How to Host Your Own Olympics at Home

After getting postponed last year due to the pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics kick off on July 23 in Tokyo, Japan. Inspired by the ancient Olympic Games held in Olympia, Greece from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD, the modern Olympic Games brings together the world’s best athletes from more than 200 countries. This year, the youngest athlete (Hend Zaza) is a 12-year-old table tennis player from Syria. Even considering her, your own kids are probably still too young to even think of competing in the real Olympics. But that doesn’t mean they can’t join in on the festivities. There is no better way to get into the Olympic spirit than by holding your own at home Olympics. Here’s how to do it: 

Designate teams and decorate

Once you know how many participants you will have, divide them up into teams as evenly as possible in terms of skill level. There is no need to go out and spend money on matching outfits for this one-day event. Have each Olympic wear a different country’s colors. Have the kids make decorations—country flags or posters with Olympic rings on them—to hang around the “stadium” where the games will take place. You can also create a schedule of events for the day and hang it up.

Host an opening ceremony

Don’t forget to bring in an Olympic torch to symbolize the start of the games. Here is one great way to create your own torch at home. Begin by playing the “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” by John Williams. Get in a large circle and pass the torch around from country to country until it completes the circle. Designate an area to place the torch for all to see while the games begin.

Compete in your own games

Depending on how many teams there are, you can plan events that require multiple participants like a relay race or a baseball game or single participant events like a 100-meter dash. Want to try water events? Plan those for the end of the games as a perfect cool down. Some suggested events are 

• Meter dashes: Choose various lengths from 50 to 200 meters and let runners go all out in a sprint. 

• Relay races: This can be anything from passing a baton-like object in a running race to filling a bucket with a sponge and water

• Tosses: Toss water balloons while taking a step back for each successful toss until the last team is standing without a broken object.

• Javelin throw: Create your own Olympic rings for a javelin throw with a pool noodle.

• Disc throw. Measure how far each Olympian can throw a frisbee

• Bean bag toss: Set up buckets and see who can get the bean bags into the buckets. Or create Olympic rings with pool noodles for participants to toss the bags into.

• Water balloon shot put: Use water balloons for a shot put and see who can throw the farthest. Bonus points if you do competition shot put technique!

• Ball games. Play a game of kickball, baseball or see who can hit a golf ball the farthest.

• Hoop it up. Use pool noodles as hoops (aka hurdles) or see who can hula hoop the longest.

• Jumping. See who can jump rope the longest or use a jump rope to measure how far someone can jump. You can also use a yardstick or tape measurer to see who can jump the highest.RELATED: 10 Outdoor Family Adventures to Take This Summer

Set the Rules

Before the first event, lay the ground rules for the day. Emphasize the importance of fun and sportsmanship. Post some inspirational quotes and read a few before the first event. Some favorites are:

• “Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.”—Mary Lou Retton, gymnastics

• “Failure I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle!”—Sanya Richards Ross, track and field

• “Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.”—Michael Phelps, swimming

Cool Down

With all the heated competition, your athletes will appreciate a cool down. Lead some exercises post-games—think calf stretches, lunge stretches, and chest and shoulder stretches. Treat every Olympian to cold orange slices, a popsicle and a cool drink. This would be a good time to have water balloon fights, too!

Make Olympic-themed snacks

Your kids will be hungry after all that competing so you’re going to want to make some tasty snacks. Use cake cones to represent the base of a torch and put cheddar popcorn or Cheetos into the cups to resemble flames. Bagels can represent the Olympic rings. Use colored spreads like strawberry, blueberry and green chives to add color. You can also create Olympic rings with colored fruits from kiwis/grapes and strawberries to blueberries, blackberries, and banana slices. Donuts or cookies with sprinkles can also be made to look like rings. Golden Oreos and fruit by the foot can create a gold medal treat.

Hold a closing ceremony

After the snacks have been eaten and the games played, it’s time to hold closing ceremonies. Line up three milk crates, wood boxes or whatever you can find to make a proper awards podium. Play the anthem for the designated country that placed first in each event. If you prefer, you can just have one overall medal in gold, silver and bronze based on the teams with the most points. Another idea: create special awards for sportsmanship, best comeback and other categories. Bring your fun-filled Olympic day to a close with a big congrats to everyone who participated with a certificate or other remembrance of the day. 

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10 Best Staycation Ideas for Families

You don’t have to travel far to feel like you explored new territory or made lasting memories this summer. Create your own vacation at home with these 10 staycation ideas for families. 

1. Have an alphabet-theme day

Try to do something for every letter of the alphabet! Use online resources to help you complete your goal (for example, visit a virtual zoo for “z”). If that seems too complicated, pick one letter (maybe your last name) and try that for the day. Make jam wearing jeans while jumping and playing Jenga anyone? Bonus points if you complete the challenge in alphabetical order.

