How to host a cheap Oscar party that's as good as gold

The Gifted OnesIf you are thinking of using good taste to host your indie-budget Oscar party on Sunday, think not. We're celebrating Hollywood, remember? Go kitschy. Go overboard. Do the themes. Dress up in a tux or your tackiest bridesmaid dress.

With a little planning, your production doesn't have to rack up cost overruns like a rogue director. Christopher Dauphinee, manager of The Gifted Ones, an online outlet of all-occasion presents, suggests one rule to follow: "Make sure everybody's fed, everybody's quiet and make sure ballots are filled out beforehand," Dauphinee told WalletPop.

That isn't to say the red carpet arrivals are a mere precursor. It just means that they lend themselves more to distraction. You only need to see the parade of gowns while providing your own catty comments. And it's a good time to push guests to fill in their Oscar pool, which you can print for free from Keep the main event to light munchies and drinks.

Now to our feature presentation: Blow up balloons ($1 a dozen) to celebrate the best picture candidate movie "Up," about a man whose house flies away on balloons. Put up movie posters -- $7 for some nominated films at Scatter movie scripts on the coffee table. In New York City we can buy them on the street for a buck. You can get them online for $7.99 at scriptshack.

You cannot ignore Oscar favorite "Avatar." Go blue with Terra Blues potato chips ($8.38 for two 5-ounce bags). Toast "Up in the Air," the story of a frequent-flying corporate hatchetman, with airline booze mini-bottles. West Concord Liquor in West Concord, Mass., sells minis of vodka for $1.50 but they can be had for 99 cents elsewhere. Don't forget to make a few of them whiskey as a nod to Jeff Bridges' best actor nomination for his drunken country crooner in "Crazy Heart."

The main dish, a brisket recipe from the Food Network, represents the Jewish roots explored by the Coen Brothers in their best picture hopeful, "A Serious Man." The flat cut is about $3.29 a pound, the point cut $2.59, both of which are affordable even at the six to seven pounds required.

The low-cost and easy side dish pays homage to the gore of Quentin Tarantino's best picture aspirant "Inglourious Basterds." The Food Network calls it blood and guts potatoes.

For dessert, we suggest movie-trivia fortune cookies (9 individually wrapped in a Chinese takeout box for $6) from The Gifted Ones. If you order by Wednesday, most of the country can still receive them by ground shipping in time, the manager said.

Dessert beverage is easy: Bigelow tea to give props to "The Hurt Locker" and director Kathryn Bigelow.

And finally, nobody should go home empty-handed. WalletPop colleague Ann Brenoff suggested swag bags like the Oscar talent is getting, except with a value of five digits less. How about a stuffed animal instead of the $45,000 African safari? A lottery ticket instead of the $14,500 Monte Carlo getaway? And a can of Iams instead of the Tiffany crystal-studded cat collar?

If guests don't feel like winners, at least they'll be laughing out the door.

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