Hollywood's elite are gathering in Los Angeles tonight for the Academy Awards. If you're hosting your own viewing party, here are some tips on how to keep your guests flush with Oscar-themed food, drinks and challenging trivia, courtesy of Dan Shapiro. He's a big-time movie buff and co-owner of Modern Bite Bakery in Los Angeles, and he knows how to host festive Oscar parties.
Snacks To Pair With Best Picture Bets
Check out NPR's Best Picture Cheat Sheet for more on the nominees.
Midnight In Paris
Top a small wheel of brie with a mixture of 4 tbsp marmalade, 2 tbsp chopped almonds and 2 tbsp chopped dried apricots. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, and serve with crackers or a sliced baguette.
Rub tuna steak with sesame seeds. Heat sesame oil in a skillet and sear the tuna for two to three minutes each side. Slice thinly and serve on cucumber slices or crackers, drizzle with soy sauce and wasabi.
Bacon Wrapped Dates
Stuff pitted dates with small cubes of blue cheese. Wrap each date with bacon, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until bacon is crispy.
Pigs In A Blanket
Wrap mini cocktail hot dogs in puff pastry. Bake and serve with yellow mustard.
Start with chilled champagne, ready at the door. For a special twist, add a drop of Chambord or peach syrup to each glass before pouring. For a budget alternative, use sparkling white wine with macerated strawberries.
Once the viewing begins, mix up a fun retro cocktail: mint juleps (mint leaf, bourbon, sugar and water) or a blended fruity rum drink like a scorpion (rum, brandy, lemon juice and orange juice).
Create a music playlist made up of original score and song nominees and/or past song and score winners to play as guests arrive.
Print out ballots and assign point values to each category, i.e., Best Movie = 10 points, Sound Design = 2 points, etc. All ballots must be completed and turned in during the red carpet pre-show. Have one guest be the official score keeper. You can use the Academy Awards' 2012 ballot pdf or create your own ballot.
List the years 2000-2010 vertically on a piece of paper with three columns across top: Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Actress. The winner is the person with the most correct answers. (Oscars.go.com has lists of past winners.) You can also have guests write down the names of the 10 most recent Oscar hosts.
Dressing The Part
Invite guests to dress up in their red carpet finest and set up a paparazzi line at the door, taking pictures as they arrive. These can be fun follow-up emails the next day. Or, you can invite guests to dress up themed to their favorite movie or character — not full costumes, but clever interpretations.