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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