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And the Oscar Party Goes To…
by Doug Gordon

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The 76 th annual Academy Awards are scheduled for Sunday, February 29 th . That's one month earlier than in previous years but still gives you plenty of time to plan a party worthy of the little gold man himself.

The envelope please
You don't just want to sit around and watch TV with your friends, right? Make the night a little more social (and competitive) by holding your very own Oscar pool. Copy a list of nominees (available in some entertainment magazines and on the Academy Awards' official site, www.oscar.com ) and use the sheets as ballots that your guests can pick up when they show up.

If your friends suffer from AADD (Awards Attention Deficit Disorder), you might want to limit your ballots to the top eight categories: Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, Director, and Adapted and Original Screenplays. But if your guests prefer the local art-house to the giant multiplex, including all the technical categories and nominees for short films might be just the ticket. And don't forget your cinematically challenged friends as well! Include a bonus question that can also be used in the result of a tie at the end of the night. How long will the ceremony last? Who will Nicole Kidman bring as her date? How many Arnold Schwarzenegger jokes will Billy Crystal make?

Have everyone make their predictions while Joan and Melissa dish the dirt on the red carpet. Make sure all pencils are down before the first award (typically Best Supporting Actor) is handed out. Then have people switch ballots. It's a good way for people to get to know each other and has the added benefit of making sure any cheaters in the room don't tally their own scores.

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