Friday, February 24, 2012

AND THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE!: Industry Insiders' Tips For Hosting The Best Oscars Party At Home

When it comes to awards shows, America has a carpet addiction. In some fashion circles, it’s more like a cult following. If rocking the red carpet at this year’s 84th Annual Academy Awards® is high on your To Do list, there are plenty of parties that will satisfy your inner-exhibitionist. If you prefer to keep things more, well, private, why not wow your fans and woo your critics with an intimate Oscars celebration at home?

Luxe File Chicago asked four of its favorite event insiders for their secrets to throwing, and dressing for, the ultimate Oscars party (hot party date not included). Here’s what they had to say:

Debi Lilly

Turn Your Place Into A Party Pad: Roll out the red carpet - outside at the entrance, even inside down the hallways. It is as easy as using a throw rug, a few yards of linen or cotton duck, or removable, static cling contact paper rolls.

Create An Oscar Theme: Use red and gold and velvet ropes to achieve instant Oscar glam. Red linens on tables, red florals in gilded bases, red flickering candles, gold statuettes throughout your home (available at party stores), and gold platters filled with food and drink.

VIP Guest List & Invites: Invite friends, family, and neighbors. As your guests arrive, place printed “And the Oscar goes to...” category nametags on their backs. Playing an old-fashioned game of “Yes or No”, guests try to figure out who they “are” (actor, actress, director, movie, and more).

Good Eats: Oscars-inspired nibbles

Notable Nibbles: I love to theme the menu to the movies that are up for awards. This year, serve Hawaiian food and drink for The Descendents, French for The Artist, New York gastro wagons and street carts for Extremely Loud, and, of course, southern-style comfort food like rich chocolate French silk pie for The Help.

Lights. Cameras. Cocktails! Serve creative cocktails your guests will love. Here are two suggestions:

“Red Carpet” – Combine equal parts antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice with Prosecco and garnish with a thinly sliced lemon wheel, floating inside.

“Oscar-ita” - Combine equal parts golden mango juice, ginger ale, tequila, limeade, and a light beer (like Corona).

VIP Party Favors. Golden or yellow-colored candies, like Lemon Sours or Lemonheads, boxed in clear, acrylic square boxes and personalized with custom-printed “Red Carpet” labels.

Best Hostess Attire. A gown worthy for the red carpet – but of course. 

Adam Seger

Make It Memorable: Creating Cocktails Your Guests Will Love. They have to be simple to execute, strikingly beautiful and prepared with the best ingredients you can. Here is my recipe for the exclusive Champagne cocktail of this year’s Governor's Ball-

"Möet's Red Carpet Glamour"
1. Fill a chilled Champagne flute half way with ice.
2. For each flute, stir 1 ounce Fresh Squeezed Sour Mix (see recipe below) and Hum Botanical Spirit with fresh ice to chill.
3. Strain into the flute and top with Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Reserve.
4. Garnish with a single rose petal.
5. Continually refresh as you wish with Moët & Chandon Imperial as the Champagne will float on top of the HUM Sour. Its effervescence will deliver HUM's heady cardamom and Kaffir lime notes.

Fresh Squeezed Sour Mix Preparation:
1. Make a syrup with 1.5 cups sugar and 1 cup hot water.
2. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Add 1 cup of fresh lime juice and 1 cup fresh lemon juice and refrigerate.
4. May be prepared the night before.
(Syrup may be substituted with 1 pint agave nectar.)

Need a visual? Check out Adam Seger’s Red Carpet Fizz demo HERE.

Bar Essential Basics. Fresh, hard ice (not melty). Fresh citrus. Cutting board. Sharp knife. Boston Shaker. Hawthorne Strainer. Tongs. Zester. Channel knife. A thick, fat muddler (NO paint on it please and, yes, size matters here.)

Perfect Pairings: Tasty Bar Nibbles. Pick an ingredient in your dish and use it in your cocktail as a flavor bridge.

 Celebration Staple: BUBBLY!

Wine 101: Great Wines For Any Guest. Dry Rose and Champagne

Do-It-Yourself Bartending Basics. Go to Hum Spirits for an array of delicious and simple-to-prepare drink recipes.

