Last Sunday was the cooking event of the year (in my house at least!) I’m talking about my annual Oscar’s party, which has somehow snowballed into an awesome tradition of fancy clothes and fancy food and more people than we can comfortably fit around our TV.
Learning from my experiments last year, I picked out a few of the dishes which worked best and chose a couple of new ones to try out, whilst also deliberately cutting back a lot on the variety. I carefully chose a range of foods which would provide a couple of options in each category of protein, vegetables, carbs and dessert, and which would also provide plenty of options for people with dietary restrictions (I was catering for gluten and lactose intolerance as well as low-carb diets).
The mini cottage pies made an appearance again because they were such a hit last year (and I haven’t forgotten I promised you the recipe) and I also decided to repeat the salmon, this time in cuter, endive leaves, because I liked having a lighter protein option. I did decide to make it appeal to more people by providing this honey, chile drizzle along with it.
For new dishes I decided I wanted a couple of vegetarian, gluten-free options so I experimented with mini tacos and mini leek & potato gratins. The potato recipe I will also share with you in a separate post (I promise it won’t take over a year this time!) but the tacos were super simple: I cut circles out of soft, corn taco shells, zapped them in the microwave until they were flexible, and then squashed them into a muffin tray. Baking them at 400F for 10-15 minutes was enough to make them crispy and hold their shape so I could use them as cups for this salsa I keep raving about.
I realized movies means popcorn and I wanted to make my own, drizzled with homemade toffee and chocolate, but sadly that was one of the things I cut back on in an attempt to stay sane. However, I did make this giant popcorn pot in black and gold to serve as an additional and functional decoration.
Ok the cake stand I promised in the title. Last year I really struggled for table space so I wanted something to help with that this year but I don’t have the budget or the storage space to buy a proper cake stand. In the end I came up with my own solution, made with plastic plates and plastic wine glasses. I painted the plates gold by hand (but you could use spray paint, as long as it’s designed for use on plastic) and then glued the base of the wine glasses to the underside of the plates with superglue. The key to this is that the glasses have removable bases so I can dismantle them for easier storage.
There are 2 downsides to this though. The painted plates aren’t food-safe so they’ll need to be covered. They’re also not very sturdy so I recommend only using them for light things, like cupcakes. My chocolate-covered fruit were a bit too heavy and we did have a few spills. For additional stability you could probably fill the cups with something heavy, like beads, sand or stones, and seal the tops to hold them in.
It really doesn’t take much in the way of decorations to convey a theme well. In addition to the gold charger plates and black tablecloth I already had, I just made a black and gold “menu” explaining the key to the symbols I used for the various dietary needs. I kept my little black and gold tent cards from last year and added new ones for the new dishes. These are great because they serve as decorations but they also let people know what food is so they don’t need to ask.
I’ve been seeing these 3D letters all over Pinterest and I totally fell for them so I splashed out on a set for myself and painted them gold. I figured a gold “party” was generic enough to be useable at pretty much all of my parties, especially the 2 I always host – Oscars and Christmas.
My final addition from last year are the 2 trophies that I made so the winners get a little more recognition. Each year I hand out prediction sheets and bingo cards from How About Orange which work wonderfully to provide that little extra entertainment and competition. The trophies are just “i”s (in a larger size that my “party” letters) painted black with an oscar painted on in gold. On the side, gold letter stickers mark what the trophy is for and on the back I can write the winner each year in gold pen.
Each year I upgrade my photo booth a little more (still didn’t iron it though!). This year’s backdrop is taken from last year’s Oscars logo, which I much prefer. I bought a roll of black paper and printed each letter on its own sheet of paper, colored it in gold and cut it out and glued it on the black paper. I also added a red bathmat to serve as a red carpet but I think I’m going to have to get another one for next year to make it wide enough. I also picked up a few more props, a tophat which I bought and gold glitter mustaches and bowties which I made.
If you have any ideas for ways I can make next year even better, I’d love to hear them!