Hollywood’s biggest night is one of the few remaining events that fans want to watch live as it’s happening, and with groups of friends – like the Big Game or presidential election results. Whether it’s an intimate gathering around your TV or something more elaborate, movie fans everywhere see Sunday's awards show as a chance to celebrate their love for movies with other cinephiles.

We talked to experts and veterans for some up-to-date tips.



Oscars Party
Mark Sticklin

“There are two things you must have,” says Los Angeles caterer Mark Sticklin, who’s been doing this for 20 years. “You must have a step-and-repeat (a backdrop for ‘red carpet’ style photos of guests) and you must have all the TVs in the house on, even the phones with videos and all the computer screens.”

Atlanta-based public relations executive and occasional film critic Stephen Brown makes sure to populate his parties with “aficionados of the awards-season horse race,” the kind of folks (like him) who know the back story to every production.

That might not be necessary all the way around the flatscreen, although a love for movies, or at least celebrities, helps. It’s always fun, though, to have that one clueless partygoer who simply has no idea (as long as he stays mostly quiet).

An Inside Look at the A-List

As an entertainment journalist in Atlanta, Richard Eldredge had met plenty of celebrities. But nothing compared to the night he attended an A-list Hollywood party on the movie industry’s biggest night.

The stars. The décor. The famous chef’s five-course meal. “It was jaw-dropping -- just ridiculous,” he recalls now, a decade later. “That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

After that, though, Eldredge prefers a more commonplace approach: just inviting a few friends over to watch the ceremony together. “I’m perfectly content to make something in the crockpot, sit on the couch with a glass of wine and the people I invited -- and just enjoy it.”

Hooray for Hollywood

Other fun party ideas:

1. Add a little glamor or kitsch: Send movie-ticket invitations. Decorate with posters or photos of silver screen legends. You don’t have to go “all out,” of course…

2. But some people do: The most amazing Oscar party I ever attended was at a swanky private home, with valet parking, red carpet, fine catering and an in-house theater. The hostess also asked everyone to…

3. Dress as a character from one of the nominated movies: They can take that as literally or figuratively as they like. Dressing up is always a great conversation starter, whether you come as a space alien or historical figure.

4.Try pot-luck: Ask your guests to bring a dish tied to one of the nominated pictures.

5. Make it a benefit: If you want a more public-style viewing, start by asking a local bar or restaurant to donate the space for an evening. Then publicize the event and cause, and go as out-there with it as your event’s budget allows.

6. Make everyone a voter: Print ballots of all the categories, and have guests fill out their expected winners. Give a prize after each award – little statues or even DVDs – or award a grand prize at the end of the night.

7. Don’t forget the snark: We love to dish about the famous, the beautiful and the horribly dressed. My favorite: I remember someone pointing to an award-winner’s peculiar ensemble and dryly noting, “She made that.”

8. Remember the bottom line: “If any element starts to not be fun – can it,” Sticklin says. Focus on your guests and having a good time.

Finally, if you’d rather go out to a public viewing and let someone else do all the work, check your community media for suggestions. There’s bound to be something in just about any city. No surprise that Los Angeles is bubbling with events. Take a look here.

Pick your comfort level of fabulosity and get set for the big night.

Now, the envelopes, please…