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and the 
inner is... 
how to host a
fabulous Oscar party without a lot of fuss
by Carolyn Jones | 1 2 3

The group of friends I hang out with "claim" holidays. One has Valentine's Day (a laser-tag shoot-out), another has St. Patrick's Day (lots and lots of home-brewed beer), and another has New Year's (an elegant five-course dinner). It's a great way to share the burden of party planning and it lets everybody pick an occasion that fits their planning style. Since 1999, I've had "Oscar Night."

For my Oscar parties, which I host with my friend Becky, I try to keep things fun, stylish, and low-maintenance. After all, the show itself is the centerpiece. Everyone will be crowded around the TV for most of the night and won't want to break for a big meal or lots of elaborate party games. However, Hollywood events call for a certain amount of swank and flair. After five years of Oscar parties, I've figured out a formula to host a fabulous Oscar party without a lot of fuss.

I've already had more than half of my guests RSVP by using Evite. The website even has pre-themed Oscar invitations that you can e-mail to friends. Just drop in your address book and a few key details, and you're set.

Figure out what time you'd like your guests to arrive. I live in the Eastern time zone, so the Oscars start at 8 p.m. for me. Usually, I start the party a couple hours before that, because I know not all my friends will make it to the end. You'll have to make more food for an earlier start time, too.

Also, decide if you want your friends to dress up. You can ask them to come in red-carpet formal wear, or just come as they are. Do what you think will make everyone comfortable.

A quick and easy way to turn your place into a Hollywood haven is to run out to your local video rental store and ask for their leftover movie posters. They'll just throw them away otherwise. Tack up a few around your apartment.

You might also take some tips from Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Café. Dig around in your junk closet and find some "movie" memorabilia to stick on your walls. Sack your closet, your junk drawer and your kitchen for ideas. It takes just a little imagination to turn your old bridesmaid's dress into a glamorous Hepburn gown. Hang up an old kitchen knife and you've got the murder weapon from Psycho. And, you may know those are your sunglasses, but pretend they're Will Smith's Ray-Bans from Men in Black and your guests will play along.

The key to making your stuff look glitzy is presentation. Make sure you pair your item with a fancy note card explaining which movie it comes from. You should also try to find some picture frames to display the items. If you cannot find frames in the size or price you need, black or brown electrical tape can be used to "frame" the item instead.

Want to give your guests a real red carpet experience? Just take a red blanket, fold it into a rectangle, and place it at your doorway. You can also go to your local crafts or fabric store and get a couple of yards of bargain basement red cloth.

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