The summer of 2012 my son was turning 10.
When it came time to “design,” (yes, us “overachieving” moms know that we don’t “plan” a party, we “DESIGN” a party!) I knew exactly what the theme HAD to be… The ‘SHOULD-BE OLYMPICS.’ Sure, the world watched as Michael Phelps claimed medal after medal in swimming. We watched Usain Bolt sprint around the track in total domination. But “the Olympics channels” (as my son called the NBC networks) did not show us teams racing against each other in “Body Drag.” They didn’t seem to have coverage of the individual event, “Stomp the Balloon.” That’s it… the REAL Olympics were coming to my Ohio backyard for my son’s 10th birthday!
Immediately I began brainstorming events based on activities 10-year old's like and… SILLINESS! Oh yes, I had to make sure the events were the perfect blend of fun, challenging, and silly. (Kid’s laughter is truly something I love hearing.) Below I have listed the events I created for my son’s SHOULD-BE OLYMPICS birthday party.
1. Individual Event: DIZZY BAT
We will be running 5 heats of this event - the fifth heat will be all of the winners from the first 4 heats. Once the whistle sounds, the participants in each heat will place their forehead onto the bat in front of them and begin spinning around. They will continue to do so until they hear the whistle sound again. Once the 2nd whistle is heard, the participants stop spinning, stand up, and make their way to the finish line as quickly as possible. The first to cross the line, wins a SHOULD-BE OLYMPICS medal! (I had enough wiffle-ball bats so I did not need to purchase any for this event, but they are very easy to find at dollar stores.)
2. Team Relay Event: 3-LEGGED RACE
I’m sure we’re all familiar with this classic event. Please find your other relay teammates, they have the same color bandana as you, and stand together. For the first heat of this event, you will need to pick one member of your team to sit out the first heat and one member who will race twice. Once you have selected the team member sitting out the first heat, please use your bandana to tie your first heat’s racers together as demonstrated. After your legs are tied together, on the command you will race around the house to the finish line in the backyard. A medal will be awarded to the winning team of the first heat. The second heat will then take place once the players have re-tied their bandanas. Same rules apply with a medal being awarded to the winning team of the second heat. (I went to a local craft store and purchased the bandanas. Figure out how many teams you will have, assign each team a color, and get enough bandanas for each team member.)
3. Individual Event: FROZEN SHIRT
At the sound of the whistle, everyone will take 1 frozen shirt from a SHOULD-BE OLYMPICS ASSISTANT and, as quickly as possible, open the shirt and put it on. The first athlete to have their shirt completely on, wins the medal. (For this event I took t-shirts from my son’s closet, folded them, soaked them in water, then stacked them in the freezer overnight. If you are going to be stacking shirts on-top of each other, place a layer of WAX PAPER between the shirts or they’ll be frozen together! I removed the shirts from the freezer when we were getting ready to explain the events so the shirts had a little time to thaw before they were used.)
4. Team Relay Event: FILL ‘ER UP
Once again, find your teammates and stand near a bucket of water that the SHOULD-BE OLYMPICS ASSISTANTS have placed in the yard. Each team member will receive a spoon. You will take turns scooping water out of the bucket with your spoon, transporting the scoop of water as quickly as possible across the yard to the red cup until the water level reaches the marker line inside the cup. You MUST wait until your teammate has dumped their spoonful of water and returned to your team before the next athlete can go. (Pretty self-explanatory. All cups and spoons were purchased at a local dollar store. I did use serving size spoons to speed this event along.)
5. Individual Event: STOMP THE BALLOON
Each athlete must take a balloon from one of the SHOULD-BE OLYMPIC ASSISTANTS and tie it around their ankle. At the sound of the whistle, everyone runs around trying to stomp-on and burst each other’s balloons. The last person with an intact balloon wins a medal! (The evening before the party I blew-up balloons. I then tied a string around the knot on each balloon that the kids then tied around their own ankle.)
6. Team Relay Event: BODY DRAG
Each team will place a blanket on the ground and spread it out. (The smaller participants) will lay down on the blanket. The teams will then work together to drag the blanket with the body across the yard to the finish line. The “body” must stay on the blanket AT ALL TIMES. First team to the finish line, wins the medal! (Does anyone else have a gazillion throw blankets or is it just me?! So, it was very easy for me to find blankets for this event, and not one blanket was ruined in the running of this event! The blankets were all laundered and live-on to this day. If you don’t have a plethora of blankets around your house, ask family and friends. Thrift shops would be an avenue to explore here as well.)
Once I had the events created, I got to work on “crafting” medals for the winners. (Yes, I said “crafting”- this day needed something special!) At age 10 most kids LOVE candy, and my son’s friends definitely fit that broad generalization.
Lightbulb, I had an idea!
I found award medals at a local dollar store (it does not matter what the medals say), bought bags and bags of candy, and affixed different varieties of candy (and 1 gift card for each child) to the circle portion of the purchased medal. The SHOULD-BE OLYMPICS assistants and I made sure that when we were “awarding medals,” each child received 1 medal with a gift card. (I attached the gift cards to the blue-ribbon medals from the dollar store where the red ribbon medals had candy only. This color coding system made it easy for the assistants to know if a participant had already been awarded a gift card.) The medals, then, served as “goodie bags!”
I had done 9 parties before my son’s 10th and I’ve done a few after (hey, at some age the parties have to end!), and the SHOULD-BE OLYMPICS is easily my favorite party. Oh yeah, the kids had a great time, too.
I hope you have fun with this idea whether it’s for a birthday party, family reunion, block party, or way to beat the summer heat!