Oscar de la Renta Exhibition in San Francisco

Earlier this morning, I had the pleasure of attending the press event for Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective exhibition at the de Young museum in San Francisco. When I got there, let’s just say I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw when she was rummaging through her closet in the first Sex and the City movie (or in the wedding dress scene of the same movie) and appreciated every de la Renta piece that I saw there.

If you are able to recognize de la Renta on the red carpet, but don’t know a lot about the late designer and how and why certain things influenced his work, do make your way to the de Young museum to check it out (exhibit opens March 12).

Walking through this world premiere exhibition of de la Renta’s work is truly an experience one should partake in. It includes more than 130 pieces produced over five decades and is divided into sections: his early work, including Spanish, Eastern and Russian influences; day-wear and evening-wear influenced by gardens; and ball gowns and red carpet gowns.

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During this press event, I listened to a Q&A with former American Vogue editor at large, André Leon Talley, who was a close friend of de la Renta’s over the years.

Here are a few things I learned about Oscar de la Renta while walking through the exhibition:

  • De la Renta was born in the Dominican Reublic in 1932 and after training in Spain at Balenciaga and working for Lanvin-Castillo in Paris, he moved to the United States to work for Elizabeth Arden.
  • De la Renta took part in a fashion show that pitted American designers against their French counterparts and his show, different than what most had seen until that time, granted de la Renta a standing ovation. Side note: he played Barry White’s “Love’s Theme” as the runway song.
  • De la Renta’s designs reflect his dedication to making every woman “feel wonderful about herself” at any shape and size.
  • He drew influence from European history (18th century France), the Golden Age of Spain, Chinese embroideries, Indian textiles, Japanese woodblock prints, traditional Russian fabrics and more.
  • De la Renta was an avid gardener in both his Dominican Republic and Conneticut homes leading to him to have botanical themes in his work, including: floral-printed silk taffetas, appliquéd flowers and soft ruffles.

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Who knows when this exhibition will make its way back around to San Francisco again, so if you have the time to see it, do.

If You Go:

When: March 12 – May 30, Tuesday through Friday, times vary

Where: de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr in San Francisco

Cost: Prices vary (click here) $30–$50

deyoung.famsf.org

Do let me know if you end up attending the show and tell me how you like it!

xoxo,

Leigh

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In-flight Essentials

My husband and I are leaving for New Zealand soon (eeeee so excited!) and have an almost 16 hour flight ahead of us. Though I’m super pumped for the trip, the impending long flight ahead always looms over me.

After our trip to Greece last year, I picked up some helpful tricks for making a long flight bearable. Beyond the typical comforts like wearing loose clothing (my go-to outfit is: yoga pants, t-shirt, cardigan, scarf, tennis shoes, and compression socks – yes I totally rock these), there are several small personal care items you can pack that make a world of a difference. I just throw the below items into a small ziploc baggie, put it in the seat pocket during the flight, and can instantly find anything I might need in flight.

in flight essentials

  1. Make-up remover wipes – On long flights I usually fly makeup-free, but even so, I like to “wash” my face at least once or twice during a flight. These easy to use towelettes remove travel grime and just makes it feel less yucky to not have showered in so long.
  2. Facial mist – It’s like pressing an instant refresh button with every spray. I can’t get enough of this Evian facial mist on flights and spray it whenever I’m feeling dry.
  3. Moisture-rich hand lotion – As you’ve seen from previous posts, I love Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. But what makes it great for flights is the barely-there scent (so you don’t overpower seat mates) and it’s rich formula that will keep you moisturized for hours.
  4. Disposable tooth brushes – I don’t think anyone should go 16+ hours without brushing their teeth, and these disposable brushes make it easy to do in-flight – no sink or water required.
  5. Luxurious face lotion – Travel is the perfect time to break out those samples you have squirreled away. I love Caudalie’s Premier Cru The Cream, and this tiny sample is perfect for one or two lotion applications.
  6. Lip balm – Another favorite, this Vaseline lip therapy is ideal for dry climates and will keep you lips moisturized for hours.
  7. Earplugs – Seal out the sound of crying babies or snoring neighbors and get some shut-eye.
  8. Zinc lozenges – Zinc is said to help prevent and shorten colds. Who knows if that’s actually true, but at least if your mouth feels dry it’s something to suck on, and can possibly help keep you healthy amid a plane full of germs.
  9. An extra hair rubber band – An obvious one, but no one likes to get stuck without a hair tie when you want to throw your hair up in a ponytail or bun.
  10. Advil – I take one to reduce swelling on flights, and also good to have on hand for headaches or any other aches you might develop from sitting for so long.
  11. Hand sanitizer – Kind of a no-brainer, but definitely keep this on hand and apply liberally whenever you may have come in contact with germs.

