Soooooo, my daughter and I host a monthly staff appreciation luncheon for the teachers and staff of one of our local schools, and this was our plan for February! I share it with you because it might give you some ideas for what to do for your own Oscar Party at work or at home, or for the residents of your Assisted Living Center or Senior Center, or your bowling league, or a Bunco party, or a High School Musical Final Curtain After-Party (Ha! I did that one too — very memorable. The kids made it sooooo much fun!!!!), or whatever group you are throwing a party for.
What’s really rather awesome for us is that our teachers work in a place with “Academy” in the name of the school, so…how perfect is that?
Party Count Down – One Month Before…
I sent a note home with each child in each classroom, asking their parents to write a note of appreciation or compliment for their child’s teacher(s) on an index card size notecard, and return those to me. (BTW: This is a great place to direct parents who are unsure what or how to write in such a note: Teacher Appreciation Letter, Simple Thank You Notes for Awesome Teachers). I am using these notes to create Walk-of-Fame star booklets for each staff member.
How I made my booklets:
- Purchase pocket size photo albums from Walmart and remove the covers that come in them.
- Spray paint the card stock covers with chalk board paint (to cover any design they may have and prime the surface) and then spray on some stone
paint. I made half of mine gold (for variety) with a light coating of gold metallic paint over the stone paint.
- When dry, attach a Walk-of-Fame star (I created mine on my computer “Paint” program) to each front cover with a scrapbooking glue dot.
- Replace all the covers in the photo books with the new ones. I gave all the ones with gold front covers plain stone back covers, and all the ones with stone front covers got gold back covers.
- Insert notes into the inside pages where the photos go.
I’m really excited for our teachers to see these.
I’ve also given each of the staff members a SECRET BALLOT, asking them to nominate their peers for various awards (see the list and sample ballot below). And I posted a Ballot Box in the lounge where they could deposit their ballots until I was ready to pick them up, about a week or so before the party. I used that info to make up award certificates placed in special envelopes, to go with their Oscars (cookies) and their Walk-of-Fame stars.
This is the luncheon flier I made and posted on the school’s Facebook page (which I hoped would alert the staff to our menu and theme this month, and hopefully also remind the parents to get their notes to me). My daughter has also printed it and posted it in the staff lunchroom for all the staff to see, so they will be reminded to “save the date.” The design for the flier was something I found online and adapted. But here is a spectacular idea I found for more personal invitations.
Aren’t these the cutest? Some people are so clever!!! I’m making these adorable edible Oscar cookies for dessert from an idea I stumbled upon at Bakerella.com. Well, let’s be real real about it….mine are nowhere half as adorable as these. I’ve never been a great baker! But, if they never see this photo they’ll be none the wiser and think mine are cute. Note: She also includes a recipe for the perfect cookie dough that will hold the shape of the cookies as they bake, and I can attest that it works beautifully. I didn’t have any meringue powder for the royal icing though (I’d never even heard of it in fact), but, so I substituted knox gelatin disolved in the liquid that was called for in the recipe. It worked, but I can’t say it worked as well as the right stuff. I found a plastic, 4½” tall cookie cutter at amazon.com (sold by cookiecutter.com) that I used to shape my Oscars, and then Walmart (or any local grocery store with a baking isle) had a good assortment of cake and cookie decorating sprays, glitters, icings, etc. that I used to decorate them with. The detailed instructions for making these lovely cookies is found at Bakerella.com.
Here is my puny attempt:
THE ENVELOPE PLEASE…
Now, in my web travels I also found some funny awards certificates for teachers that I thought would lend a lighthearted, sort of soupçon, to our OSCARS party. The author of these awards does share some freebie images (featured on my ballot), but otherwise his certificate sets sell for $35. I also added a few of my own.
Once the ballots were turned in, I made little awards certificates and sealed them into envelopes. See a photo of them later on down this page.
