Throw an Olympic party on a budget


by Heather McLeod/Special to Charlotte Today

Posted on February 15, 2010 at 8:36 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 15 at 8:36 AM

The Winter Olympic games are underway! The elite athletes amaze us with their dedication, hard work and talents. They deserve to be honored as they compete for the gold. We should all make the effort to cheer them on in person because that would just be cool…someday. That whole money thing or lack of it sometimes gets in the way, but I assure you,  you can still cheer on the athletes by hosting an Olympic viewing party on a budget.

A few things I think about when designing a party is what is the point or objective of the party, what color scheme do I want to go with, and do I have a logo or do I want to design a logo to use throughout the party.

An Olympic Viewing party on a budget.

Objective: To have friends and family watch the games and cheer on the athletes without breaking the bank. It is also more fun to cheer on the athletes when you know a little bit about them. Therefore, we created stickers with the athlete’s faces on them. We purchased 2 ½ “ Avery labels/ stickers from an office supply store and downloaded pictures of the athletes from Guests will stick on their favorite athletes as they enter the party. The stickers will also be used on the food and throughout the party to create conversation.

Colors: The Olympic Rings inspired us and we chose to use their colors; green, yellow, red, black and blue. I purchased 20 yards of Olympic striped ribbon for $4.00 from www. We will use the ribbon as an inexpensive décor element throughout the party.

Logo: The Olympic Rings. I downloaded the Olympic rings off of the internet and downloaded them on to the round 2 ½” Avery stickers. I will use these on the centerpieces, plates, cups, etc. The Olympic rings are essentially branding our party and making it look co-hesive.

Twist Tip~ Another way to save money is to host the viewing party in the morning or afternoon. Guests will tend to drink less and sometimes even eat less, which will assist in bringing the cost of the party down. Think about a brunch with Olympic ring donuts, toss in some egg casseroles, and sports drinks to keep your viewers energized while they cheer.

The Invitations: Remember think budget here, so Evite & Pingg are a great way to send a customized electronic invitation with all of the party details. They are also great for keeping track of rsvp’s. However, we wanted to give the invitation a bit of aTwist so we emailed a picture of our family holding the invitation.

Here is how I did it: We purchased a roll of white craft paper from Michael’s and we wrote down all of the party information on the piece of paper-we created a giant invitation. We then tossed in some winter props like hats, gloves, ski goggles, ice skates, etc. and posed with them all while holding up the invitation. Our neighbor stopped by and took a picture of us with our digital camera. We downloaded the picture on to our computer, saved it, and then sent it out in the body of an email to our friends. We kind of created our own little digital invitation. You could also pop the actual picture in the mail or delivery it to your friend’s doors.

Olympic Décor:

Snowball Centerpieces:  It’s the Winter Olympics so bring a bit of the snowy ambiance to your home. I purchased bags of Styrofoam balls that are 2 ½ “ and come in a 6 pack from Michaels. I painted them with craft glue (Aleene’s Tacky Glue) and then sprinkled  Martha Stewart’s crystal tinsel glitter over the Styrofoam balls. The idea behind the snowflake like glitter was to make the Styrofoam balls “pop” and look like glistening snowballs. I then placed the balls in glass vases of various heights and wrapped Olympic striped ribbon around them ( and secured the ribbon with a round sticker that I printed the Olympic rings on. Voila!

Centerpiece Idea & Activity All on One-Olympic “Cootie Catchers”- The objective of the party is to get everyone watching and cheering on the Olympians. We created “cootie catchers” or we used to call them fortune tellers. Here is a tutorial on how to make them (click here). We used colored card stock in the colors of the Olympic Rings to create our “cootie catchers” and wrote out Olympic trivia in the “cootie catchers” so the adults and children can quiz each other. Stacking these colorful little fortune tellers in vases also make a great centerpiece for your coffee table or buffet table.

Olympic Photo Op: Everyone wants to be seen at the Olympics having a blast right? Create your own photo booth for your friends to document their fun. Hang a sheet and place a basket of Olympic inspired props and see your friends get super silly. Place your digital camera next to the “booth” and watch your guests crack themselves up. Hilarious.