What do you bring on long flights to make the experience more comfortable? Did I miss any of your must-pack items?

xoxo,
Veronica

Ipsy Glam Bag

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courtesy of ipsy.com

I am always in search of new makeup, especially eyeshadows, lipsticks and glosses, blushes, mascara and the occasional liquid eyeliner. Being the Virgo that I am, I do extensive research before forking over a substantial amount of cash for a new makeup product by a top notch cosmetic line. If I had it my way, every product would be available in sample form and I could try things out and see if they work for me.

That being said, last Friday night, an old colleague of mine from my retail branch banking days told me about the San Mateo-based company, Ipsy. I had never heard of Ipsy, but she said that it’s similar to Birchbox, and you get to keep these cute little makeup bags along with your samples, for only $11 per month ($10 for the samples/bag and $1 for tax). Before even paying for your first glam bag, you go through a whole questionnaire about your skin tone, eye color and complexion, along with what brands you like and products you may use and other important makeup and beauty questions.

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courtesy of ipsy.com

I’ve looked through past glam bags and they’re all fabulous. Each bag is catered to your specific profile, so no one bag is the same. I haven’t received my first bag yet, but I will be sure to review the products once I get it (should be around mid-April). You can earn points to redeem more products and enter giveaways, as well.

You can learn more about Ipsy and sign up here.

Do you subscribe to a different glam box? Let me know in the comments.

xoxo,

Leigh

Vegan Cran-Cherry Almond Power Cookies

Cran cherry cookies

During my 30 Day Challenge, I’ve been seeking out healthy snacks. While perusing the grocery store one day, I discovered these healthy cookies – they are so delicious, but I also thought that I could easily make them myself at home and control the ingredients (and of course it would be much cheaper to make them myself). I found this recipe online, and made a batch for my book club a couple of weeks ago. They had good flavor, but were very dry. I asked my friend Kelly (who happens to be vegan and an amazing cook) what I could do to help the cookies, and she suggested adding some applesauce for moisture, and a dash of vanilla for some more flavor and sweetness.

So I tweaked the recipe with her suggestions, and made a batch over the rainy weekend. I’ve got to say, the recipe is nearly perfect now. The added applesauce really helped to moisten them, and I decided to add in some dried cherries as well for extra flavor (I upped the amount of dried fruit and nuts a bit so the cookies had more texture). The biggest win was that they got the hubby stamp of approval 😉 I’m even going to make some for our long flight to New Zealand!

Tip: Besides using these as a snack, grab 2 or 3 for an easy breakfast, or pop one before a workout for an energy boost.


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats (traditional oats, not quick oats)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons chopped almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, cranberries, cherries, almonds, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together almond butter, maple syrup, applesauce, and vanilla.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well. Adjust accordingly by adding more oats or more applesauce if needed to get to desired consistency. All of the oats should be coated in the wet ingredients, and should stick together to form a small ball when rolled in the hand.
  5. Drop cookies (about the size of a golf ball) onto a non-greased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The recipe yields approximately 15 cookies.

Let me know if you give this recipe a try! Do you have any favorite healthy snack recipes?

xoxo,
Veronica

BarreWear

I am super proud of myself. I have taken seven barre classes and am loving every minute of it. Each class is different and challenges me in a different way. I feel my core getting stronger and that strength is resonating through the rest of my muscles. It’s super convenient for me to stop by Pure Barre San Rafael on my way home from work at least four times per week.

