On Feb. 24, everything that Hollywood does best comes together: movies, awards, glamour and epic parties. Hosting an event around the Oscar telecast removes a lot of the elements a host may worry about: guests have something to do – watch the show; guests have conversation starters – debates about the worthiness of the nominees and the winners; and party themes are readily available. But, there is one element that can destroy an Academy Awards party: kids.
Children are, by nature, equal parts eruptive and disruptive. They also tend to be less interested in movies about senility, terrorism and musical renditions of failed political uprisings of the 19th century; therefore, the thoughtful host will create Fun Things for Kids to Do in the Other Room. Here are my suggestions:
Red carpet. As guests arrive, greet them with a microphone in hand and ask Who Are You Wearing? Once a couple of kids arrive, hand them the mic and let them do the interviewing.
Paparazzi. Have a dress up station full of fancy clothes like feather boas, costume jewelry, play makeup for the girls and scarves, clip on ties and fake mustaches for the boys. Also throw in clothes appropriate to the nominated films – like an Abe Lincoln hat, a garbage bag vest and a Tiger Halloween costume. The kids can take turns taking pictures of each other and everyone on Instagram will think you’re throwing the greatest party ever.
Go for the gold. Reinvent the Mummy Wrap game where, instead of racing to wrap themselves up to the neck in toilet paper, kids use gold-colored wrapping paper (look for marked down Christmas gift wrap).
Set up stations related to the one Oscar category kids can get into: Best Animated Picture. For instance, for Wreck It Ralph, get those cardboard bricks where kids can create a structure where Wreck It Ralph and Fix It Felix Jr can go at it again and again. Or how about build your own Sugar Rush car? Get all kinds of candy, particularly round and sticky kinds like gumdrops, marshmallows, peanut butter cups and round hard candies, as well as graham crackers for the car body. You’ll also need toothpicks so if the kids are too young, they’ll need supervision….which leads to another great idea…
Hire a babysitter to wrangle the kids while the parents enjoy the party. Maybe our favorite idea on the list?
When it comes to food, owner and event planner Cheryl Perez of Los Angeles-based Cheryl and Angelo Catering says it’s tempting to be ambitious in creating an Oscar menu, but when the party involves kids, keep it simple. For instance, she recommends a popcorn bar where kids can serve themselves and a few movie-inspired specialty drinks for adults and non-alcoholic beverages for kids. As for food, Perez says, "Do the same menu for kids and adults – finger foods like pigs in a blanket, sliders, French fries – but then add different dipping sauces inspired by the movie so you can do something fun and fancy." Food not only serves as nourishment, but becomes an activity in itself. Whiny kid? "Argo eat some hummus."
Of course, we’ve got a week and a half before the Oscars. Here are movies to enjoy with your kids.
1. Escape from Planet Earth. The first animated movie for little kids since Thanksgiving! An alien gets stuck on Earth, giving the audience a chance to look at the silly things we do on this planet from an outsider’s perspective.
2. Beautiful Creatures. It’s a fantasy romance in the vein of Twilight, but reversed. It’s a movie about high school teens and the characters curse, tell lewd jokes and make out like high school teens. On the plus side, the cool kids read books.
3. Warm Bodies. When a zombie eats the brains of a young man, he absorbs his memories and his feelings, including being in love with a human girl. Even teen boys will appreciate this clever twist on Romeo and Juliet.
See what kids have to say about these movies at www.KidsPickFlicks.com , where all kids are movie critics.