I am just going to start by saying that I LOVE the Olympics. I’ve been watching it for as long as I can remember, and I never, ever miss it. However, the more I grow up and venture out into the world, the more I find people that don’t care about it at all (like Shannon ;) ). Unless you hate sports, I don’t understand how you can NOT watch the Olympics. Unlike the World Cup, we’re actually good at it.
The Olympics are special to me because 1) I love sports, and 2) it gives us the chance to see international camaraderie taking place — no matter what else is happening in the world. I don’t care what your political beliefs are. The Olympics have the potential to fill you with a certain amount of pride for your country, which is (sadly) more rare these days.
Olympians are the most athletically talented people in the world, and for most of them, they’ve dreamed of and worked toward this moment ever since they were children. The Olympics are the culmination of dedication, hard work, and a tremendous amount of sacrifice and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. So to have the chance to witness that? Amazing.
If you never grew up with the Olympics or watched it before, this would be the perfect chance to start! The Winter Games are smaller than the Summer Games and tend to be less popular. But, unlike the Summer ones, I see these as infinitely more dangerous. Just look at some of the sports: bobsleigh, luge, skeleton, alpine skiing, snowboard slopestyle, snowboard halfpipe, ski jumping, ice hockey, curling ...
I mean, just look at this. Just look at the action. Look at the danger. Look at the SUSPENSE. Skip to 6:21 to watch Team U.S.A. throw it DOWN.
(If you’re still confused as to what curling is, it’s basically a giant shuffleboard but on ice — with a few other differences, obviously.)
So unless you actively avoid news and don’t care about the Olympics, you’ll know that this year’s 2018 Winter Games are taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea, about 78 miles east of the capital city of Seoul. This is the second time South Korea has hosted the Olympics, the first being in Seoul in 1988. I’m SO excited (if you couldn’t already tell).
Sports are great, but one of my favorite parts of the Olympics is the Opening Ceremonies. Each year, the countries try to top one another to make the best one — although at this point I don’t think anyone will top Beijing. (Watch the full version here — with Mandarin commentary!)
Also, the Opening Ceremonies give me another excuse to throw a party! Woo! So, to kick off this year’s Winter Games — which you can watch this Friday, February 9, at 5 p.m. on NBC— I’m throwing out some ideas for Olympics-themed decorations and food to make it fun and culturally relevant. Since it’s taking place in South Korea, why not take this opportunity to learn more about the country? And, since you’ll (in theory) be cheering for the U.S., this party can be an amalgam of both. So let’s celebrate!
It’s the little details that elevate a party from good to memorable. Consider a few of these:
For Olympics-inspired decorations, you can’t go wrong with strings of international flags or tablecloths showcasing different countries. Purchase flags online depicting South Korea, the United States, and the Olympic rings, or just grab a poster board from Dollar Tree and create flags of your own.
You can easily make these with construction paper, poster board, and markers. Or, you can take it a step further and make a giant logo out of multicolored hula hoops. (Amazon, $11.99)
Everyone wins! This 12-pack of plastic gold medals will put everyone in the Olympic spirit. (Amazon, $5.37)
American flag sunglasses
Can you go wrong with these patriotic sunglasses? No. No, you can’t. Plus, you can reuse them for the Fourth of July. (Amazon, $5.99 for 12 pairs)
International party picks
Skewer your hor d’oeuvres with this 50-pack of flag party picks. (Amazon, $5.12)
Use an Olympic torch as the centerpiece for your table. You can make one out of red, orange, and yellow tissue paper, or just use a real candle.
Some events actually start before the opening ceremonies. Grab a whiteboard from the dollar store, and keep a tally of the top 3-5 countries, or just record your favorites! You can see the current medal tally here.
Facts about South Korea
If we’re being honest, because the U.S. is such a world superpower, we rarely go out of our way to truly learn about other countries (save for the U.K.) because we don’t technically “need” to. Let’s change that! Write out interesting or surprising facts about South Korea on a posterboard. You might learn some really crazy things. Like did you know that South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world? (Sorry, L.A.) I made a list of my own if you want to check it out!
South Korean words/phrases
Write out how to say basic Korean phrases like “hello,” “good-bye,” and “thank you” phonetically and in Hangul (Korean alphabetic script).
Every successful party needs a great menu! And luckily, there is one important thing that South Korea and the U.S. have in common: barbecue. Both make it differently, but both versions are mouth-wateringly delicious. Here are simple menu suggestions if you want to go all out! Pick the American cuisine, pick the South Korean menu, or do both! It’s your wallet (and stomach). I also included links to recipes. However, not everyone wants to spend time cooking on a Friday afternoon after a 40-hour work week (I know I don’t), so I also included some store suggestions if you decide to take a shortcut.
’Murica: jalapeno poppers, chips and guac (Yes, I know this is Mexican-inspired, but guess what? In ‘Murica, we get to eat ERRRYTHING.)
’Murica: Apple pie and ice cream (This recipe is delicious, but honestly you’ll save money by just going to Costco. Also, their apple pie is the size of California.)
’Murica: Ice-cold American beer (so no Stella or Guinness allowed — unless you’re a Benedict Arnold)
South Korea: Good-old soju
To close, if watching the opening ceremonies just isn’t enough, I’d suggest pregaming with a viewing of Cool Runnings (1993). Yes, Cool Runnings. It’s one of the best overlooked Disney movies, and it’ll make you feel all the feels while reminding you of how much hard work goes into getting to the Olympics. Plus, here’s a fun fact: Hans Zimmer composed two songs in the movie soundtrack, so you know iz gon be epic. Also, you’ll be reminded of the good old times when Disney could actually say “badass mother” in a movie without getting sued. Enjoy!
“Nuff people say they know they can’t believe. Jamaica, we have a bobsled team.”