But even with feeling proud that I am sticking with these barre classes, I’m not 100% on my game mainly because I have a limited closet when it comes to workout/gym clothes. Sure, I have a couple pairs of comfy yoga pants and some baggy tees that I bought from Target ages ago, but I see people in my barre classes in cute pants and tops and I have to admit – I get a bit jealous of their barre style.

I’ve been posting barre related photos on my personal Instagram account and last night a clothing account called Life By Lexie followed me. Not knowing who this company is, I of course tapped on the profile and fell in love with the posts. Life by Lexie is a site full of barre and yoga related tops and sticky socks! Another cute site that Veronica shared with me yesterday is called BarreSocks. They don’t just sell socks, but tanks, tees and sweatshirts related to barre.

Here are some of my favorite barre related clothing finds:

Live, Love, Barre, Life By Lexie ($40)

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This is My Barre Shirt, Life By Lexi ($40)

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I Can & I Will Graphic Tank, Target ($13)

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B is for Barre + Brunch Sweatshirt, BarreSocks. (On sale for $49)

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Pony Tee With Strap, Pure Barre ($38)

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Supermodel Capri, Victoria’s Secret ($59.50)

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Don’t Tuck With Me Sticky Socks, BarreSocks. ($13)

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These are just some of my favorite. Target has a great variety of graphic tanks that’d be really cute in a barre class, too.

I’m always looking for cute barre class gear, so let me know if I missed your favorite brand!

xoxo,

Leigh

The Softest Sneakers You’ll Ever Wear

I’ve been in the market for some good walking/traveling shoes, but just hadn’t found exactly what I was looking for – something comfortable, yet stylish as well. And with an upcoming trip to New Zealand fast-approaching, I needed to find something soon.

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I was browsing Facebook last night and saw this picture (above) of a pair of sneakers that looked like they were made of sweatshirt material. I knew I had to investigate further, because who wouldn’t want to wear sweatshirts on their feet, am I right?!

Well I was close – these runners from Allbirds are made from superfine merino wool, sourced from a small farm in New Zealand and spun in an Italian mill. So it’s basically like wearing an expensive sweater on your feet (that’s actually not that expensive) and regulates temperature and wicks moisture at the same time. The sole is made from a proprietary blend of low-density foam called EVA (super light-weight) that is mixed with a special rubber to increase friction so you don’t slip in the rain. But what’s even better is that the shoe is machine washable so it’s super easy to keep clean and looking brand new.

New Zealand sheep

I love the concept of creating an innovative fabric from a naturally occurring resource. The merino has a carbon footprint that is 60% smaller than typical synthetic materials used in shoes, and the wool is ZQ-certified, which means it meets stringent standards of sustainable farming and animal welfare. In other words, no sheep were harmed in the making of these shoes.

So I jumped online this morning to order them, and chatted with Joey (one of the founders) to make sure I was ordering the right size. I usually wear a 9.5 (sometimes 10) in sneakers, but since these shoes have a bit of stretch in them, he recommended I try the 9 first. And get this – he said if the 9’s were too small, they’d ship a pair of 10’s to my hotel in New Zealand to make sure I’d have them on my trip. How about that for great customer service?!

close up sneaker on foot

I can’t wait to take these out on the road and put them through the true travel test in their own land of origin. I’ll be sure to write an update on my experience with them. What do you think about these sneakers, would you give them a try?

xoxo,
Veronica

Book Lovers, Get Amazon Prime

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I turn to Amazon for a lot of things: home decor, accessories, technology and – of course – books. Speaking of books, I received an email from Amazon this morning about my Kindle Book March First. What is that? Well, as an Amazon Prime member, I can choose one book out of six to download for free, even before it’s officially published!

This has been really beneficial for me in terms of book club. It gives me great ideas about what new books to read (that haven’t necessarily made the New York Times Bestseller List) and, let’s be real for a second, who doesn’t like free books?

