So you want to throw an Oscars party…

Billy Porter in his iconic tuxedo dress at the Oscars Red Carpet 2019.
(Jay L. Clandenin / LA Times)

Tips and tricks to host an award-worthy event for The Academy Awards 2020.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year — awards season. And on Feb. 9, film and fashion lovers are gifted the most coveted and glamorous event of them all: The Academy Awards. Not only are the Oscars a perfect opportunity to honor our favorite movies and gawk at beautiful gowns, they’re also a good excuse to plan an epic viewing party.

Here’s how to host an Oscars screening that your friends will be talking about for years to come.

Send the invites: For a high-profile event like the Oscars, skip a casual text and opt for an official invite. A physical version is preferred — the winners’ names are still read off of cards, after all — but if you’re short on time, send it via email. Be sure to include a blank ballot (there are plenty available for free online) so guests can cast their votes prior to their arrival.

Must-see watch list: If you watched every single feature film nominated for an Oscar, you’d be in front of a screen for nearly 70 hours — so prioritizing is necessary. At the very least, ask guests to watch the nine films nominated for Best Picture before the big night.

  • Rent on Amazon, iTunes or FandangoNow: Parasite, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, Joker and Jojo Rabbit (available Feb. 4)
  • Stream on Netflix: The Irishman and Marriage Story
  • Watch in theaters: 1917, Little Women and Ford v Ferrari

Set the mood: Stick to a black, gold and red color scheme to achieve the ultimate Hollywood glam look. Stock up on themed decor like gold balloons, Walk of Fame star plates, film reel crepe streamers, and bulb string lights. And definitely don’t forget to roll out a red carpet, which you can buy online for as low as $10.

Dress to impress: Encourage partygoers to dress up as their favorite character, actor or director in a nominated film. Or if you want to spice up a traditional black tie, consider emulating a memorable red carpet look — there are endless photo galleries online to draw inspiration. Along with voting for Oscar categories, have attendees cast a vote for their favorite look in the room and give out an award for Best Dressed at the end of the night.

On the table: With so much happening, it’s best to avoid a sit-down dinner. Instead, whip up some finger foods like mini sandwiches, sausage rolls and quiches that can be enjoyed during commercial breaks or less interesting categories. You also can’t go wrong with a cheese board or chips and dip — and of course, don’t forget the popcorn.

Play a game: The Academy Awards are famous for lasting nearly four hours — not including the red carpet — so keep your guests engaged with activities throughout the evening. Along with keeping track of the winners, try playing Oscars bingo or a red carpet drinking game. Get creative!

How to watch: Unfortunately, if you don’t have ABC, you can’t watch the awards for free at 5 p.m. But you can access it with online subscription services like Hulu Live, Sling TV and AT&T Now. If you and your friends are just there for the fashion, tune into E! Live from the Red Carpet at 2 p.m. The Academy will also live stream the official Oscars pre-show on Twitter, featuring exclusive interviews, interactive elements with social media users, and more.

Parting gifts: Did you know every directing and acting nominee in 2019 received a $100,000 gift bag?! While you can’t give everyone a swag bag on that level, make sure they take home some party favors like mini bottles of champagne, (plastic) gold award trophies, or Polaroid photos snapped throughout the evening.

Alternative plans: If you don’t want to celebrate The Academy Awards at home (or don’t have a way to watch), head to an Oscars screening event in San Diego. Book a table for your crew at downtown’s Carté Hotel, where its Oscars “Best Dressed” rooftop viewing party will start at 3 p.m. The San Diego International Film Festival will also hold a black tie event at a private residence; details and tickets are available at

Oscar buzz: No party is complete without drinks! Here are a few “golden” cocktail options, and how to make them.

  • The Golden One: a raspberry lemon rose sparkling vodka drink. Muddle four raspberries in the bottom of mixing glass. Add ice, 1.75 ounces of Reyka Vodka, 0.75 ounces of fresh lemon sour and 0.24 ounces of Combier Rose Liqueur. Cap, shake and strain into a chilled glass, then pour in 1 ounce of sparkling wine and 2 ounces of club soda. Garnish with a raspberry and gold flakes.
  • Golden Ticket: a honey lemon tequila cocktail. Combine 1.5 ounces of Milagro Reposado Tequila, 0.50 ounces of Montelobos Mezcal Joven, 1 ounce of honey syrup and 1 ounce of lemon juice. Shake and strain over ice cubes into highball glass. Add 2 dashes of bitters on top, and garnish with a lemon wedge.
  • Golden Holiday: a simple gin and tonic. Add ice to a glass, pour in 2 ounces of Hendrick’s Gin, then 4 ounces of tonic water. Garnish with golden dusted cranberry balls (make with gold flakes).