And the Oscar Goes To…

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Over the past few years, I’ve had the great pleasure of designing and executing events for the Washington/Baltimore chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). One of my favorite annual YPO events is the Dine Around, during which four to five couples open their homes to around 20 or 30 chapter members for a dining experience of their choosing. When my husband and I were asked to host, I of course had to ensure the night was over the top!

The date I was given fell a few days before the Oscars, which provided the perfect theme. I decided to roll out the red carpet and let the creative ideas flow…







As guests arrived for the evening, they posed for pictures in front of a step and repeat with a custom-made YPO Oscars 2013 design. To make it feel even more Hollywood, all the guests received their very own shiny gold Oscar. Everyone got a kick out of hamming it up for the camera.




If you’ve ever observed the flow of a party, you probably noticed that people head directly to the bar upon arriving. That makes the bar the perfect place for your first WOW factor.

In this case, we created a dart board covered in balloons that each contained a piece of paper with a delicious ingredient—basil, chocolate, rosemary, mint, pomegranate, etc.—written on it. Guests were invited to pop the balloons with the darts, and the mixologists would then create custom drinks using the special ingredients.




Hors d’oeuvres are more than just food—they are a culinary immersion, an opportunity to engage and delight guests. That was my goal with a custom-built roaming raw bar.

I discovered this tray on the website of Peter Callahan, the master of mini food. In this instance, I stocked it with stone crab claws from Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami, as well as oysters and shrimp. In future blog posts, I’ll show you more creative ways to use this wood tray.




If you are asking guests to sit down for a long meal, why not make it interesting?

Here, we served five courses, each paired with an inventive cocktail. It’s a creative take on a multi-course dinner—not to mention a great conversation starter!




I like to mix things up at a dinner party and have guests move around between courses. A fun way to accomplish this is by incorporating games, such as this one tied to the Oscars theme. Waiters passed envelopes that read “And the Oscar goes to…”

Next thing you know, guests were up, moving, and mingling.



A few of the delicious desserts


As my mantra goes, the finale should always be better than the start. For this party we ended with a cake bar featuring a dozen yummy cakes, including this towering Oscars-themed creation as the centerpiece.




But that’s not all—on their way out the door, guests passed by a cookie bar, where they could fill bags with unusual-flavored cookies (like Fruity Pebble–marshmallow) to take with them, along with mini milk cartons. I got the cookie inspiration from the Momofoku Milk Bar cookbook. (Make sure to check out the bakery’s offerings at And More’s The Emporiyum in Baltimore on April 26 and 27!)




Now you know how to create a fabulous themed evening that will surely win awards from your friends!