When you're planning your party, whether it's for the Oscars, Emmys or Grammys, the first rule to follow is this: Keep it classy. That's what sets these shows apart and makes us so eager to score an invitation. You want it to be a party the celebs would want to attend.
So skip the gimmicky extras. Having a fake paparazzi take everyone's photos as they enter would be fun at a kids party (or even a more tongue-in-cheek adult party), but you want to feel like the celebs, who often sneak off to the best parties in secret.
What's the fun of an Oscar party if you aren't dressed to impress? Asking your guests to don crazy-expensive gowns and tuxes is a bit much, unless you're throwing a fundraiser or charity event. But cocktail-wear is just dressy enough to keep the theme without going to extreme lengths.
Some celebs host after-parties at su ($5 million) casa. So there's definitely nothing wrong with that if you've got the room (and the inclination to clean up the mess). But the best parties are held in snazzy joints people get to brag about just because they know where it is.
If you decide your home isn't the right place, contact a local hotel to find out about renting a room. Depending on your area, a nice enough space will probably cost you around $500, which can easily be split among the guests (10 guests makes it $50 each). Also, if you have guests from out of town (or just want a safe alternative to driving home), you may be able to get special room rates based on the rental.
If you're having your party at home, consider moving any furniture or decorative elements that would conflict with your party decorations or inhibit your guests' abilities to mingle easily.
Make sure the room is equipped with at least one TV (preferably several) that can tune in to all the red carpet action on your favorite channel and the event itself. You'll also want to account for tables (including buffet tables) and chairs and anything else you'll need for the party.
This is where you'll really want to pause. It's easy to get a bit cheesy with the decorations for your party. Think elegant bridal soiree sans the wedding flowers and favors, not homecoming. You can hire a party planner or caterer (many of whom also do minor decor related to cocktail parties), but it's not that hard (or even expensive) to DIY.
We recommend going with a one- or two-color theme and sticking with classic, elegant colors like white or black with gold or silver accents. But don't go overboard. A little goes a long way on Grammy night.
The appetizer or guest tables should all have matching tablecloths and a tasteful centerpiece. Try an inexpensive assortment of large, same-color candles of various heights atop round mirrors. You can decorate the candles with ribbons tied around the base if desired. If necessary, decorate the chairs with draped fabric and elegant satin bows.
Stick with real tableware (plates, glasses, stemware and silverware). Plastic anything will downgrade your party instantaneously. As much as possible, serving plates and bowls should also match.
Wolfgang Puck is a world-renowned chef who's done food for more of these awards shows than we can list. While you may not be a master chef, you can still provide Puck-worthy appetizers and cocktails if you keep it simple.
For apps, stick with those that have only a few ingredients and are easy to eat (especially if your guests are wearing nice clothes). If it would be perfectly at home in your Super Bowl game-day spread, you don't need it.
For cocktails, stock a simple wet bar with common ingredients to make several popular drinks, plus one or two specialty theme drinks to make the night memorable. Choose an elegant cocktail that matches your theme for the evening. Have one bottle of wine for every two guests (red and white). A decent bottle can cost as little as $10, so don't go overboard, but steer clear of the box. Guests who want beer can BYOB (if renting a space, check to make sure that's not against the rules), as it's difficult to please so many palates on a budget.
You could always hire your own caterer (who would also likely have a bartender), of course, but perhaps you should check out these easy but elegant recipes from the writers at SheKnows before you make that call.
If celebs do anything right, it's making sure they give back. From Angelina Jolie to Bono, celebrities use their star power (and fat paychecks) to give back to those in need. Host a party game in which guests "vote" for their favorite nominees by paying $1 (or $5 or $10) per category. Keep the money in the charity jar all night — the guest(s) who got the most winners right can choose the charity the money will benefit (acceptance speech optional).
At these types of events, celebs usually get goody bags filled with expensive freebies. While you probably can't afford the quadruple-digit value bags they give at the Emmys (since you have to actually buy the stuff), you can probably find a few inexpensive pieces to really make the evening one to remember.
In a gift bag filled with tissue that matches your decor, place just a few items of appreciation. Celebs have commented on getting anything from the latest and greatest moisturizer to iPod goodies, so the sky's the limit, really. Many super stores have sample aisles where you can get anything from lotions to fragrances. Just keep them higher end and make sure they aren't things people probably already have in their medicine cabinet.
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