Because picking out the best dressed with friends is half the fun! The 87th Annual Academy Awards is just around the corner, but there’s still time to plan a last-minute bash before the red carpet kicks off on Feb. 22. So don’t fret, and get started now: Event designer and entertaining expert Cory Martin tells Us Weekly his best planning tips to follow, including the most clever party themes, cocktails to sip, and activities that’ll keep your guests busy during the three-hour show.
1. Decide Your Party’s Theme
First things first! Do you prefer a classy affair or a shindig based off of your favorite Oscar-nominated films? (Or any movie from the past year!) For the latter, Martin has quick and creative ideas for five flicks.
The Lego Movie: “Decors should be colorful to mimic the movie,” Martin tells Us. In addition, guests can make “Oscars 2015!” photo backdrops with assorted legos — that is, if waiters (dressed as the film’s characters) don’t use all of them for their buffet trays.
A Million Ways to Die in the West: Howdy, y’all! Partygoers should drop by in their best Western attire, and be greeted with a “Welcome to the County Fair” sign at the door. For fun, include a variety of games like darts and drinking games and set up an 1880s style photo booth with props such as hats and liquor bottles.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson’s-inspired bash should have all the works: a “Lobby Boy” greeter, and an exquisite dessert buffet with pastries. In addition, Martin suggests “one selected guest to ‘steal’ a replica of The Boy with an Apple painting and guests need to figure out who it is.”
The Imitation Game: “Decorate the house in glow stars and black lights,” Martin says. “The bar backdrop can be a large chalkboard with math equations that need to be figured out to order a drink.”
Throwing a film-themed party, however, isn’t for everyone. For a more lavish celebration, Martin suggests a gold backdrop with white flower centerpieces and candles. Gold place settings, utensils, mini gold martini shakers, and champagne glasses will also help the room pop. A fake Oscar statue (can be bought at any party store!) can be used as each guests’ name tag at the table, too.
Don’t forget the finishing touch! The dress code should align with the party’s theme. If you take the more classy route, “black and white always works regardless if you are wearing a tux or black jeans and a white T-shirt,” Martin says. However, “if you are creating a specific theme then everyone will need to dress up as a character in the film.”
2. Break Out the Booze!
Creative (and tasty!) cocktail recipes are a must for Oscars night. Here, Martin has whipped up some film-themed choices to get the party started.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Champagne coupe)
Veev, fresh Meyer lemon juice, Cointreau, topped with Zonin Prosecco. Garnish with an edible flower.
Boyhood (Mason Jar)
Muddle fresh mint and honey. Then mix with fresh jalapeño-infused vodka and chilled fresh brewed green tea over ice. Garnish with mint.
Fury (Shot glass)
Fireball Whisky, topped with Baileys Irish Cream, garnished with an orange slice that has been dipped in cinnamon sugar.
Gone Girl (Shot glass)
Muddle mint, agave, and blackberries. Shake with cachaca (Brazilian Rum) and ice and pour into shot glass.
3. Whip Up Oscar-Worthy Snacks
No matter what the party theme, guests should have plenty of food to munch on. Here’s some quick desserts to set out:
The Lego Movie: The host can make colorful Rice Krispies treats stacked up like the film’s city.
American Sniper: Patriotic cookies and candies that are red, white, and blue, are perfect to make in honor of Bradley Cooper’s drama.
Into the Woods: It’s simple! Milk and cookies in a Little Red Riding Hood basket is the way to go.
4. Let the Games Begin!
Sure, all eyes will be on the live show, but there’s plenty of games to keep guests busy during the commercial breaks. First up: an Oscar ballot. Martin notes that guests can download the “Quick Ballot Voting System” app on their iPad before the first category is read.
Prizes for the winner(s) can be free movie passes, DVDs from the nominated films, or even a red carpet “spa day” that includes a free pedicure, manicure, and massage.
Hosts can also designate an area for a photo booth to pose with the Oscar-nominated stars. Print out large photos of the A-listers and attach to long popsicle sticks. As for music? Depending on the crowd, Martin says “any type of fun music” may be a nice addition to the gathering. He notes: “I am always for karaoke of nominated songs and soundtracks.”
5. Don’t Leave Them Empty-Handed
Handing out goody bags at the end of the bash wouldn’t hurt. After all, they chose your party to attend! Some favor ideas include DVDs of the nominated films, movie tickets, or a personalized frame they can put their photo booth pics in.
But you don’t have to spend a pretty penny on the gift. A cheaper plan is creating a “Red Carpet Ready Kit” that’s filled with makeup, lip gloss, lotions, and nail polish.
Tell Us: What kind of Oscars party will you be having this year?
The 87th Annual Academy Awards air live at 8:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 22, on CBS.
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