When I lived in Los Angeles in the 1980s and ‘90s, the Oscars, now on a Sunday, took place on a Monday and the entire town would close down by 3 p.m. In this manner, people could go home and get ready to watch the event which was broadcast live and began in the late afternoon local time. Sometimes the race was on to line the far reaches of the red carpet–that is if you could get there through the interminable L.A. traffic which probably doubled on this magical afternoon. One might say the Oscar ceremony was an unofficial municipal holiday, much in the way other towns celebrated Founder’s Day.
My friends and I–many aspiring actors, writers, and directors–would throw our own Oscar party. Gathering at someone’s house, we’d come laden with food that had been in preparation for days. Our spread would be laid out a little early so we could attach ourselves to the TV without having to divert our attention or even move a muscle, losing ourselves in the glamorous, sublime, fashion forward, fairytale world of the Academy Awards.
This year, with the Oscars coming up and acknowledging the budding stars in your own family, why not throw a family Oscar night party with awards for cleanest room, most helpful in the kitchen, family member who continuously honors the family curfew, the person who does their homework without being asked, most improved grades, most community involvement, healthiest eater, etc. (Just make sure to distribute awards evenly so that all family members are acknowledged in some way.)
For the Jensen family of Houston, Texas, award traditions began in mom Linda’s middle school classes where she teaches French and Spanish. “These kids work so hard, I like to acknowledge them at the end of the year and decided to try it with my own kids as well,” she said. “Why should awards be reserved for Hollywood?”
In Denver, after a decade as a Girl Scout troop leader where members are given badges for completing designated requirements (a tradition begun in 1912 by Founder Juliette Gordon Lowe), Meghan Hall also applied the awards concept to her growing family.
“Why not acknowledge their continuously clean rooms, or that they help with the new baby whenever they’re asked?” she said. “It’s always great to thank them with a hug or take them out for ice cream when we have time, but an award is something they can put on a shelf in their rooms and look at every day. It reminds them just how much their consistent hard work is appreciated all year.”
For your own Academy Awards party, make it a real family affair by asking your kids to come up with categories (cleanest closet; most organized backpack; most bags of leaves raked; most improved grades in math, science, languages, English; most time engaged in physical activities as opposed to texting on the couch; most rooms vacuumed every Saturday; etc.) These can be age-appropriate. Have a family fun night in the kitchen and prepare a movie theatre-themed feast that may include items like pizza and nachos, along with popcorn and ice cream bars for dessert (after all, you’re not going to make a habit of this and it is a celebration!).
Prior to the big night, create awards by purchasing cardboard, gold glitter, markers, and other supplies you’ll need to make a prototype and cut out the statues, writing in “Cleanest Room” or “Best Teeth Brusher” (depending the child’s age) at the bottom. Websites like Twig & Thistle, www.twig&thistle.com, even provide Oscar templates to make the job easier. Make sure no one knows who is going to be the recipient of the award(s) in advance–something upon which adults can decide when planning the party. Also, again, make sure that everyone is acknowledged in some way so there are no hurt feelings. In families, receiving an award should acknowledge and inspire, not make others feel inadequate or left out by receiving nothing at all. Each and every one of us, no matter what our age, has different strengths, ideas, likes, dislikes, and talents. Also, visiting a carpet store for a red carpet runner-type remnant can add to the festivities, as can dressing up, especially if you’re sure to snap photos as the winners walk up to the “podium” (a desk or table will do) to accept their awards. Just hold the long acceptance speeches!
At the end of the night, something you might consider is a final award for everyone–much in the vein of Oscar’s “Best Picture”–always reserved for last. Why not give the entire family an award for “Best Family,” acknowledging how hard everyone works to achieve good grades, complete their chores, help one another and others at school and in the community, and contribute whatever efforts they can toward being the absolute best family ever. With a little preparation, family Oscar night can be great fun and a sure-fire winner. It may even inspire kids to work harder to win those shiny statues next year!