Parties: Let the Games Begin! Mini Olympics Party

Saturday 26 May 2012

With the imminent arrival of London's 2012 Olympic Games, I thought it might be fun to republish this party I did for beijingkids magazine back in 2008 (while we were living in Beijing). If you're an Olympiad maniac family like us, you'll love any excuse to throw a shindig for the kids. And it's surprisingly easy to do . . . read on.

As Beijing heats up to the 2008 Olympic Games, head indoors away from the sweaty heat with a Mini-Olympics party designed just for kids. All that’s needed is a few props and some competitive spirit!

A mini Olympic event in your own living room? It’s not as impossible as it seems, and little athletes will love the opportunity to compete during this historic time in Beijing’s history. These Games take little in the way of space and props, and even the smallest sporting enthusiasts can proudly vie for a gold medal.


Type up and print off your 'Olympic ticket' invitations, glue them to card and trim. You could also use rounds of yellow cardboard and attach ribbon for a gold-medal look. Handwrite your party details on each medal.

Games Prep

Most of these Games can be run with the aid of just two Olympic Officials (mum and dad), but extra help is always great. Push your furniture against the walls and decide on how many Games Stations you can fit in your living area; most of these Stations take up little room.

Print off the name of each Station and tack it to the wall. Divide your guest-list into age groups, pitching athletes against their own age or physical capability.

Type up a registration sheet listing the athletes’ names and bib number, then tick them off as athletes arrive and register.

You will need an Event Results sheet for each Games Station, with columns for names and placings. Also, type up an Overall Winners tally sheet with four columns that should include the Games Stations then the three placings – Gold, Silver and Bronze.

You may like to award a special prize to the overall Olympic winner, or perhaps offer a prize to 'Fairest Play' or 'Athlete with Most Potential'. Consider offering medals to all runners up, too. Set up your medal dais using chairs and small tables of varying height, draped in white sheeting. Print off large numbers and tape underneath each place.

Olympic Bibs

Your athletes will feel like the real deal with an athletic bib, and Olympic Officials will more easily spot winners. These bibs are easy to make with hemmed cotton squares and lengths of ribbon.

Hand write their name and number or print them onto transfer paper (this paper was found on eBay, or you could order from stationery websites) and iron on. Don't forget 'Official' bibs for the refs.

You could also safety-pin paper squares to athlete’s tops or use inexpensive white t-shirts and fabric markers.

The Games

Gather your kids and prep them on the 'rules', then have a warm-up session. Make sure you use a whistle!

· A broomstick
· A meter rule or tape measure
· Masking tape
· A large plastic bowl
· Some coins
· A long rope
· One balloon for each athlete
· Two hula hoops
· A whistle
· A stop-watch, egg timer or wristwatch

High Jump Limbo

Rules: Athletes limbo under a stick held by two Olympic Officials, which is lowered after each round. Athletes repeat until they touch the stick or fall over.

Winners: Last limbo athlete standing is the winner.

Tips: Tack a meter rule or tape measure to the wall for Officials to measure against.

Shot Put Toin Coss

Rules: Athletes stand on the mark closest to the bowl, and toss one of five coins in. After each toss, they step backwards to the next mark. Repeat until the fifth line is reached. Tally how many of the five coins they get in.

Winners: The athlete with the most coins wins. In case of a tie, have a play-off.

Tips: Pre-measure and mark your shot put lines with masking tape.

Frog Long Jump

Rules: Four athletes stand in a row and jump as far as they can from a standstill.

Winners: The athlete with the longest jump wins.

Tips: Mark a starting line with masking tape. Measure from the line to the back of each competitor’s foot.

Marathon Shuffle

Rules: Athletes must race on their hands and feet, tummies facing upwards. Line them up in groups of two and race around an object, then back to the starting line. If bottoms touch the ground, they are out.

Winners: Athletes compete against each other in racing rounds.

Tips: If you have lots of athletes, have four compete at once.

Volleyball Hover

Rules: Athletes compete in groups of five, hitting or kicking a balloon into the air. If their balloon touches the floor or if the athlete holds onto it even briefly, they are out.

Winners: Winner keeps their balloon up the longest.

Tips: Give each athlete a different Olympic-colored balloon.

Balance Beam

Rules: Athletes walk along the 'balance beam'. Their feet must stay on the rope, otherwise they are out.

Winners: The winner is the one who can keep their feet on the line with repeated walkings.

Tips: Make it harder each time by having the kids put their hands on their heads, walk backwards, close their eyes, or creating a wobbly line.

Gymnastic Unipod

Rules: Athletes compete in groups of two, standing on one foot for as long as possible.

Winners: Play in rounds until the last athlete is, er… standing.

Tips: Place athletes far apart so they can’t touch.

Hula Gymnast

Rules: Athletes compete in twos to keep a hula hoop circling around their waist.

Winners: Athletes play in rounds until the winner is announced.

Tips: Need a little crowd-control? Simply ask non-participating athletes to sit on the floor.


There is nothing like an uplifting beat to get energy pumping. Play some up-tempo music to have athletes jumping and raring to go.


Every athlete needs his fuel. Provide bottles of water or juice with names printed on them, and bowls full of orange wedges, watermelon and grapes.

Leave the sugary, salty party food for when the Games are over and everyone celebrate their victory. The cake is a breeze with lashings of white icing and either rings piped in the five colours, or an Olympic statuette or two.

Medal Ceremony

After your Games are complete, send the athletes off to eat while you tally scores.

Have them sit in front of the medal dais and call out winners for each Games Station, presenting medals and goodie bags to thunderous applause.

Medals and Goodie Bags

Medals can be bought at party stores or made of cardboard circles strung with ribbon. Stuff goodie bags with sport-esque favors like drink bottles, whistles, sweat bands, Friendlies paraphernalia and of course – some candy.

First published, in part, in beijingkids magazine and on the beijingkids website. Photographs by Simon Lim and Tania McCartney.


Marnie Craycroft said...

I am so impressed with this theme! Well done! I love the array of flags! :-) Pinned and shared...

Tania McCartney said...

Thanks, Marnie! And the great thing is, both boys and girls love this theme.

Unknown said...

Cute party! I'm doing an Olympic Games for the kids at my church. Thanks for the ideas!!

Trina said...

Great Job. Had lots of fun looking through your ideas.

Happy Hollister's said...

Love every detail!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much! This is a life saver! I am an English Teacher in South Korea and preparing a Mini-Olympics Day for my children! They are going to love these! Thanks x

Dakota said...

Where did you get the flag banner? I'm looking for one just like that for a family olympics weekend. Great post!

Tania McCartney said...

Hi, Dakota--thanks so much! I made the banner from flags sourced in Beijing. T

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