Awards Categories (the freebies):
P’s & Q’s Award – for Best Manners
Burmuda Triangle Award – for the desk where things go in but never come back out
Raisin Award – for Most Deserving of a Raise in Pay
Dew Decimal Award – for Most Organized
Smart Cookie Awards – for the Staff Member with the Biggest Sweet Tooth
Single File Award – for the Staff member most capable of keeping everyone in line
Locksmith Award – for the Staff member who is the Key to our Success
Bunsen Burner Award – for the one who has the Hottest Ideas
Baby’s Bottom Award – for the One who is Smoothest in Times of Crisis
Duct Tape Award – for the one able to fix just about anything
Carpe Diem Award – for the one who makes the most of every moment
High School Musical Award – to the one most likely to break into song
And these are the extras I came up with….
Adam Award – for the one who has been here the longest
Noah Award – for the one who is always prepared for disaster
Mary & Martha Award – for the one who feeds and makes everybody feel welcome
Secretariat Award – for the one with the biggest heart
Red Carpet Award – for the one with the cutest outfits
Anne Sullivan Award – for the gifted teacher who can teach anyone
Maria Montessori Award – for the gifted teacher with amazing motivational skills
William McGuffey Award – for the gifted teacher who is the most ferocious reader
Emma Hart Willard Award – for the gifted teacher with the biggest dreams for her students
Jaime Escalante Award – for the gifted teacher whose students outscore everyone
GOOGLE Award – for the one most likely to know the answer to anything
Thomas Edison Award – for the one with the most inventive ways to accomplish things
Albert Einstein Award – for best hair
Laura Ingalls Wilder Award – for the one who tells the best stories
Baby Huey Award – for the youngest staff member
Wilma Rudolph Award – for the marathon runner mostly likely to outrun everyone
Peter O’Toole Award – for the one with the most nominations without winning an award
One could also give out simple awards for outstanding effort in whatever categories (i.e. best dressed, best supporting staff member, most animated story teller, most pleasant intercom voice, most punctual, best sense of humor, most artistic, etc.)
This is the tablecloth I found at Amazon.com to decorate the table.
I placed the Oscar cookies in the center, and flanked the plate with the Walk-of-fame star booklets and the black envelopes with the awards inside. I also found some nice compliments for teachers online that I printed and scattered around on the table.
For your party it would be fun to scatter some Movie Trivia Cards around on the table, and decorate with some helium filled star-shaped balloons; maybe some old film reels, and clapboards. The party stores have cut-outs too that your guests can stick their faces in and you can take photos of them.
Silver serving trays, plates, and utensils, and stemware for the non-alcoholic bubbly beverages.
FOOD “Studio Commissary”
“Straight Outta (insert your town name here)” Cheese Fondue, served with torn crusty bread, cooked and cooled fingerling potatoes, and mushrooms.
I made a baked Fontina fondue (Ina Garten’s recipe from Food Network), and omg you cannot begin to imagine how magnificent this dish smells as it is broiling in the oven its short little six minutes. Lord have mercy!!! Super quick and easy to toss together and absolutely the best thing you will put in your mouth this whole week, maybe month. Make sure though that you find a good Italian Fontina. The other stuff doesn’t melt very well and will soon turn to a rubbery mass as it cools. It will still taste awesome, but not have that gooey, dripping, oooo la la lushiousness that you want in a fondue.
“The Revenant” Meat Fondue – warmed gravy, Au Jus, or spicy sauce (I made a Jezebel/Henry Bain sauce, but forgot to put it out, rog ronnit, so they just dipped in the cheese fondue), various chunks of sausages, and I made some chicken meatballs.
“Spotlight” Fruit Fondue – you can go with a melted sweet cream vanilla sauce (or I made a Toblerone Fondue: 1 cup heavy cream, 5 (3.5 oz) bars of Toblerone, broken, 1 1/2 Tablespoon Hazelnut-flavored coffee syrup. Heat cream to a simmer. Remove from heat. Toss in Toblerone. Let sit a few moments. Add Hazelnut syrup. Whisk until blended and smooth. Keep warm in fondue pot).
