What makes a great party on a big awards night so much fun? It probably has something to do with why we still go to packed movie theaters: We love a shared experience.
On Sunday, host a Oscars bash that celebrates our fascination with movie magic, celebrities and Hollywood mystique. To make it special, try some of these tips.
Set a dress code: Let your friends know they're in for a special night, and make it a dress-up affair. Or for something both glam and comfy, invite everyone to come in their fanciest lounge wear.
Kick it off with red carpet glam: Build a red carpet photo booth in your entryway, complete with red fabric, gold stars and topiaries and urge your guests to work it for the camera. To make it more fun, have photo-ready props handy, like oversized sunglasses, wigs and feather boas, and they'll do the rest.
Make it interesting: Bring the spirit of competition into your living room and hand out ballots, asking your guests to predict who's taking home gold statues. To enjoy the unpredictable fun of live TV, make up some bingo cards. Up the stakes and prepare a few swag bags for the winners. Some ideas: DVDs with winning movie titles of yore, movie theater passes, gourmet popcorn and locally made candies.
Get bubbly: Champagne is always in style with the rich and famous. Popping open some chilled bottles, such as Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut, will make your guests feel like A-listers, because this year, special edition bottles from the famed champagne maker will be also poured at the ceremony and after-party.
Serve delicious, sophisticated bites: Serving up platters of tasty hors d'oeuvres is always a simple but classy way to feed your stylish guests because it lets everyone eat, mingle and watch the show. This year, let your menu be inspired by Wolfgang Puck, the creator of the luxurious, over-the-top feast served at the awards show after-party. Try his recipe for Gougères with Gruyere.
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
31/2 ounces bread flour
2 extra-large eggs
31/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
1 extra-large egg
1 egg yolk
11/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
Fleur de sel
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set rack in the center of oven.
Insert paddle attachment in a stand mixer. In a heavy metal saucepot, combine the water, butter, cayenne and salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, add all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined to form a smooth paste. Return the pot to medium heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer.
Put the paste in the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix at medium speed for 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed until each is fully incorporated and stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the 31/2 ounces of grated gruyere and mix until incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe nickel-size mounds onto a non-stick baking sheet, or a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, 2 inches apart.
In a small bowl beat together the egg and egg yolk forming an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush each of the gougères with the egg wash. Sprinkle with grated gruyere cheese and a pinch of fleur de sel.
Bake the gougères on the center rack in the preheated oven until they are puffed and golden brown, about 18 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes about 75 bite-sized puffs.