Family Olympics

I come from a large Irish-Italian family. We’re loud, we like to eat, like to drink, and LOVE being together. Growing up there wasn’t a holiday that went by that we didn’t celebrate as a group, a summer we didn’t vacation at the beach together. There’s no such thing as a “small birthday party” when your family alone is over 30 people. But then we continued to grow up, people moved further away, schedules got more hectic. We still got together but it wasn’t as frequent and someone was always missing.

One of my favorite pictures my Grandma – shows her fun loving spirit!

In May of 2014, the matriarch of this crazy family, my grandma, passed away. Almost all of us were by her side in her final moments. My grandma was truly at her happiest when we were all together. As you can imagine it was a blow to our family.

To honor my grandma, I was determined to get my WHOLE FAMILY together. No excuses, everyone had to be there. And so began our Kelly Family Olympics weekend! This year we celebrated our 3rd Family Olympics, which is essentially a family reunion sleepover party where just our family gets together to bond, have fun, and celebrate the memory of my grandma and the others whom have passed. Plus a little light-hearted competitiveness. 

This year my partner-in-crime, my mom, and I pulled out all the stops! Planning an event like this isn’t for the faint of heart. While we went over the top because that’s just what we do, it is absolutely possible to scale back and have a fabulous gathering.

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The Itinerary

  • Friday Night Welcome Fiesta – My parents hosted a taco and nacho bar for people to serve themselves as they got in Friday night. Everyone was also promptly handed a frozen margarita upon arrival! For the most part everyone slept at my mom’s house or my Aunt’s house, in the same neighborhood. There were air mattresses everywhere!
  • Saturday Potluck and Olympic Games – There’s a lot of us, which means a lot of food and drinks are needed. Everyone contributes, which is fantastic. It takes a few emails to coordinate ahead of time but it’s worth it. We distribute the food committed between lunch and dinner and run the games in between. Oh and beer, there’s lots of beer!
  • Sunday Brunch and Goodbyes – Sunday is again, a potluck brunch. Everyone slowly packs up their cars and kids and heads out. For those who hadn’t jetted out of town early, we had a “medal ceremony.”



  • Decor – Because it’s all about the details…
    • My mom made a great yard sign using a tutorial I previously shared. It’s made from pallets and includes the locations of everyone in our family.
    • We had a massive banner made through VistaPrint. Everyone was pumped from the moment they pulled up to the house! Talk about making a statement!
    • Custom M&Ms were a cute and delicious treat.
    • Yes, we have a real trophy. My Uncle bought it after our first Olympics that he claimed victory (although that win is highly debated.)
  • Swag Bags – What’s a race without a swag bag? We had a fun sign in table at the front door where everyone was given their swag bag. These included shirts my mom and I made. The adults’ backs had our Run. Slide. Drink. design that echoed throughout the weekend. The kids’ backs said “Junior Olympian” and the babies were our “Cheering Squad.” Also, included in the bags were Welcome Letters, customized red Solo cups, shamrock tattoos, green rubber bracelets, “Firish Whiskey” (a combination of Fireball, Bailey’s Irish Crème and Crème de Menthe), trail mix and beer tickets. Kids got juice instead of whiskey, obviously.
  • Glow Stick Glasses – These were a surprise hit. We ordered glow stick glasses and put them out for people to grab. We thought it’d be a silly accent that only the kids would enjoy. To our surprise, every single person put them on! We also had clear beach balls with glow sticks inside. The kids loved those! 
  • Ice Cream Truck Surprise – What’s more refreshing in the Florida summer heat than ice cream?! Nothing, right? Through the services of Sunny Days Ice Cream, I had an ice cream truck come to our party, blaring its music and served everybody their favorite treat


The Games

There’s activities going on the whole weekend, whether it’s playing in the pool, throwing around a football, a casual volleyball match or an impromptu lip sync battle (yes, that really happened). Then there’s the official Family Olympics games, teams are assigned, scores are kept, and out comes the the fierce competitors!

  • Water Balloon Volleyball – This was a warm up game, not an official game of the Olympics, but such a blast! We split up into 2 teams everyone grabbed a partner and a towel. The goal was to “volley” a water balloon back and forth over the net without letting it hit the ground and break. You caught and launched the water balloon using the towel. 
  • Extreme Tic-Tac-Toe – This one’s been all over the internet lately. You draw a large tic-tac-toe board (we used painters tape), across the yard 2 teams lined up, each with 3 rags, on “go” the first person on each team races and drops a rag in a square, runs back and tags the next person. The 4th person to go moves one of the previously placed rags. The first team to get tic-tac-toe wins! (Sadly, there was so much going on, I didn’t get any pictures of this game.)
  • Dress Up – This was my favorite! Each team had a box, the contents inside were unknown to them. The first person on each team raced to the box and put 3 of the items on, raced back to their team, and took the items off. The next person put the items on, ran to the box and added one more item. The team members raced back and forth adding an item every time until all the items in the box were on. 
  • Run. Slide. Drink. – Every year I have to include a game that uses the slip’n’slide. This year’s game had 2 teams racing, first, under a water squirting limbo stick, then over a water squirting hurdle, down the slip’n’slide, to a table, chug a beer (or gatorade for minors/non-drinkers), throw up your hand to signal next team member to go. First team to have all members finish wins!
  • Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum, In a Dish – This was our tie breaker. A piece of gum bubble gum is placed on a plate and covered in whipped cream, one for each contestant. The first person to find the piece of gum, without using their hands, and blow a bubble, wins for their team!

Keep an eye out for my next post with full details on these games and some great games we’ve played in past years.

In am lucky that I come from a fun-loving family. We had 100% participation, everyone’s a good sport and they’re up for any crazy challenge I throw their way. Now it’s your turn, round up the family, have some fun, and finish off the summer with a bang!

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