Now, if you’re not an Amazon Prime member, you can still purchase a Kindle Book First for $1.99. But still, why pay when you can get it for free with Prime? Side note: if you’re married or live with other people, you can share one Amazon Prime account and only get charged once per year, instead of separately. I discovered this last month when my husband and I were trying to figure out how to avoid paying for Prime twice. 

The reason why I really dig the Kindle First picks is because there’s always a variety in genres. This month it’s: thriller, fantasy, historical fiction, suspense, children’s picture book and literary suspense. Sometimes it can be a gamble with these books, however. They aren’t thoroughly reviewed, in some cases not reviewed at all, so if you like the synopsis, take a chance. I picked The Queen’s Poisoner (The Kingfountain Series Book 1), which is the fantasy book pick for March and also one of my favorite genres. I am really excited to read it once I’m done with All The Light We Cannot See for book club.

Let me know if you participate in Kindle Book Firsts – or if you’re planning on it!

xoxo,

Leigh

Oscars 2016 Best and Worst Dressed

Well fashionistas, it’s the end of awards season. The Oscars bring out the stylists’ big guns, and we expect full-on Hollywood glitz and glamour. The stars didn’t disappoint, and I was glad to see a couple of risks on a night that many play it safe. Here are my best and worst dressed picks below.

BEST DRESSED

White dresses had their moment this year, as well as plunging necklines.

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Brie Larson in Gucci – Such a beautiful and feminine dress. The sheer fabric along the bust created the perfect balance of sexy and classy, and the belt really pulled the whole outfit together and added a wow factor. I was also in love with her hair and want to try the pulled back look with simple twists on myself sometime.

Olivia Wilde Valentino Haute Couture – I think there will be some mixed opinions on this one, but I had to put her on the best dressed list purely for the gorgeous back detail on this dress (I’ll call them “wings”). The architectural pleats are modern and chic, and the choker is on-trend (they’re supposedly making a huge comeback).

Naomi Watts in Armani Privé – I just couldn’t get over the colors of this dress as she walked down the carpet – simply stunning. She took a risk and it definitely paid off. The only thing I would change is to give her a simpler, more modern necklace – the one she has on is a little prissy for this dress.

Charlize Theron in Dior Haute Couture – A beautiful woman in a bright red dress with a plunging neckline…do I need to say more? Simple and stunning.

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Priyanka Chopra in Zuhair Murad – I like that she went in a different direction with the white dress trend and chose a beautiful white lace/beaded accent with a sheer underlay dress. She accessorized with huge diamond earrings and rings and an edgy belt that all went together beautifully.

Saoirse Ronan in Calvin Klein Collection – I wasn’t sure about the mismatched earrings at first, but when I heard the story behind her jewelry and dress (she chose the green to honor Ireland, both the subject of her film and her home as a child) I got on board with the overall look. The color of green she chose is stunning and the dress fits her well.

Lady Gaga in Brandon Maxwell – One of the only women to show up in pants. I love the architectural structuring around the bust. I’m still not a fan of her hair (wig?) and makeup, and wish she would just go with something more natural looking. When you see her grouped with other women like this, you can see how her hair and makeup never looks as natural and effortless as other starlets.

Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé – I can guarantee this dress will have some mixed feelings as well (like Olivia Wilde’s dress). But you can’t deny how perfect the color is on Cate. I also appreciate how different this dress was from everything else on the carpet. I wish the appliques on the shoulders were less pronounced, but other than that her look is perfection.

WORST DRESSED

When it comes to worst dressed, the Oscars don’t tend to be as shocking as other awards shows, as everyone tries to bring their A-game. However, there were still enough ill-fitting garments and what-were-you-thinking dresses (looking at you Heidi Klum) to compose a worst dressed group.

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Alicia Vikander in Louis Vuitton – The color is fun on her, but many said it was reminiscent of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I think that hi-lo hem is a little overplayed, and the whole thing just felt too princess-y with all of the glittering crystal accents and accessories. It made her appear much younger than her 27 years.