2. Host a family game night

Spend the day in your comfiest PJs playing your favorite games. Introduce your littles to classic games you enjoyed as a child while they teach you a thing or two about Fortnite! You can find many games including even time-honored ones such as The Game of Life and Monopoly as apps, so you don’t need to splurge on buying physical game boards if you don’t want to.

3. Go on a tropical “vacation”

You can easily bring the tropics to your backyard by laying down beach towels, setting up a hammock, making fruit drinks and playing some Jimmy Buffet tunes. Get some Vitamin D while you read the latest pick from Reese Witherspoon’s book club, while your kids devour a new Dog Man title. Littles will love creating an island breeze fans and a spray bottle of water. After taking an afternoon siesta, dine alfresco under the patio lights on fish tacos, jerk chicken or other tropical dishes.

4. Plan a backyard camping adventure

Work together to set up camp including a tent, hammock, chairs and other camping gear, then play favorite yard games including Hide & Seek and Cornhole. For dinner (and dessert!), build a campfire to roast hot dogs and S’mores over. Sing campfire songs like “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and “A Camping We Will Go (sang to the tune of the “The Farmer in the Dell”), or maybe your own favorite family tunes. End the night by telling campfire or ghost stories and using a night sky app like SkyView Lite to identify planets and constellations. If you prefer to be closer to creature comforts like the bathroom, consider setting up a tent or fort indoors!RELATED: 25 Fun Backyard Activities for Families

5. Create a DIY carnival

Begin this staycation by playing carnival games from ring toss to sack races (pillowcases work great for this). This is the perfect time to use up those leftover birthday balloons and create game boards with the endless Amazon delivery boxes. Search DIY backyard carnival games on Pinterest for a great place to start! Print out your own prize tickets and have the kids trade them in for things like movie nights, choose their own dinner and more. Download fair music (search county fair/carnival on Pandora, Spotify or other streaming services), and spend the day eating your favorite fair food from cotton candy and corn dogs.

6. Make a drive-in movie theater

Portable projectors are fairly reasonable these days—purchase your own, borrow one from a friend or find one at a rental location. Use large boxes to create and decorate cars for your little ones to sit it (that’ll give it a real drive-in feel!). Bean bag chairs, camp chairs or patio furniture also make for perfect seating. Grab blankets or sleeping bags to maximize the coziness. Choose movies with a classic summer theme—we’re fans of The Sandlot or Jaws—or go for a Disney marathon. Dine and snack on treats that fit the movie theme like gummy sharks for Jaws, hot dogs for The Sandlot and Dole Whip for your Disney favorites.

7. Hold your own Olympics

Get ready for the Tokyo Summer Olympics at home. Begin by creating an Olympic mascot (think your child’s prized stuffed animal), country uniforms and a list of events. Don’t skip the opening ceremonies where each country will be represented by marching with their designated homemade flag! Some easy events to hold are relay races, the 50-yard dash and the long jump. Pool noodles turned into Olympic rings can be used for a number of events like a javelin throw, bean bag toss and obstacle course. With a little creativity, you can make a friendly day of competition complete with handmade (or store-bought) medals and a closing ceremony.

8. Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes for a day of mystery

Grab the magnifying glasses and go on a backyard scavenger hunt (search backyard scavenger hunt on Pinterest for some great pre-made printable ones!). Another option: Download the Clue game app or get out the board game if you have it. Clue Jr. and Outfoxed are great for younger players. If you are feeling extra creative, consider holding a mystery party at home. A simple search of children’s mystery party games on Pinterest will give you lots of ideas. Turn off the lights and end the day watching Scooby-DooHoles or The Goonies.

9. Play tourist in your town

How much do you really know about the history of your own town? Begin with a Google search to learn more. What is the town’s motto? When people say your town’s name, what do they think of? Walk around town to look for significant monuments or statues. You can also spend time at your area’s history museum or go online to learn more. Snap photos at various locations to commemorate your trip. You can also take a family vote about who has the best pizza in town by ordering some from each restaurant! 

10. Go on a virtual vacation

Spin a globe or use a blindfold and place a pushpin randomly on a map to see where you should travel to. After you’ve selected a location, make a travel plan of where you’d like to go, what you’d like to see and what you’d need to pack. Then, take a virtual visit to your location with the power of technology! Watch a Broadway show (we vote Hamilton or Newsies on Disney+), and dine on some NY-style pizza for a “trip” to New York City. If Africa is where you land, head to The Great Courses to experience an African safari at home. Or throw on your hiking boots and take a virtual tour of the Grand Canyon. The sky’s the limit on where you can visit. 

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