By: Denise Harrison
Many of us watch red carpet events from afar, curled up on our couches in comfy sweats or PJs, snacking on Doritos and jalapeno cheese dip. But, hey! Get up, dust off the crumbs, and this time, create your own red carpet-themed gala.
You can host a red carpet event in honor of a movie-lover's birthday, as an Oscar night viewing party, to screen an old movie -- or for no reason at all other than the chance to dress up like stars. Here are 10 tips for treating your friends to an experience they'll never forget.
Of course you need a nice, long red carpet for your event -- so your guests can strut down the length of it in style. Roll the carpet out as far as it will reach from the entry to the event locale. If you're throwing the party at your house, run the carpet all the way from the curb to the doorway. If your party takes place at a rented venue like a luxury hotel ballroom or theater, run it from the entry point to the party room.
You can buy a red carpet runner at a local remnant or party supply stores, or you can find one online. They aren't too expensive; we found a 24-inch-wide by 15-feet-long runner online for about $9. Depending on how long you want your red carpet to be, you'll probably spend between $10 and $30.
To make the walk extra special, rent velvet ropes and posts to place on either side of the carpet. Find a local source to avoid shipping costs.
Pre-printed invitations for red carpet parties are available online; you'll find some shaped like film canisters, some adorned with Hollywood star motifs and some specially designed for an Oscar-themed event.
But if you're creatively inclined, you can design your invitations yourself using a computer graphics program. Inside the envelope, sprinkle confetti, or, even better, tiny metallic stars, which are widely available at party stores.
Sure, you could make things easy on your guests by calling for casual evening attire. But, come on -- it's a red carpet event! Why not challenge everyone to dress to the nines and orchestrate an event they'll remember for years?
There are two ways to approach this: You can make it a black tie event, with men expected to arrive in tuxedos and women in gowns. If you think your guests won't have tuxes and gowns at the ready, you might suggest a few costume or vintage stores where they can find affordable options. Alternatively, you can ask guests to come dressed as their favorite movie actors and actresses. The latter can make for a fun guessing game and encourage guests to mingle.
If the red carpet and velvet ropes aren't enough to indicate where the party is, place movie clapboard signs along the road. Outside, along the red carpet, energize the space with twinkling lights. They'll make it look like paparazzi are snapping away. You can also line the walkway with star-shaped helium balloons. And if space allows, install full-length mirrors along the walkway and inside, so the lights bounce everywhere and the decked-out guests can get a glimpse of how glamorous they look.
Inside the red carpet event venue, hang colored streamers (remember: Oscar is gold) as well as metallic ribbons and even film strip streamers. You can place cardboard cutouts of famous stars around the area, too, which make for fun photo opps.
If your dinner is a sit-down affair, sprinkle the tables with metallic star confetti, and use film canisters, film strips, fake Oscar statues and gold or silver Mardi Gras beads draped over giant champagne glasses for a touch of sparkle. Lastly, decorate the walls with movie posters.
If your red carpet event is not an Oscar night viewing party, you could go all out and hire a brass band or "big band" group for the red carpet entry, and have the band entertain throughout the actual party. Be sure the venue has ample space for a dance floor.
If your party is for watching the Oscars broadcast, you won't need music once the show starts, so you don't really need live performances. You can save money and emphasize the Oscar theme by playing movie theme songs over speakers placed along the red carpet.
Your home may be large enough to run red carpet from curb to doorway and accommodate a large number of guests. But if you have smaller home, it will limit the amount of guests who can enjoy such an extravaganza. Instead, many red carpet party hosts decide to host their events at larger venues -- a ballroom at a hotel, a local community center or even a local theater.
If you're throwing an Oscar-watching bash, be sure there are plenty of projectors and projection screens around the seating area, and you might even consider installing LCD panels at lobby areas, near bathrooms, and by the bar area to be sure no one misses a moment of the show.
Beyond the people attending your red carpet event, it's fun to add other unexpected attendees and even faux crashers to the mix.
Have a favorite funny friend, a local celebrity or a Joan Rivers look-alike be the red carpet interviewer. The interviewer grabs people as they walk by, shoves a mic in their faces and talks with them, just as it's done at televised red carpet events. Be sure a video camera and microphone capture the moments. You can post the videos on YouTube or put together a DVD for lots of laughs after the party.
No respectable red carpet event is without a paparazzi frenzy, and here's an opportunity to invite some unusual participation to fill these roles. Imagine inviting guests' children to serve as paparazzi! The kids will enjoy being involved in the event by snapping pics of their parents', and those shots will be memorable for years. The kids can then be whisked off to bed by the babysitter after the adults have walked the red carpet.
After they've walked the carpet, how else should guests be greeted but with a flute of champagne or sparkling water? Either have trays of bubbly placed just inside the venue so they can pick them up as they enter, or have caterers personally serve the champagne glasses on shiny trays. You can also rent a champagne fountain so guests can help themselves.
If this is an Oscar party, you have three hours to fill. Have caterers serve easy-to-handle hors d'oeuvres at the beginning of the party as guests mingle. For dinner, you can make it easy on yourself by hiring a catered buffet.
Whether your red carpet event is at home or at a theater watching the Oscars broadcast, it's a good idea to engage your guests with games. The most traditional Oscar night game is an Oscar ballot guessing game, in which the person who guesses the most correct winners wins. Oscar.com typically offers a free downloadable ballot (check there close to the date of the awards show).
Another very fun game, Oscar Bingo, is offered each year by the Oscars organization and a variety of other unrelated entities. For example, participants may blot their bingo cards when an Oscar winner's speech is interrupted, when a winner walks to the wrong side of the stage, or when they cry during their speeches.
What's a red carpet event without SWAG? You may have heard celebrities talk about SWAG -- the bags full of gifts they take home from events. But did you know that SWAG is the acronym for Stuff We All Get?
The stuff your guests will all get when they leave your party will allow them to remember a spectacular night. Consider placing gifts in a Hollywood-themed gift bag, or stuff a fake film canister with goodies. Gift selections might include a copy of the CD of the evening's soundtrack or an MP3 player loaded with that same playlist, glittery nail polish, movie passes, and lollipops shaped like awards, for example.