Kerry Washington in Atelier Versace – A little too dominatrix for the Oscars. The straps at the top look amateur with the unflattering neckline, and I don’t think the black accents on the white skirt are flattering on her.

Whoopi Goldberg in Dames of New York – I appreciate her making the effort and wearing a dress (as she’s usually in pants), but the neckline is not flattering on her body. It’s based on a dress that Bette Davis wore in All About Eve, but it just doesn’t work well on Whoopi. The black color is also too severe on her – a bright jewel tone would have been so pretty.

Heidi Klum in Marchesa – By far the worst. It looks like a nightmare bridesmaid dress that always ends up in movies (you know, the ones you would never think anyone would actually make their friends wear in real life). The flowers, the awkward billowy one sleeve, the unflattering poufiness of the layered tulle skirt…the list goes on. Just bad.

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Mindy Kaling in Elizabeth Kennedy – This dress isn’t the worst, but the bust area just looked so tight and constricted on her. It also feels a little matronly for an actress still in her 30s. But I love the pop of blue with the otherwise simple black gown.

Andra Day in SAFiYAA – The bust on this dress is so ill-fitting it’s not even funny. Why is it so droopy? What is going on in there? The dress is also way too long and needed to be hemmed, as it’s pooling at the floor.

Reese Witherspoon in Oscar de la Renta – Though the color is beautiful, I’m not a fan of what’s happening in the bust area – the ruffles make the whole area look lumpy. Also, the hip area seems to be pulling and doesn’t look like it’s fitting properly.

Emily Blunt in Prada – There is nothing wrong with a pregnant belly on the red carpet, but I’ve just seen it done much better than this (ie – Chrissy Teigen in Marchesa). The style feels like a high school homecoming dress to me, and the light pink with the empire waist makes it all a little too cutesy for the Oscars. Not the worst, but she could have done better.

Well, that’s a wrap! Did I miss any of your favorites or least favorites?

xoxo,
Veronica

Girlfriend Getaway to the Madonna Inn

Madonna Inn arrival

My best girlfriend currently lives in Los Angeles, so we decided we needed a girls getaway to catch up. One of our favorite bloggers had stayed at the Madonna Inn last year, and ever since then, it’s been on our radar as a must-visit destination. Seeing as it’s almost an even halfway point between SF and LA, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to meet in the middle and stay at this landmark hotel.

Mini Maxi

Stay: Well of course, the Madonna Inn. But more specifically, we chose to spend our 2 nights there in the Mini Maxi room (#146). It is touted on the website as being “ideal for an anniversary, honeymoon or any special occasion,” so the whole weekend we joked we were on a romantic getaway. Romance factor aside, we couldn’t resist the plethora of pink decor and the gigantic rock fireplace that sits directly at the end of the king bed. It also features a rock shower and rock sinks, and a fully equipped Toto toilet that introduced us to the wonderful world of heated toilet seats.

Mini Maxi bathroom

Some honorable mention rooms that also topped our list were: Carin, Love Nest, and of course the Madonna Suite (but it was too pricey for us that weekend).

Pool

Play: Even though I’m sure there are a ton of fun things to do and see in San Luis Obispo, living in San Francisco doesn’t provide many opportunities to hang out at a pool, so I was really excited to get some quality fun in the sun time at the Madonna Inn pool. They have a large pool area with two hot tubs (one adjacent to the pool, and one tucked away near the SPA). When the sun went down, the SPA hot tub was a nice respite from the cool breeze.

Hot tub

We also decided to treat ourselves to a mini spa treatment when we got in on Friday. The Madonna Inn SPA runs specials every month, so we went with one of the February specials called the “Madonna Kiss” – a 45 minute treatment focused on the back, neck, and feet.