I did cream cheese filled strawberries (1 8-oz block cream cheese, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. Vanilla. I placed these three ingredients in a gallon size ziploc bag, sealed it, and then kneaded the bag until the contents were completely blended. Then smooshed the contents to to bottom of the bag, cut a small hole in the corner, and piped the cream cheese into my strawberries. Oh, after you core your strawberries, nip the bottoms off so they will sit nice and upright on your plate).
You could have all sorts of dipping fruits for your fondue (strawberries, grapes, banana slices, pineapple chunks, apple slices, etc.
“Inside Out” Lettuce Bundles – I used a recipe from Betty Crocker.com only I used Blood Oranges to squeeze my OJ, because I love them, and the store had them, and they make such a pretty colored red-carpet-like dressing.
“Star Wars” Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Cider, served in Champagne flutes
*OR… if a buffet spread is more your style, you could go with a HOT DOG BAR instead of the more intimate fondues I’ll be serving, and wrap your little “Oscar” Mayers in cute little tuxedos (click on the blue link for the Better Homes and Gardens tuxedo instructions), and then flank them with a huge spread of topping choices. You could even print and post this poster to give your guests ideas for how to dress their dogs, once they’ve undressed them out of their fancy duds.
A “Shaun the Sheep” Popcorn Bar (there are tons and tons of great serving table ideas on Pinterest), like the one pictured above. Mine was not so fancy, with tied cloth and labeled shakers and pretty signs, but I did figure out how to tilt the popcorn bucket like the ones above. Just roll up a towel and tuck it up under the back of the bucket.
I ordered Popcorn Bags, from Oriental Trading Co. but also found them at the dollar store.
I popped a bucketful of plain popcorn, no butter or salt or anything. (I found the coolest popcorn popper at World Market. It’s a glass pitcher with a resin lid. You measure your kernals into the lid, pour them into the pitcher, pop in the microwave for about 3 minutes, and voila…POPCORN!)
I found buckets at Dollar General, probably intended for plants, since they were in the garden section, but they worked. They looked like half a whiskey barrel. Cute!
Toffee coated Peanuts
Malted Milk Balls
Juji Fruits or Dots
*Olive Oil (served in a condiment dispenser, like this one —>
Italian Seasonings (I mixed some garlic powder in with mine)
Parmesan Cheese, grated
*Melted Butter (served in a condiment dispenser, like this one —>
Plain Sea Salt
“The Hateful Eight” Kernel Seasonings assortment
MUSIC (to set the stage as the staff members arrived)
I played a Hollywood’s Greatest Hits CD on the BoomBox. BTW, a great game to play with your background music: Name-that-movie. As soon as a new theme or soundtrack begins, the first person to guess the movie for that score could win a prize. (I found a wonderful blog with lots of game ideas for an Oscar Party. I know it will stir your creative juices).
Once the staff made their way through the “Studio Commisary” buffet that my daughter and I had set up, they took their platefuls to the table where they discovered their “Walk-of-Fame Star” booklets, and all the envelopes. As they ate, they began opening those envelopes and finding out the awards they each were nominated for, and which ones they won, and of course all were awarded with as many Oscars cookies as their sensitive teeth (or blood sugar) would let them eat!
I confess, this was an ambitious undertaking. I was quite sure the night before the party that I was in over my head. Even though I gave myself plenty of time to do each little project, I tend to be a notorious procrastinator when it comes to cooking. I prayed like crazy that I would get everything done, and that it would all be perfect, and lovely. I had my fingers crossed (and my toes crossed, and my eyes crossed – okay, well that last one was unintentional) that it would all turn out the way I planned.
I somehow managed to pull it off, and I am home updating this blog with a good feeling in my heart. The ladies were all so gracious, as they are every time. Quick to lavish praise, which I don’t take very well. I just don’t know what to do with it. But my ultimate goal was not in getting any praise at all, but rather to make them feel loved, and special, and thought of individually, and appreciated, and encouraged….and I think the daughter and I might have managed it. Praise the Lord.
And thank goodness for the secretary playing paparazzi for our party, thanks to her there is some proof that it actually happened.
May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. 2 Samuel 2:6 (NIV)