By LUMA MUHTADIE
Globe and Mail Update

The stars seem to have all the fun on Oscar night.

Gliding along the red carpet under the warm glow of an evening California sun; posing and pouting for the paparazzi as millions of adoring fans look on.

Now cut to you, in the bowels of a brutally cold Canadian winter, huddled alone in front of the TV in your Sunday night comfies, hoping the glamour you behold will bring some sparkle to your February blahs.

Of course, there is a way you can put yourself at the centre of this year's fun: by playing host to your own Oscar extravaganza. And here are a few suggestions to make your party take off.

Invitations

  • Send your friends an e-vite (electronic invitation) with an option for them to RSVP
    Or, if you prefer snail mail:
  • Create invitations on your computer that look like movie tickets and include all the information about your Oscar-night fete
  • Hand-draw a stencil of an Oscar statuette, then trace multiple copies on gold paper for invitations
  • You can mail each invitation out in large envelope with waxed seal or brightly coloured ribbon...and the invitation goes to...

Atmosphere

  • Buy, rent, or make a red carpet out of fabric and roll it out on the walkway leading to the front door, If the weather is bad on OScar night, keep the carpet indoors and roll it along the front foyer of your home, beginning at the front door
  • Play the soundtrack from your favorite Oscar-nominated movie(s) in the background as your guests arrive
  • Enlist a few of the guests to play the paparazzi and snap instant digital photos of your guests as they arrive at the party. You can download the photos onto your computer and play them during the commercials, or put together a gallery and send it to your friends at work the next day
  • Make up movie-style posters on your computer using scanned photos of the Oscar-nominated movies, and incorporating your guests' names as stars or producers. Mount them onto a large black background and hang them around the room(s) where your guests will be congregating
  • Dangle unwound rolls of film from your ceiling
  • Create large silver and gold star cut-outs and hang them on the doors to various rooms inside the house
  • Buy star-shaped soaps for the guest bathroom
  • Set up a viewing area with folding chairs and a large screen TV (or several throughout the party site) so everyone can follow along

Refreshments

Don't plan a sit down dinner: you'll need food that your guests can easily balance on their plates while standing or sitting in front of the television

  • Buy a styrofoam bust at an arts and crafts store, spray paint it gold and use it as the centrepiece of your buffet
  • Decorate your table with star confetti and glitter
  • Use silver, black and gold for your tablecloth and cocktail napkins
  • Buy a few bottles of champagne, but serve all drinks, hard and soft, in champagne glasses. If you don't have enough, ask each friend to bring along their favourite champagne glass
  • Use thick black Bristle board and white markers to make little clapboards describing the different foods on your spread
  • Serve Gourmet Popcorn in bags or boxes, just like at the movies. Try Spicy Cajun popcorn, Dilly Lemon Munch and Sweet Cinnamon Crunch
  • Arrange mixed baskets of toasted pita, taro chips, tortillas, crackers and crispbread alongside an assortment of cheeses and Homemade Dips (http://www.greatpartyrecipes.com/partydiprecipes.html
  • Create a Spago-style restaurant by providing your guests with plain pizzas and an assortment of standard and gourmet toppings (smoked oysters, prosciutto, goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, olives and grilled veggies)
  • Scatter small glass bowls of movie candy -- M&Ms, Licorice and Junior Mints --around the viewing area

Alternatively, you can choose one of the Best Picture nominees to be the theme for your party and plan your décor and menu accordingly

For a Lost in Translation party, for example, you could:

  • Use square-shaped tableware and chopsticks
  • Arrange large bouquets of bamboo plants around the room
  • Hang paper lanterns from the ceiling
  • Add origami accents to the bathroom and buffet
  • Put sushi and sashimi (don't forget the ginger and wasabe), vegetable tempura and edamame (steamed soya bean pods) on the menu
  • Include warm sake or plum wine, Japanese beer (Asahi and Kirin), as well as hot and cold green tea at the bar

Betting

Have fun predicting the winners and losers in each of the categories.

  • Hand out Ballots and pencils well before the ceremonies begin to give guests enough time to make their picks In each category
  • One way to do it that keeps everyone in until the end:
    Charge $5 or $10 for each ballot. Contestants give every nominee in every category a point value... 5 down to 1. The movie or person you think has the best chance of winning gets 5 points, the least gets 1.

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 5 Lost in Translation 4 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World 1 Mystic River 3 Seabiscuit 2

    If Mystic River were to win, the person with this ballot would get three points; another person might get five; another two. By the end of the party, almost everyone is in the pool, and the last few categories get really exciting. The first-place person would win all the money in the pool, but as host you could offer gifts for the runners up. Gifts could include DVDs of last year's Oscar winners, movie theatre passes or video store rental certificates, or a CD of an Oscar-nominated film soundtrack

© 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.