Olympics
A group of friends plans a Summer 2021 Olympics watch party in their backyard, and laughs while eating hot dogs and attending the gathering.

Here's How To Plan A Summer Olympics Party Right In Your Backyard

Let the good times roll.

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You don’t have to be a sports fan to celebrate the Olympics. Hosted in Tokyo, Japan, this summer’s games are not only highly anticipated, but also an emotional symbol of all the world’s trying to overcome. Around the globe, people will tune in to see sports greats compete for new records and gold medals, and the ever-burning cauldron that will be lit during the opening ceremony, airing on July 23 at 7 a.m. ET live on NBC. Knowing how to plan a Summer 2021 Olympics watch party in your backyard will help you tune in with your BFFs and mark this international moment right at home.

The first step in hosting an Olympics party is to pick a date and time for everyone to come over. If you’re feeling particularly excited about the games, you could tell everyone to arrive in time for the opening ceremony, and turn the gathering into an all-day affair. If you’d rather watch Simone Biles compete in a gymnastics event, or snack on barbecue food while Naomi Osaka dominates the court for Team Japan, then you can plan a party for a weekend afternoon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s safe for fully-vaccinated people to gather with close friends and family without wearing a mask. Those who haven’t been vaccinated should still take precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing. This really opens up the party possibilities, provided that the big event isn’t canceled. (Remember, the Olympics are facing several COVID-19-related issues, especially with Japan under its fourth coronavirus state of emergency and low vaccination rates.)

During your Summer 2021 Olympics watch party, you could also compete in activities like soccer, KanJam, volleyball, or any of the games from the Office Olympics. You could take pictures with sparklers and grill up veggie burgers, too. Here’s how to put together a party that’s a flippin’ good time for everyone.

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01
Tell Your Besties To Dress Up In Theme

First things first, set an Olympics-themed dress code for your party. Tell your BFFs to wear shirts that say “Team USA” on them or cheer on a specific athlete. If you want everyone to match, there are comfy tees your friends can order and then style in different ways. You can also send a text in the group chat telling everyone to dress in the colors of a country they’re rooting for, like Italy or South Africa.

02
Decorate Your Space With Lights And Flags

Your backyard party won’t necessarily rival the glamour and glitz of the opening ceremony. But you can make sure it includes plenty of lights and flags. After you send out invitations and before the party begins, decorate your space with globe lights and tiny flags from each country. If you’d rather not spend money on an entire set of flags, you can always print out photos of the flags, get them laminated, and then string them over a doorway with the help of a hole puncher.

03
Put Together A Playlist Of Upbeat Songs

No party is complete without music. So, for your Summer 2021 Olympics party, be sure to make a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music that’s filled with upbeat jams. You can include songs like “good 4 u” by Olivia Rodrigo, “Physical” by Dua Lipa, and “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. Ask your BFFs to add to the playlist, to take some of the work off your hands and get them involved in the party planning process.

04
Kick The Party Off With A Sparkler Lighting

It’s always a spectacular moment when the Olympic cauldron is lit. During your party, you can have a lighting of your own, complete with sparklers. Simply purchase a couple packs of them, and then kick off the gathering with a little speech and lighting of the sparklers. Use this #cute moment to grab some pictures for IG or video clips for TikTok, before all of the fun and games begin.

05
Set Up A Projector To View The Events

It’s only right to have the latest events and competitions playing during your party. You could set up a laptop on your porch, so your friends can see the beam routines and 100-meter dash. But it may be a good idea to set up a projector and screen so nobody has to crowd around each other. If you choose to go this route, put the screen on the side of your house or hang it between two trees where it won’t get bumped. Happy cheers will be quick to follow.

06
Have Your Besties Bring A Side Dish They Love

While you may fire up the grill and have a barbecue for the Olympics, make sure to ask your friends to bring their favorite sides. It can be an appetizer they learned from TikTok, a recipe from a cookbook they just got, or even a dessert that’s been passed down in their family from generation to generation. In doing so, you’ll ensure there’s enough food and get to try famous dishes from other parts of the world.

07
Serve Drinks Named After Different Athletes

Along with food, your 2021 Olympics watch party should have plenty of drinks. You can serve them in a bunch of different pitchers, or dispensers if you’re hoping to make lemonade or sangria in larger batches. No matter what type of drinks you serve, be sure to name them after athletes to get your party-goers in an Olympics #mood. Some of notable athletes from the U.S. are Sunisa Lee, Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, and Allyson Felix.

08
Organize Games For Your Besties To Compete In

Are you up for some friendly competition? Organize a bunch of backyard-style games for your BFFs to compete in during your party. You can organize a pickle ball tournament, a free-throw competition, and a cornhole-thon. On a sheet of paper, you can keep track of the winners and figure out who needs to face off to determine a gold medalist in each category.

09
Fill Up An Inflatable Pool When It’s Time To Relax

When all the games are said and done, your friends may want to just chill. Fill up a kiddie pool, so they can put their feet up, talk about the games, and get cooled down. This activity might not be as strenuous as the actual swimming competitions. However, it’s important for every athlete and party-goer to relax from time to time.

10
Award Your Besties With Their Own Medals

Before your BFFs head home, be sure to give them their awards. They can be for all the games they played and won earlier in the day, or simply highlight their best qualities. Announce each person’s award and then hand them a personalized gold-plated bracelet. While it may not be a real gold medal, it’ll have the same effect, and be something your bestie can sport beyond the closing ceremony.

The CDC recommends traveling only after you’re fully vaccinated and your vaccine has become fully effective. If you’re not fully vaccinated and must travel, check the CDC guidelines before you book. Check your destination’s vaccination and testing requirements before you depart.