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Eat/Drink: We both love eating and drinking, but wanted to be smart (cheap) about our choices since we were spending so much money on the room itself. We brought some of our favorite drinks to enjoy in the room: fruity beers (Stiegl Radler and Avery Brew Co. Liliko’i Kepolo), white wine (Sauvignon Republic sauvignon blanc), and of course, champagne (Veuve Clicquot and Sophia Blanc de Blancs). We didn’t end up even getting through half of it, but it was nice to have a selection of our favorite drinks on hand. And we both brought some snacks to share in the room so we didn’t have to go out to every meal (protein bars, chips and salsa, hard boiled eggs, pretzels, etc).

Novo restaurant

We basically ended up eating out one meal per day of our 3-day stay which I think was a good balance. Friday night we kept it lo-key and grabbed burritos to go and brought them back to the room, Saturday night we got dinner out in downtown SLO at Novo Restaurant, and Sunday morning we ate at Copper Cafe at the Madonna Inn. Here’s a little summary of the places we ate at:
• Taco de Mexico – Taqueria atmosphere, good for getting burritos to go. Not the best I’ve ever had, but a solid choice if you’re on a budget.
• Central Coast Wines – Go to the back tasting area and try a flight. A downtown tasting room and store convenient to restaurants and shopping (and right near Novo Restaurant).
• Novo Restaurant – The cutest backyard patio (definitely eat outside, they have heat lamps!). We shared the fresh avocado shrimp spring rolls appetizer, and I got the Thai green chicken for dinner (get it with the Forbidden black rice!). Reservations recommended, but you can always grab a drink at the bar while you wait.
• Copper Cafe – We had to try a least one meal at the Madonna Inn, so we opted for breakfast which was cheaper. I went with the Eggs Benedict (with a huge thick-cut piece of ham) and it was legit – I’m very picky about benedicts, and this was a good one. Reservations also recommended here – it was packed, and we opted to eat our breakfast in the bar rather than waiting an hour for a table in the restaurant.

Overall the weekend was so fun, and I’d really love to go back sometime and try a different room (though ours was awesome). And if I had another day there, I’d also like to explore the wine country around SLO a bit more, or even try out one of the many hiking trails in the area.

Have you ever been to the Madonna Inn? What room would you choose?

xoxo,
Veronica

Oscar Party Ideas

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This Sunday, February 28th, is the 88th Academy Awards. I have to say that it is one of my favorite award season nights (that and The Tony’s) because of all the glitz and glam and, of course, the films. Over the years I have experienced a number of different types of Oscar parties, now just sticking to my own rendition (although, not sure if I’m throwing one this year). Here are a few ideas to get you pumped up for The Oscars – and maybe throwing your own party this year.

  1. Chinese take-out, The Oscars ballot and a gift card. This is now what my Oscar party consists of. I send out the invite (usually no more than 7 or 8 people come), print out Oscar ballots and purchase a gift card for the person who gets the most correct on their ballot. About a half hour before the Academy Awards actually starts, I order Chinese food and go pick it up and we eat buffet style in the living room.
  2. Glitz and glam. If you’re looking to get dressed up to enjoy the Oscars, you can always attend or throw your own red carpet extravaganza. Decorations can include: black and gold plates and cups, mini Oscar figures, gold table confetti, red carpet with a Hollywood wall decal for a selfie booth. If you’re looking to find decorations on the cheaper side, check out your local dollar store or Party City. Be sure to let your guest list know to dress in their Hollywood best in the invitation.
  3. Awards Night parties in your neighborhood. It’s a tradition – at least in Marin County – that some local theaters broadcast the Academy Awards and throw a party along with it. The Battery in San Francisco is throwing their Oscar party, the Lark Theater (in Larkspur) and Rafael Theater (in San Rafael), FunCheap SF’s Oscar Viewing Party and here are more Oscar viewing parties in San Francisco.
  4. Family, pjs and popcorn. This is a way more laid back version of an Oscar party. Reminiscent of my Chinese take-out option, who doesn’t love lounging around in their pjs, eating popcorn, laughing with family and watching the star-studded award show? Pop some kernels, throw a blanket over your lap, relax and enjoy the show.

Did I miss your favorite type of Oscar party? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for Veronica’s worst/best dressed list.

xoxo,

Leigh