For those who haven't been invited to the ultraexclusive before- and after-parties at the 86th Annual Academy Awards, take heart: There are businesses and party planners ready to help you create your own golden moments at home so that you can be the one in the spotlight.
The Academy Awards is the latest in the Hollywood awards season that has generated interest and sales for party supplies, according to Julia Darrenkamp, spokeswoman for Party City, the largest party retailer in North America with more than 800 locations and online services.
“Viewing parties are very on-trend right now. People really like getting dressed up and entertaining. I'm even thinking about having an Oscar party this year,” Darrenkamp said. “I think the parties are fun and this year's nominated movies really lend themselves to entertaining.
“Red carpet gatherings really do lead up to the emerging party season, which then will follow with Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day, before there's graduation and all those summer parties.”
The top Party City Hollywood-themed party supplies and decorations include life-size cardboard cutouts of celebrities and movie scenes; star trophies; party tableware; and working black-and-white plastic clapboards that let hosts fill in areas for their blockbuster party production information. And balloons — round, star-shaped and even camera-shaped — do wonders as decorations, especially anchored by shiny silver top hats and lining your entryway, Darrenkamp said.
“With so many DIY and Pinterest sites there are all kinds of ideas for parties you can host at home and you can do that without having to spend a lot of money,” Darrenkamp said.
“We offer plenty of top hats, tiaras, boas and other glamorous accessories that you can put on and have your photos taken. The idea is to have fun and I think now that the economy is coming back a bit, people want to party.”
Laurie Milhiser of Ontario and a group of her friends have been putting on Academy Awards viewing parties for years; she has collected and saved the themed items.
“I have a lot of decorations I've accumulated during the years,” Milhiser said. “I have a poster I hang in our entryway that looks like a red carpet leading to something. And I use folded red tablecloths to create the image of walking from the entryway into the poster. I have stuff that hangs on the walls — mostly photos of cameras. And I have some three-dimensional things that look like lights that I hang around. I think I have just about everything they sell.”
Milhiser tries to plan the food segment of the party around the films nominated, so this year she's thinking of doing something with corn to honor “Nebraska” and red meat for “The Wolf of Wall Street.” For entertainment, her fellow Hollywood lover Virginia Riley prints ballots and partygoers bet on the outcomes.
“Anyway, we have fun,” she said. “The guests are pretty much the same as those who come to our Super Bowl party. It's kind of football for the guys, Oscars for the girls. We start early enough to check out the red carpet entrance to see the dresses and go from there.”
Barbara Hinrichsen is the owner of The Theatre Co. in Upland. Her massive warehouse is home to 155,000 costumes as well as small accessories like gloves and tiaras. Her business caters to the party animal in everyone, but every February and March business increases a bit to accommodate the love of Hollywood.
“We're busy all year, but, yes, business involving everything Hollywood increases at Oscar time,” Hinrichsen said. “People like putting parties together in their homes, getting dressed up, planning menus around movie themes, just like I used to do. But I'm an actor and director, too, in addition to The Theatre Co. so I don't do those home parties anymore. They're too much like work,” she joked.
The company's phone starts ringing at the beginning of the year with inquiries about nominated movies, outfits and accessories. Costume rentals range from $30 to $65 for a full costume with reservations taken a month in advance. You can get costumes at the last minute, but no alterations can be done.
Halloween remains the busiest time of the year, but Hinrichsen said she caters to parties and special events all year long and there's something about Hollywood, beyond awards season, that people never seem to get tired of celebrating.
“People like to dress up like old-time Hollywood or to reflect the nominated movies,” she said. “People love to put out the red carpet and have people take photos of them like the paparazzi. For the night of your party, you're the star.”
Nikki Yep of Event Solutions in Santa Monica provides full event planning and catering, specializing in corporate parties, but it has also been involved with movie premieres and large special events. It is not handling any of this year's Academy Awards parties.
“At the most recent 300-guest movie premiere, we had a red carpet, lighting, a DJ, lounges, full catering and beverages, valet, security, a fire marshal on-site, portable bathroom facilities, janitorial services and generators,” Yep said.
“We handled all coordination and logistics for the event. The client was a small independent film for foreign distribution and the cost was around $50,000.”
You can bet $50,000 is a bit above the price range for most of us, but Yep said home parties are popular and, more importantly, fiscally possible.
“Small home gatherings can be great. But, even with a 50-person event, you have to think about food and beverage. Will it be tray-passed or displayed hors d'oeuvres? Will it be a sit-down or buffet dinner?” she said.
“Even small parties can be extravagant by adding a theme or bringing in entertainment, a photo booth, or those tray-passed hors d'oeuvres I mentioned,” she continued.
“Hollywood theme parties are popular because Los Angeles is the heart of where the entertainment business is. Los Angeles revolves around stars and the glitz and glamour that comes with them. If we can't live it daily, the next best thing is to be it for a night.”
Bravo Productions of Long Beach has been creating award-winning parties for decades, starting out originally in designing and building Tournament of Roses parade floats before turning its attention to producing spectacular events, including the 75th anniversary celebration of Farmers Market in Los Angeles and an opening gala at Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.
Partner Tom Neighbors said Hollywood-themed parties have lessened during the past few years at his company, but they still do at least two every year.
“Everyone loves the glitz and glamour of it all,” he said. “Who doesn't like being the center of attention?”
OSCAR PROPS, ETC.
Wisconsin-based Celebrate Express is an online store where hosts can order Hollywood-related products including:
• Red carpet ($6.50)
• Black-tie lighting props wall add-on ($6);
• 40-inch Hollywood room roll featuring stars ($20);
• Peel-and-place star stickers for your own walk of fame ($4);
• Red- and white-striped popcorn boxes ($2);
• VIP goody bag ($3);
• Hollywood party yard sign ($4);
• VIP party pass lanyards ($2.50)
• Solid-color plates and dinnerware in black and gold
• Pirate chests and pirate flags for “Captain Phillips”
• Cowboy hat and chaps for “Dallas Buyers Club”
Oscar party tips
Bravo Productions partners Tom Neighbors and Greg Jenkins give these Oscar party tips:
Think outside the box: Creative use of large bolts of fabric can be effective backdrops or red carpets. Decorate old picture frames from thrift shops and use them as serving trays. Turn old costume jewelry into napkin holders or table decorations.
If you're having a home party: Drape old curtains around your big-screen television and pull the look together with drawstrings. And don't forget the magic of lights. Buy an inexpensive spotlight and aim it directly at your guests. “Lights and fabric can really give you a big bang for your buck,” Neighbors said.
Be careful what you call your party: Oscar is a registered trademark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, that city's Gene Siskel Film Center's annual fundraising party with a Hollywood Oscars theme was forced to rename its get-together because the word “Oscar” can't be used to promote a non-Academy event. The Chicago party was going to be one of 50 so-called official “Oscar” parties held across the country. Academy officials nixed all of them.