By ALISON LAPP
Who said Saturday night was the best time to party? Three of the nation’s highest-profile events, the Super Bowl, the Grammy awards and the Oscars, are all scheduled to take place on Sunday nights in February, and each one provides a great excuse to throw a fabulous themed party. You can watch all three at home with friends, serve great food and drinks, and play games to guess the winners. Invite your guests to come dressed in a ball gown worthy of the red carpet, and put together some easy decorations or centerpieces, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a fun evening. Here are some tips for the Grammys and Oscars ...
THE 49TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS
Feb. 11, 7 p.m.
Decorations: This is the least common awards-show party and planning it will take some imagination on the host’s part. ‘‘The important thing is to create an environment where there is a feeling of energy in the room,’’ said ME Productions President Hal Etkin. A good way to start is to pick a genre of music to organize the party around. A disco party, for example, could have a beaded curtain hung over the front entry, a disco ball and lava lamps in the main room and, of course, ’70s costumes for the partyers.
Refreshments: Sprinkle a buffet table with smiley-face confetti and provide tie-dye napkins and paper plates. Retro processed foods like macaroni and cheese (from the box, of course), Pop-tarts and Twizzlers work well with this theme. Great ’70s drinks include the tequila sunrise (tequila, orange juice and grenadine), the Harvey Wallbanger (vodka, Galliano and orange juice) and the pina colada (rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice).
Activities: During the slower parts of the ceremony, or during the endless commercials, try setting up a game of Grammy charades. Guests divide into two teams and each tries to guess as teammates silently act out the names of songs, bands or artists nominated for awards. The team that identifies the acts in the least amount of time wins. You could hand out iTunes gift certificates, CDs or music-store gift cards to the winners.
THE 79TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS
Feb. 25, 7 p.m.
Decorations: Oscar parties are where hosts really get to show off their ability to throw a classy, or mock-classy, shindig. A roll of red wrapping paper spread down the hallway serves as a perfect red carpet for guests, dressed as their favorite movie stars, to step onto as they enter. The host should be ready with a camera to photograph each person as he or she arrives. Set a table with candles and a dark tablecloth for a more formal atmosphere.
Refreshments: Classic cocktail-party snacks make a suitable spread for this event. Imagine what the Kennedys might have served at Camelot — fare dainty enough to keep Jackie glamorous, but hearty enough to satisfy John. Try pigs in a blanket, Swedish meatballs, bite-sized club sandwiches, mini-quiches and pastries. For drinks, think red, to match the carpet. An ‘‘Oscar punch’’ of ginger ale, raspberry sherbet and Champagne is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Activities: Another Oscar staple, now so famous it’s available for downloading from any number of Web sites, is Oscar Bingo. Make (or print out) a bingo card where each square represents a humorous incident that could happen at the Academy Awards, like ‘‘star cries while accepting award’’ or ‘‘walks the wrong way off stage.’’ To keep with the theme, use red markers to cross off each event as it happens. The first player to complete a row in any direction wins. A ‘‘dishrag,’’ or nice tea towel, makes a fun prize.
Here are a few suggestions for those sticky situations that can trip up even the most gracious host.
1. What do you do if the show runs so late that your guests are keeping you up past your bedtime? Adam Bluestein, author of ‘‘A Handbook for Hosts: A Practical Guide to Party Planning and Gracious Entertaining,’’ said, ‘‘These events always go much later than anyone expects, so if you’re hosting this type of party, you know what you’re getting into.’’ It’s not polite to ask people to leave early, he said, but you can get them headed out the door right when the show ends by serving coffee before it’s over and starting a subtle clean up as the night stretches on.
2. What’s a host to do when guests leave before their game cards are scored? ‘‘You want to make sure it’s fair,’’ Bluestein said. Hold on to the cards, score with the rest and, if necessary, distribute prizes the next time you see winners who left early.
3. How should a host accommodate both guests who want to watch the show seriously and those who’ll chat through the whole thing? If there’s space for it, setting up two viewing rooms is the easiest solution to that problem. If not, Bluestein recommends steering the talkers toward the food table or bar to help keep the space around the main event quieter.