Hiring a Bartender: What You Need To Know. Everyone loves eye candy, so looks are a bonus, but first and foremost, anyone you hire should be friendly, engaging, and like good food. If they have these qualities, you can guide them to make nice, simple cocktails.

Jeff Schear
Taking Paparazzi-Perfect Photos. Celebrity photographers take three basics photos on the red carpet: full-length, mid-length, and a headshot. Full-length photos highlight the dress and shoes; headshots focus on the shoulders and face. Also remember to make sure the color balance on your camera is set correctly. Select the light bulb setting if you’re shooting indoors and the sun icon for exterior photos.

Posing Like A Supermodel. WOMEN: Create dimension by pointing your chest at a 45 degree angle, cross one leg in front of the other, square your chin towards the camera and tilt your head. MEN: Point one shoulder slightly off-center from the camera, plant one foot forward, then lift your chin up and away from your body and towards the lens. 

 Click! Cameron Diaz strikes a perfect pose

Host(ess) Tips for Getting Camera-Ready. For flawless-looking skin, swap translucent makeup for primer and a creamy foundation. Take the proper precautions when wearing shear fabrics - powerful flashes can go right through fabrics and expose what is, or isn’t, underneath. Don’t get caught in a wrinkled tux, have your suit pressed or dry-cleaned.

Camera or iPhone. Since an iPhone’s flash isn’t strong enough to expose imperfections in the makeup or clothing, colors won’t be absolutely correct and pictures might have a soft, yellow hue. A camera is your best bet, even if it’s just a small point-and-shoot. Tip: If you are going to use an iPhone, try taking photos from an elevated position – it makes the subject appear thinner.

Hiring a Photographer: What You Need To Know. A professional red carpet photographer can be expensive so consider hiring a photography student or novice photographer who's work you like. If you know someone in the media industry, ask them. Chances are, they can recommend a pro who will fit your size and budget.

Jeff Schear’s Shutterbug Suggestions. Capture what your subjects are wearing by shooting them vertically. Mix things up by taking posed and candid photos. Remember to snap some pics of the food, drinks, and decorations before your guests arrive. 

Eric Himel

How to Select the Perfect Dress. If you are dashing around, you don't want to trip. Opt for knee-length or t-length. It’s important to stand out, so choose a vibrant color and not black. The biggest fashion faux pas for a host(ess) is to be mistaken for a guest.

Walking the Red Carpet: Perfect Party Shoes. Find comfort in a sexy stiletto with a platform, wedge, or a thick heel. Remember physics? The larger the surface of the heel at the bottom, the more it will distribute your weight.

Wondering what to wear? 
Eric Himel weighs in.

Ultimate Accessories. Rhinestone headbands are big now and do double-duty by keeping your hair in place and out of the food. If you can't decide on what jewelry to wear, pick two pieces and make sure they don't match.

Hair & Makeup Must-Haves. Awards shows don't mean you always have to wear it in an updo. You can still look elegant with your hair down. Practice the look a day before so you aren't frazzled at your party.

Cocktail? Creative? Casual? Defining the Party Dress Code. Yes, yes, and yes. Make sure the look is unique and all you. People can smell when you are trying to be inauthentic.

Menswear 101: Fashion Advice for Guys. Make as much of an effort as your gal. Be creative with accessories – cufflinks, ties, and shoes - just don't be too humorous. Be a grown-up.

Favorite Shopping Destinations. Some of the best treasures can be found in in the dress department at Bloomingdale's, consignment/vintage stores, or “shop” a friend's closet and let her do the same in yours.

Host(ess) Tips for Getting Camera-Ready. Practice your smile in a mirror. Keep pressed powder close for touch ups. Opt for a confident pucker and stay away from the 'Siamese-twin-attached-at-the head-or-cheek' look with your best-y.

Hiring a Stylist: What You Need To Know. Just like going to a hair stylist, pull the looks you like from magazines to show them. Communicate what you are trying to exude - 'pretty', 'sexy', 'edgy' - and share which areas of your body you want to showcase or keep covered up.

Posted by Sally & Kerry Shorr

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