Throw a Blockbuster Oscars Bash on an Indie Budget

There's still time to pull off an award-winning party, and you can do it for next to nothing.
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Written by Laura McMullen
Assistant Assigning Editor
Throw a Blockbuster Oscars Bash on an Indie Budget

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Did your invite to Madonna’s Oscars party get lost in the mail? Well, now that you don’t have to schlep to Los Angeles, you can throw your own bash for Sunday’s Academy Awards — and you barely have to spend any money.

Here’s how to pull off a fun, inexpensive Oscars party:

Delegate food duties

Potlucks have been saving hosts money since Barbra Streisand sported a bouffant and accepted her Oscar for “Funny Girl.” Ask guests to bring dishes to share so you don’t wind up spending half your paycheck on a party and half the party in the kitchen.

And get creative. Give awards for the best dishes, or have guests bring food inspired by this year’s nominees. Free dessert idea: Lady (Bird) Fingers.

Make a festive punch

Ask guests who aren’t up for making a dish to bring a beverage to share. Supplement with a simple champagne-based punch. (Here’s a highly rated recipe that calls for only a bottle of champagne, ginger ale and frozen strawberries.) Your guests will feel glamorous sipping on a bubbly beverage. You’ll feel smart buying just a bottle or two of sparkling wine and diluting it with inexpensive mixers.

Take advantage of free entertainment options

Of course, the main event will likely be the awards themselves, which begin at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. Here are other, affordable activities for your guests:

Play fashion critic. Watch red carpet coverage on E! or ABC in the couple of hours leading up to the ceremony.

Cast your vote. While guests “ooh and “aah" over Lupita Nyong'o’s outfit and your friend’s “Feta Gerwig” dip, have them complete their own Oscar ballots. (You’ll find plenty of free worksheets if you search “printable 2018 Oscar ballot.”)

Reward the person who chooses the most winners with pooled money. (Stick to a couple of bucks per participant.) Or, repurpose an old trophy into an Oscar statue. Whichever route you go, demand an acceptance speech.

Stream a best picture winner. If you want to make a day of it, binge award-winning movies in the afternoon and as guests arrive. Here’s where to stream past best picture winners:

Amazon Prime

  • "Moonlight" (2016)

  • "Crash" (2005)

  • "Million Dollar Baby" (2004)

  • "Terms of Endearment" (1983)


  • "Spotlight" (2015)

  • "The Hurt Locker" (2009)

  • "Schindler’s List" (1993)

  • "The Godfather: Part II" (1974)

  • "The Godfather" (1972)


  • "Platoon" (1986)

  • "Midnight Cowboy" (1969)

  • "West Side Story" (1961)


  • "The Hurt Locker" (2009)

  • "A Beautiful Mind" (2001)*

  • "Terms of Endearment" (1983)

  • "Rocky" (1976)*

*Showtime subscription required

Snap photos. Create a backdrop with dollar-store decorations and props. Think gold balloons, streamers and sunglasses. Guests can show off their most flattering angles as others snap photos. Specify a hashtag for the party, so guests can easily find these paparazzi shots on Instagram.

Sounds fun, right? Word has it that Madonna doesn’t allow photos at her party.