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Five Tips For Running An Oscar Office Betting Pool

Step aside March Madness, because it's time for the Oscars! And just like March Madness, maybe your office has started a betting pool. Let's roll out the red carpet and take bets on the winners!

The Oscars have been referred to as "the Super Bowl for women," but as a woman I have mixed feelings about the Oscars. I love the fashions and the hosts can be quite fun to watch, but there's something vaguely repellent about watching wealthy, highly-connected people in expensive clothes act as if their profession is saving the world. The feeling is even more pronounced given the tepid economy in which far too many people are simply trying to survive. I'm sorry, Hollywood: Films do not save the world. Scientists, teachers, police officers, firefighters, volunteers, nurses, and a far lower unemployment rate do. Very few movies in the history of the world have actually changed the world (I'm trying to think of one). Stop sounding so self-important on Oscar night, Hollywood. You provide entertainment, not heart transplants. And if one more entertainment reporter asks, "Who are you wearing tonight?" then I'm going to throw a stuffed animal at the teevee screen. It sounds incredibly awkward, unless the actress is physically carrying an elegantly-dressed person on her back.

On that note, I find few things on teevee more boring than watching actors talk about acting. The actor tries to sound high-minded but runs the risk of sounding a bit too self-involved. Of course, it may not be all the actor's fault. At least some of the blame should fall on their handlers as well as on entertainment reporters who can act more like fans than like journalists. It must be hard to be asked the same set of questions over and over again.

My inherently mixed emotions, however, won't keep me from having fun writing an Oscar-related post. If you're like me, then you've rarely seen any of the nominated films by Oscar time but you know which actor is in which film. I'm too busy living Zero Dark Forty these days to get my butt to the theater to plop down $60 on tickets and popcorn. I've always been this way, though. I like movies, I just don't go out of my way to watch them. I find no shame, either, in watching rather lowbrow fare, and occasionally I've been called on it. I remember working for a small publication years ago. One day, the on-staff, highbrow movie reviewer stopped by my desk to say that I cannot, under any circumstances, include Dumb And Dumber atop my list of top-five favorite employee movies as revealed in her upcoming story. Could I pick something better? Okay, how about Airheads? Brendan Fraser is in it. She deleted me from her story. That's fine. Let's just say that I've always had a problem with all forms of pretentiousness.

Perhaps you have a few friends who see all of the nominated movies every year and are busy throwing down bets today. If they happen to be your co-workers, then the Oscars might be a big topic of discussion worthy of whiteboard space in the conference room. How do you run a successful Oscar office betting pool, though? Here are five tips:

1.) Allow employees to opt out. One of the most important elements of any office pool is allowing people not to participate. Some employees won't want to participate because, quite frankly, they don't care. Or perhaps they don't participate in gambling in any of its forms. Below the line: make sure you allow them to opt out without any pressure from anyone at work.

2.) Don't be a movie snob. A betting pool should be good-natured and above all, fun. A little bit of light ribbing ("You really think she's going to take best actress?") is to be expected. You may know each movie inside and out from director to craft services, but never make your co-workers feel dumb and dumber about the bets they've placed. This is supposed to be fun, remember?

3.) Plan a good prize. What will employees win? An actual prize or bragging rights? I vote for a real prize that's somewhat clever and movie-related. Ideas include a $50 movie theater gift card (hey, movies are expensive), a big popcorn bucket including a bag of the "good" popcorn kernels, a subscription to a movie-related magazine, or an Amazon.com gift card for stocking up on the winning movies. Make it fun to win.

4.) Keep up appearances of professionalism. I don't like redheads because they always freak me out, her body shape is weird, she's too tall, she's too short, her teeth aren't perfect, she has a big nose, I hope she doesn't wear something similar to what she wore last year because it made her butt look even bigger. Face it: some of your co-workers don't have a filter when they get excited about something. It's easy to start disparaging the beautiful people amid the anticipation, but be very careful because the petite, natural redhead you work with might just remember what you said months from now. Let's hope she's not your boss.

5.) Keep the post-game wrap up short and sweet. This tip ties into the one above. Keep your commentary kind without veering off into mean-girl territory because it's simply not professional, especially in front of customers. Save the post-game wrap-up for your lunch break. Remember to congratulate the winner of the office pool, too.

See? Oscar season can be fun! Now I'll go back to waiting patiently for Lincoln on HBO. Where did I put the Dumb And Dumber DVD?

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