Entertaining Expert Katie Lee reveals how to throw an award-worthy Oscar's viewing party -- without breaking the bank

Awards Season is in full swing and the most highly-anticipated show is right around the corner — The Oscars, of course!

While some will opt to curl up on the couch with a bottle of wine and take-out to tune into the show (that’s where you’ll find us), others will opt for a more glam night in by throwing a soiree worthy of an Academy Award itself.

But with seemingly limitless options for decor, cocktails and food, planning the perfectly themed viewing party can seem overwhelming — and totally expensive. 

We chatted with Culinary and Entertaining Expert, Katie Lee, about how to throw your best budget-friendly viewing party yet — from Hollywood-inspired cocktails to top pairing tips, the Oscar is guaranteed to go to you for Best Viewing Party Host.

AOL: What are your favorite Hollywood-inspired cocktails?
Katie Lee: I think it's so fun to look to the nominated films for inspiration when crafting your awards-viewing party menu. My go-to for Hollywood-inspired recipes is the Cointreau Awards Night Cocktail Collection: the recipes are really unique and all inspired by this year’s nominees and films. From their collection, some of my favorite recipes are the Wakanda Forever, inspired by nominee Black Panther, and the Singapore Fling, inspired by Crazy Rich Asians. This collection will not only help shape your party menu, but it will also give that extra special touch that your guests will remember.

AOL: Have you ever thrown an Oscars-themed party? If so, what was your favorite element?
KL: I'm always happy to entertain and invite friends over for a relaxing evening. I've hosted Oscars viewing parties many times in the past, and I enjoy mixing it up every year with new recipes based on the nominated films. I make some of my "go-to" hors d'oeuvres, like deviled eggs (maybe with a touch of caviar since it's a glamorous night), and then add in a variety of new movie-inspired cocktails. 

AOL: How can people emulate the Hollywood glamour vibe of a viewing party while on a budget (any hacks or budgeting tricks?) 
KL: Keep it light and add a little kitsch -- no one is expecting you to literally roll out the red carpet! The glam Hollywood vibe can be played up with just a few pops of glitter and charm, like gold confetti and scalloped cocktail napkins. You can also look for glassware, tiered trays, and table accents with hints of gold and copper - all are fairly inexpensive and easy to find.

AOL: What are some of your top rules or tricks for coordinating food pairings with certain cocktails or beverages?
KL: I prefer a simple menu that makes an impact with easy-to-prepare, light bites complemented by cocktails. Choose some hors d'oeuvres that are assembly-only, like a charcuterie and cheese board.  And popcorn is a must -- it's a night about the movies after all! Give your popcorn a little upgrade, like my Glitzy Popcorn; a homemade stove top popcorn mixed with some coconut sugar and dusted with edible gold glitter. It is absolutely perfect paired with the Cointreau Sparkling Margarita, a bubbly cocktail with a pearlescent sparkle.

AOL: What are some of your favorite inexpensive recipes/snacks to serve guests when hosting?
KL: Everyone likes a bite of something sweet. Marshmallow cereal treats are a classic comfort food, easy to make, and always a crowd pleaser. Mix in white chocolate chips and cranberries then garnish with glitter sprinkles to add a final pop.

AOL:What are three things someone hosting their first viewing party should always remember?
KL: 1. Cocktails are a must -- The star of the evening will be the cocktails – I love to put a special touch on mine, such as a lemon twist – like in the When in Roma cocktail created by Cointreau, inspired by the film Roma.

2. Add Some Glam -- Metallics are a simple way to jazz up your décor. 

3. Serve A Simple & Festive Menu -- Get creative by spicing up your favorite foods with on-theme names and menu cards. Take a nod from the colors and flavors of the cocktails too when selecting pairings. 

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