Securing appointments and reservations is hard enough any day of the year in this city full of A-listers, but during awards season it becomes next to impossible. Our advice is that you plan like Hannibal: Booking early will assure you get your elephants over the Alps.

Flying in and out of LA is the first challenge. Awards season is like the opening of the UN General Assembly with people arriving from all over the world, so flights are booked up far in advance. If you have to travel at this time and are lucky enough to score a middle seat in coach, you will be starstruck, so be sure to bring your autograph book. And even if you have the funds, flying privately is no guarantee either—Santa Monica Airport during awards season can resemble the fall of Saigon. Get on that flight plan!

If there is the slightest chance your brow will furrow with worry when your name is announced in your category, make sure your Botox appointment is booked by Labor Day so you’re not mistaken for (Lincoln portrayer) Gerald Bestrom in The Conspirator. Hair appointments are the same; cuts, color, blowouts, and styling all need to be arranged ahead of time, because no woman wants to hit the red carpet looking like Phil Spector—unless she is going to the Grammys.

But getting dresses is the biggest challenge because designers want their creations on the backs of nominees and the equally fabulous. This is a complication, but it’s not an insurmountable one with enough pleading and Candygrams. What makes getting a dress most difficult are the stylists. If Ebenezer Scrooge were alive and living in LA today, he would be dressing the stars. A-list stylists who represent the biggest names are like the pretty girl at the high school dance—they get first picks and multiple choices, so their studios look like a scene from A&E’s Hoarders. They will literally stockpile gowns. (There is starting to be a backlash against this as some designers refuse to work with stylists who exhibit this naughty behavior.) Dresses are like Patty Hearst—they hate being locked in a closet. Plus, the designers want them seen. Better to put a Gaultier on a B-lister than have it not worn at all.

As for transportation, finding a limo, Town Car, or donkey and dray is next to impossible, so if you haven’t done your due diligence, put that thumb out, raise that hem, and pray your charms stop traffic.

Like every other element we’ve mentioned, if you haven’t planned ahead in regard to hotels and restaurants, you might be sleeping in a doorway or Dumpster-diving for food. Even if you’ve planned well and have your reservations, be aware that unless you’re a nominee or Lady Gaga, you will wait quite some time for your car at the valet stand, and you could die of starvation waiting for room service.

In closing, when navigating the difficulties of LA during awards season, remember what your mother told you as a child: Do your homework, prepare in advance, and make sure you’re wearing clean underwear.

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