Directions on creating your own Olympic Photo Booth:
• Purchase or find an inexpensive King size bed sheet and hang it on a wall or in an empty corner of your home. Even better if you can find a sheet  with red and white stripes or something that is “Olympic” looking.
• Hang the sheet with sturdy tape; duct tape works well. You won’t see the tape in the pictures, so no worries.
• Gather up Olympic inspired props to place in a basket in your “photo booth” so guests have lots of options to put on and get them giggling. Here are a few of our ideas for Olympic inspired props; Olympic torch made out of tin foil and tissue paper, hats, gloves, ice skates, a sled, Olympic medals, Olympic medal stand made out of small galvanized buckets that we painted, skis, etc. You get the picture
• Place your digital camera next to your photo booth for guests to take pictures of each other. You can also assign a friend or family member to be the photographer for the evening.
• Place all of the photos on a photo sharing site after the party, so your friends can see all of the pictures.

Olympic Signature Drink: One way to keep the budget under control is to limit the number of beverages offered. Create a signature drink for the evening and then offer beer (perhaps Canadian), wine and soft beverages. Why not toss in some sports drinks in the Olympic colors to help keep your guests fueled up for the festivities. I will come up with an Olympic signature drink here….agh.

Menu:  Budget is key here, so instead of getting all gourmet on everyone here and trying to create foods from across the world, why not keep it “All American” and serve up food staples served at sporting events. Here are a few of our ideas. Pick a few that you think your family will like….

“Curling” Mac-n Cheese
Spirals of noodles nestle warm and gooey cheese
Served in individual ramekins

“Sasha Cohens” of French Fries and Olympic Onion Rings
Perfectly crisp French Fries and Olympic Onion Rings popped into paper cones  ...get it “Cohens”. Guests will love to nibble on these as they watch the games.

Lindsey Jacobellis Hot Dogs
Famous female snow boarder, Lindsey Jacobellis, was set for gold in Torino when she famously started “hot dogging” it as she approached the finish line and tripped
therefore, losing her gold medal and winning silver. Boil or grille the hot dogs before guests arrive. Place them in their buns and wrap them in tin foil.  Slap a sticker with Lindsey’s face on it and you will surely get your guests chatting about the games.

Shaun White “Flying Tomato” soup
Serve in Demitasse or small tea cups filled with warm
Tomato basil soup .
Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches…yum

Olympic Ring Pizza
Hit your local grocery store or Costco and purchase giant cheese pizzas. Before you bake them in your oven, create the Olympic rings on top with pepperoni or additional pizza sauce.

Toss out some fruit and perhaps a toss salad and you have a fabulous buffet.

Dessert: Pick a few or have all of them at your Olympic viewing party.

Snow Cones: These are perfect for watching the Olympics! Blend up ice in your blender and smother with snow cone syrup. Serve ins small cups with the Olympic sticker on them. A homemade snow cone syrup recipe is below because snow cone syrup can be difficult to find in the winter.

Medal Cookies: Round sugar cookies become Olympic Medals when strung with Olympic striped ribbon. Purchase pre-made sugar cookie dough from your grocery store.  Roll out the dough and use a round cookie cutter or glass to cut out round or medal shaped cookies. Don’t forget to cut out a smaller hole in the top of the cookie because it is where you will thread the Olympic ribbon once the cookie is baked.
Bake the cookies as directed on the package. When the cookies are cooled string them with Olympic ribbon and lay them out on the buffet. See everyone wins!

Chocolate Fondue: The adults will love to watch the games as they dip fruit and cake into melted chocolate…yum. Some great items to dip are pretzels, marshmallows, pound cake, strawberries, bananas, etc.

Olympic Cupcakes: Bake cupcakes and frost them with winter inspired white frosting and sprinkle them with white round sprinkles. Use your Olympic stickers and place them on your card stock and cut around them. Slide them into the cupcake and now you have an adorable cupcake.

Olympic Candy buffet: Create a candy buffet inspired by the colors of the Olympic Rings. Buying candy in bulk is a great way to cut costs. Look for gummy candies, jelly beans, Twizzlers and lollipops in Olympic colors.

Hot Chocolate Buffet: Click here for details……


Homemade Snow Cone Syrup
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1 package unsweetened Kool-Aid, any flavor

Place the sugar and water in a medium pan and bring to a full boil. Remove from heat and stir in the Kool-Aid. Cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator until chilled.

Pour over crushed iced.
Another easy syrup:
1 4 ounces of sweetened flavored drink mix powder

3/4 cup hot water

Mix the water and the drink mix. Cool and drizzle over crushed ice.
By the way, there are all kinds of tidbits out there on the first "snow cones". It appears Chinese Emperors may have flavored snow with fruit and honey. Also Native Americans may have sweetened snow with maple syrup. Though the rich and famous create sophisticated fruited ices such as sorbet, I have a feeling our kids wouldn't be interested. Hand them a snow cone and they are happy!