How to Plan a Special-Event Party

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You don't have to be Colin Cowie, party planner to the stars, to throw a great bash. Be an opportunist, and plan your party around a big event such as the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, the Fourth of July or the
Academy Awards -- and let the occasion inspire you.

  • Decide what event you'd like to host. The Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July and the Academy Awards make for great party opportunities.

  • Tailor your guest list according to the event and send out invitations. The invitations can be theme-appropriate. Feel free to invite whoever you'd like, of course. But if you're neighbor down the street is a huge football fan, invite him to your Super Bowl bash. If your coworker is a war veteran, then he might be particularly patriotic about the Fourth of July. Know any movie buffs? Then your Academy Awards extravaganza could be their cup of tea.

  • Pick a menu. The Fourth of July tends to be a good time to get behind the grill. Barbecue and burgers are always safe bets, and fit the summer season. Buffet-style food is appropriate for the Super Bowl and Academy Awards since these events take place around the television. Set out finger foods such as chicken wings, potato skins carrots and celery and more. Some prefer to "Hollywood-ize" their Oscar party with a movie-themed nosh, or high-brow celeb treats like truffles and caviar washed down with champagne. King cakes, beignets, andouille sausage, po'-boys, jambalaya and other cajun classics befit the Mardi Gras festivities. Tacos and margaritas are perfect for Cinco de Mayo.

  • Theme your decorations appropriately. Red, white and blue are obvious choices for the Fourth. But other parties might no have such obvious decorating ideas. You might host your Super Bowl party outside in a tailgate format. Cinco de Mayo calls for Mexican flag colors (red, white and green), and Mardi Gras decadence is usually color in purple, green and gold. If you're lost for ideas at your Oscar party, try rolling out a red carpet and taking polaroids of guests as they arrive.

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