Everything You Need to Host a Festive, Global Party for the 2021 Summer Olympics

Olympic-themed party

Bird's Party

After a year’s delay due to the pandemic, it’s time for the world to come together in celebration of athletic excellence and backstories that are TV movie-ready: It’s the Olympics!

As the elite athletes of nations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe gather in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8 to go for the gold, the majority of the world will be watching from afar. And what better way to appreciate the communal competition and cheer for your country than to throw your own Olympics party? Here are some ideas to get you started, from decorations to delicious drinks and dishes and more.

  • 01 of 07

    A World Map

    World map

    Amazon

    Nothing sets an international stage like a world map. This one, from Swiftmaps ($18.90 on Amazon), is 24” X 36”,  laminated and can do dual duty as a decoration and an educational tool for children of all ages. And yes, the Olympics are an international affair, but there is nothing wrong with rooting for the home team.

  • 02 of 07

    A Flag

    Olympic flag

    Volganet / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 

    Hang this U.S. Olympic flag near the fun, and don’t be surprised if a jubilant party-goer takes it down for a victory lap. You can grab this banner for $11.99 on Amazon. It also has grommets for displaying on a flagpole.

  • 03 of 07

    Global Decor

    Olympic-themed party

    Bird's Party

    We all know one of the best things about any party is the food. Take your spread to the next level with a variety of decorations for the table. This plastic table covering features flags of many nations and is less than $5. For around $15 more, you can add six matching paper lanterns to add to the festivities. Looking to put together something quickly? Keep it simple with crepe paper or ribbon strings in Olympic colors, balloons and a rainbow of paper plates and napkins. The SavannahSmiled blog has some amazing ideas you can assemble on the quick and for very little cost. Pro tip: If your decorating tastes run more toward the red, white and blue, check the clearance shelves at your local craft stores or mass retailers. With our nation’s birthday just recently past, you could score a big bargain on party decorations that will have everyone cheering “U.S.A! U.S.A!”

    If your decorating tastes run more toward the red, white and blue, check the clearance shelves at your local craft stores or mass retailers. With our nation’s birthday just recently past, you could score a big bargain on party decorations that will have everyone cheering “U.S.A! U.S.A!”

  • 04 of 07

    International Foods

    Japanese desserts

    Brooke Lark / Unsplash

    If your party will be a potluck, assign a nation to each guest (or family) and see what native nom they come up with. If you go this route, you might want to also assign a course so you don’t end up with desserts of all nations (not that this is the worst idea!).

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Desserts, Too

    Jell-O Poke Cake

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    For dessert, how about harkening back to a table staple: Jell-O poke cake? The beauty of this easy and fun recipe is that you can tailor it to any color scheme (hello, red white and blue!). Another winner is a cookie that plays off one of the most recognizable symbols of the Olympic Games: the rings of blue, yellow, black, green and red. This theme can make for some sweet (and easy to make) treats. Turn store bought glazed doughnuts into the party treat of champions with just a little sugar glaze and food coloring in the official colors. Or try this recipe from Becky at Love to Be in the Kitchen for soft, delicious sugar cookies festooned with colorful candies. The perfect way to include kids in your preparation! 

  • 06 of 07

    Celebratory Sips

    Envy cocktail

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

    Nothing is more festive than a fancy drink, and this Envy Cocktail brings in the colors of our nation with kick. If beer is more your taste, give a Japanese brew a try. Beer is the most popular drink in this Olympic host nation. Drink delivery pros at Drizly list Asahi Super Dry and Kirin Ichiban among available offerings.

    If you are looking for a party with a little punch, try this Firecracker Punch recipe from Betty Crocker. This drink delivers a surprising kick from an unexpected ingredient: cinnamon candies. The punch is alcohol-free, so everyone can enjoy it, but you can easily add a little gin, vodka or whisky for any grown-ups wanting to punch it up a little more.

  • 07 of 07

    Games

    homemade cornhole board

    The Spruce / Lisa Ruschioni

    Competition is the name of these Games, so why not stage your own events at home? Think balance beam (pictured), cornhole, volleyball, lawn darts or any of these off-the-wall activities on Pinterest to give your guests a shot at glory. Add a little video game competition if that is more your speed. You can even award medals ($29.99 for a 72-count mix of gold, silver and bronze) and have a special doorway photo op ($8.48) set up for the winners.

Take the lead with our tips and see where your imagination takes you. Let the Games begin!