & Chandon White Star Champagne and wines from Sterling Vineyards: These bottles got exclusive invites to the Academy’s Governors Ball. You can drink like George Clooney all night long…
McClure’s whiskey: In “Crazy Heart,” country musician Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) sucks this down like it’s oxygen. The brand is fictional, so make up a label and wrap it around a bottle of your own favorite hooch.
Blue Martini: To nod to the azure-skinned Na’vi of “Avatar,” shake up a batch of martinis with a bit of blue Curaçao (about half a teaspoon per drink).
Cider: Raise a glass to the title character of “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” who breaks into Mr. Bean’s secret cider cellar.
Miniature bottles of booze: Look near the front counter of a liquor store for 50 ml bottles, the kind that Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) nabbed in airplanes and hotel minibars in “Up in the Air.” Toss in some peanuts and mini-pretzels for the whole package.
Tea: For a caffeine hit, turn to the English national drink in honor of the gaggle of nominated films set in the U.K.: “An Education,” “The Young Victoria,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Bright Star,” “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” “Sherlock Holmes,” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
Smoked salmon hors d’oeuvres: Puck’s traditional Oscar menu includes his signature pizza topped with smoked salmon, caviar, and dill cream. Instead of pulling out a pizza stone, you can mirror the flavors by using the toppings on crackers or thinly sliced baguettes. If you’re not up for ladling on the Sevruga, try salmon roe or just a sprinkle of chives.
Prawns: In the sci-fi flick “District 9,” the aliens are dubbed “prawns” because of their tentacled faces. Grilled shrimp with a dipping sauce is an easy snack. Just remember to leave the heads on! Double down your movie reference by choosing a South African recipe like prawns peri-peri, since the film was set in Johannesburg.
Buttermilk biscuits: Blake in “Crazy Heart” may be a lush, but he also makes a mean biscuit.
Borscht: Since it can be served warm or cold, this beet soup is handy for a party. The Russian author (and vegetarian) Leo Tolstoy, whose final year was the basis of “The Last Station,” must have slurped down his share.
Baba ghanouj: Barring military MREs (meals ready to eat), you can salute “The Hurt Locker” with this traditional Middle Eastern eggplant dip.
Anything from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” This cookbook by Julia Child-centered the film “Julie & Julia.” All sorts of mouthwatering dishes appear in the movie so browse through the tome and find something that suits you, whether it be a quiche or onion soup. (Remember Meryl Streep as Julia chopping her way through a mountain of onions!)
Fried chicken: Pay tribute to the bittersweet moment in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” when Precious steals a bucket of chicken.
French cheeses: In “An Education,” Jenny (Carey Mulligan) lives her francophilic dream with a picnic along the Seine with her mysterious lover. Classics like Brie de Meaux and Cantal are crowd-pleasers, but consider branching out with something like an Ossau-Iraty.
Chocolate truffles: Chef Sherry Yard will include these in her triple-decker dessert bento boxes at the Governors Ball. And they’re easier to come by than her signature gold-covered chocolate Oscar statuettes.
Beignets: In “The Princess and the Frog,” heroine Tiana specializes in these deep-fried pastries. You can find an easy recipe in Disney’s tie-in “Tiana’s Cookbook” or order up a beignet mix from the famed Café du Monde in New Orleans.
Apple strudel with fresh schlag (whipped cream): One of the most chilling scenes in “Inglourious Basterds” involves an innocent-looking apple strudel. Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) demolishes this dessert while coolly interrogating a vengeful young girl. Glass of milk optional.
A pre-made pie: Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with ready-made. In “The Blind Side,” Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) gathers her family, including Michael, around a store-bought Thanksgiving dinner.
Fenton’s ice cream: A branch of this turn-of-the-20th-century soda fountain just happens to be near the offices of Pixar. At the end of “Up,” Russell and Carl sit in front of Fentons, licking their cones and watching the cars go by. You can get to-go orders, but unfortunately, they don’t ship, so you’ll have to be in striking distance to enjoy the ice cream.
Invite your friends, lay out the spread, and don’t forget your ballots, party favors and that strip of red carpet for your hallway!