More than 1 billion are expected to watch this Friday, July 27, as top athletes from all over the world gather in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. If a (tiny) chunk of that audience will be tuning in at your place, we've got you covered with tips for hosting an affordable yet gold-medal-worthy Olympics party.
- Decorate homemade cupcakes with white icing and use five M&M's to create the Olympic rings on each one.
- Fill ice cream cones with buttered popcorn for a low cost snack that represents the Olympic torch.
- Fill a fruit plate with whatever's on sale at the supermarket, and then garnish it with a few blueberries, banana slices, blackberries, kiwi slices, and cut strawberries. Shape them into circles to form edible Olympic rings.
Cut the cost of completing your Olympics spread by asking your guests to pitch in and bring a dish. Encourage them to to choose something to represent a country competing in the Olympics -- a baguette and Brie cheese for France, for example, or guacamole and tortilla chips for Mexico.
Continue that theme by making your Olympics party BYOB -- bring your own beverage, whether it be Heineken from the Netherlands or Red Stripe from Jamaica. The cost of providing liquor quickly adds up and asking guests to bring a six-pack can drastically reduce your spending. Much as you might like to promise bottomless Newcastle and Pimm's Cups for everyone, in honor of the Olympics host nation, focus instead on providing at least one type of cocktail and, of course, a few non-alcoholic options. For an Olympic-themed cocktail, try floating Gummi Savers in the colors of the Olympic rings in glasses of champagne. Before you start to protest about the price of a bottle of bubbly, check out Cheapism's buying guide to cheap champagne.
You don't have to spend a fortune on decorations to get guests into the spirit of the Olympics. Try simple items such as hula hoops (less than $1 at many retailers) in blue, yellow, black, green, and red to represent the Olympic rings. Attach them together with clear tape and hang them on a wall. Hit up your local dollar store to check for other cheap Olympics party decorations. If nothing else, you're sure to find balloons and streamers in the Olympic colors.
While watching the Games will take up most of your time at an Olympics party, you can plan a few things to do during the commercials. For instance, the official London 2012 website provides a guide to organizing an Olympics trivia quiz, complete with handouts and levels of difficulty. If you want to reward the winners with more than just bragging rights, hand out candy such as chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.