Throwing an award show-themed party is not only an entertaining excuse to get together with friends, but it’s also a fun way to feel like a celebrity for one night. After all, there’s nothing like a glittery glass of champagne and fancy finger foods to make you feel like you’re right there with your favorite stars. Of course, you may not be the only one in the neighborhood throwing an Oscars-watching party. So, what can you do to take home the top prize for most glamorous gathering? Check out our tips for a party spread that’s sure to earn you the award for best hostess when you and your friends tune into the Academy Awards on February 24 on ABC.
1. Offer up tasting trays.
To make it easy for guests to enjoy their snacks, set out a stack of flat trays so people can put them on their lap, says Andrea Correale, founder of Elegant Affairs Caterers, who has planned events for Jimmy Fallon and Liam Neeson. “You can customize each by printing out a movie poster image to line each tray.” Or, use disposable trays like Chinet Classic White compartment trays.
Set up a help-yourself buffet: A glittering runner and shiny streamer banner add a touch of Hollywood to a buffet of snacks like layered dip in mini plastic bowls, cups of popcorn, and bite-sized empanadas, says party planner Monica Benavidez. Pro tip: Put your most special treat at the end of the table. “I always place the item I have least of in this spot— by the time guests get to it, their plates are pretty full and the item lasts longer,” says Benavidez.
Serve starry apps: Caprese bites are the perfect starter, says Seri Kertzner. The subtly sweet-and-salty flavor won’t overwhelm taste buds. Her easy recipe: Stack a slice of mozzarella, one cherry tomato, and a torn basil leaf. Stick a toothpick topped with a paper star through the stack and set out balsamic dressing for dipping.
Wow with festive flutes: Add flourish to dollar-store champagne glasses by sprinkling a hint of glitter on the stems, suggests Kertzner. Start by thoroughly washing and drying each glass, then wiping the stem with rubbing alcohol to remove any residue (which prevents glitter from properly adhering). Cover the bottom “bowl” of the flute with painter’s tape and coat the stem with spray adhesive. Holding the glass horizontally over a tray lined with newspaper, pour gold glitter over the glue, rotating the flute until covered. Let dry and remove tape before filling with drinks.
2. Time your menu to the broadcast.
Help keep guests’ energy up by spacing out your menu by awards category. Serve light bites through the first third of the show, then switch to heartier eats.
Win raves with a candy bar: When the show heads into yet another commercial break or wordy speech, perk up your guests with candy! Pro tip: Scoop up savings on candy with post–Valentine’s Day sales!
Tempt their taste buds with “red carpet cupcakes”: Once the category for Original Screenplay is announced, you’ll know you’re in the final third of the broadcast — time for dessert! Skip fussy recipes in favor of cupcakes, which are easier to eat while focused on the awards show, says Benavidez. To add a hint of color to store-bought red velvet cupcakes crumble one cupcake into a bowl and top each treat with the crumbs.
3. Stock your fridge like an Oscar caterer.
Although guests might polish off snacks early, the show might run long. Your secret weapon: puff pastry! “Keep a package defrosted in the refrigerator before any party,” says Barbara Brass, vice president of culinary sales for Wolfgang Puck Catering (the pros behind the official Oscars after-party). “You can quickly turn them into cheese twists, pigs in a blanket, or mini baked brie.”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.