You know that we love the Oscars in the household (Danny loves them even more and you can discover why by listening to his weekly podcast with our friend Mike). It's a family holiday and we decorate accordingly. This year was our 16th annual Academy Awards party (click here to see last year's party pictures) and I think this may have been my favorite one yet. It was one that I was able to enjoy so much because I feel like I had more time than ever to just sit and socialize. Usually, I'm in the kitchen with so much prep and clean-up, but this year, I planned ahead and cut away at the party little-by-little each day leading up to the party. It was awesome.
We get just about a month to plan our event. The day the nominations come out, Danny and I sit down and brainstorm for about half an hour on menu items. From there, the party takes shape. I've got ridiculous names of dishes to go by, and then it's finding the recipes and some consistency in those recipes to make a meal out of them. That's my favorite part of the party, mind you. I love the menu planning.
Before we get to the menu, I'll show you how we decorated the house. I took a good three days to decorate and just took my time. I wanted there to be a little something everywhere you looked, without it feeling overwhelming. Here's our mantel. Per usual, we have the banner of the best picture nominees. On the mantel are the prizes for the night. We do an Oscar pool and the person who scores the most points (each category is assigned points, with more points given to the technical awards to make it really challenging) wins the pool minus $10. Second place winner, wins two movie tickets. Third place and last place win $5. Each person is awarded this popcorn container also filled with movie candy.
This year, we really stressed the importance of playing the pool. Our guests are certainly more engaged in the show if they complete a ballot. Not to mention, it makes playing all the more fun when the stakes are so high.
We tried a new game this year as well. I made a dozen nametags with actor nominee names that had the highest likelihood of winning in their category. I handed these nametags out at the beginning of our party and explained that holding one was sort of like hot-potato. At each commercial break, our guests who had nametags, had to give their nametag to someone who didn't have one. At each commercial break until the Oscars were awarded, our guests passed along the nametags. The person who was holding the Oscar winner from the night received an award from us; a box of microwave Movie popcorn and a box of candy to go along with it. Winners needed to be present to win, so as guests left, they had to hand their nametag to someone. This added a fun social aspect to our party and a little more excitement. I have to admit that Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton were two highly coveted nametags, as was Julianne Moore.
Over the years, I've collected actual programs from past Academy Awards shows. These are always so fun to look through.
My daughter, Josie, was so excited about the Animated Features that they got their own little banner. Check out how she planned the "kid portion" of our Academy Awards party here.
We usually order the advertising poster for the show, but this year the Academy decided to do something different with their poster. They wanted to make it a more social. Viewers had to "share" their favorite poster and the one with the most shares would win the official poster spot. As a result, they didn't have any posters printed, but will shortly. So, instead of the poster this year, I made another banner that included many of the fun prints that were up for votes.
Chocolate Oscars are handed out to everyone as they leave. No one is to leave our party without receiving their very own Oscar.
I try to leave no space empty and had some fun decorating above the cabinets. Simple, but effective.
These are two of my favorite Academy Awards posters. The left is Julie Andrews, the right is Cary Grant.
This was the dessert table. Before dinner was served, it was set up with fun candies to get us started. Read the corresponding signs carefully. All of our food is, of course, themed appropriately. I picked up the red frames from IKEA last year, and love them!
As guests arrived, Danny attempted to have them pose "as" an Oscar. This was our daughter Josie's idea, and we love it! My mother and father-in-law helped to create it and I think it turned out wonderfully!
I failed to take a picture of the appetizers which were: Guacamoleficient and Chips (Guacamole/Maleficent), Selami (Salami Cheese Ball & crackers/Selma), Mark Ruffle-o's (Mark Ruffalo), Imitation Crab Dip (Imitation Game).
Dinner is served!
Benedict Cucumberbatch (Cucumber Salsa/Benedict Cumberbatch)
Julienne More (Julienned Vegetables/Julianne Moore)
Eddie Redemame Salad (Quinoa Salad with Edamame/Eddie Redmayne)
Tangerines & Emma Stone Fruit Tray (Tangerines, Nectarines & Plums and other fruit/Tangerine, Emma Stone)
Mark Buffalo Wings (Buffalo Wild Wings/Mark Ruffalo)
Bird, Man, Eatin' Hawk (More wings, different sauce/Birdman, Ethan Hawke)
Po' Boyhood Sliders (Shrimp Po'Boys/Boyhood)
Ore-Ida Potato Tots and Patricia Croquettes (Tator Tots and Potato Croquettes/Ida, Patricia Arquette)
Big Hero 6 Subs (Subway subs/Big Hero 6)
Now, for the dessert. I always try to make something special for dessert. Last year it was Baked Nebraska, I made a wedding cake for Rachel Getting Married, and tried to recreate the house in Up out of cake. I always like this part of the meal to be fun and whimsical and throw our guests over the edge of fullness. ;) So as we were brainstorming, Danny was hesitant to even bring up Mendl's cakes from the Grand Budapest Hotel. He knew how much work they'd be. So I asked him to show me what he was talking about and once I saw them, I knew I had to make them. One for each guest. It would be magic!!
I would try to recreate this spectacle!
So I made about 100 pata a choux (puffs) in three different sizes; small, medium and large. I filled them with from-scratch chocolate mousse and dipped them in a color-coordinated glaze. I did some piping and continued to stack the puffs, which was the most challenging part. They loved to tip over!
But our 1 degree garage was a Godsend for keeping these preserved for the party. Once stacked, I left them alone overnight and the following morning, I piped the borders and topped with a piece from a Bridge mix.
Right before a commercial break, as our guests were watching the show, we filled the dessert table with Mendl's cakes. At the commercial break, they turned around and saw this spectacle. I was absolutely giddy with out excited they were. And these cakes were delicious; a great end to the evening!
As for our winners, here's Dan who won first place!
I came in third place and my Godson, Tanner came in last place. Nick (who's not pictured), came in 2nd.
We had a GREAT night! I'm already looking forward to next year!