Every four years, my body gets taken over by a strange fever, one that causes me to walk around town with arms swaying like a conductor with an invisible orchestra as the Olympic Anthem blares in my ears.

Go ahead, give it a listen. I'll wait. Don't you feel more patriotic, more connected with the world already?

This Friday, July 27, the Opening Ceremonies kick off the Summer Olympic Games in London. While most of London is scurrying to find its seats, I'm wondering what I'm going to serve at my party.

The way I see it, if you're planning to host an Olympic-inspired Opening Ceremonies party, you can either go London, go local, or go home.

Go London

It's a common myth that English food is on the bland side, but before you start skipping London's signature fare, be advised: There are plenty tasty cross-pond dishes to be made and shared.

Our Favorite English Recipes include classic London fare including scones, fish & chips, and, of course, Pimm's Cup, a cocktail that gets its name from Pimm's No. 1 Cup, a British liqueur based on gin. For dessert, serve up Earl Grey Tea Cookies:


Now that you've got the menu down, get those invitations in the e(mail)! Pick a fun online invitation and send it to your friends to get them in the spirit. We're loving this one from Paperless Post:


Finishing touch? Suggest that guests don hats, or provide DIY fascinators for the event. Pick up some hair combs, a few feathers, and a little super glue, just remember to use the glue before you start pouring the Pimm's.

Go Local

If going all-London seems a bit much for your crowd (and your planning abilities), then make Friday's gathering a potluck. Assign each guest a country and ask them to bring a dish inspired by the local cuisine. Get them started with a few suggestions, then provide mini flags from the various countries so that each guest can cheer on their team as they march in the Opening Ceremonies.

Italian fans might go for take-out pizza, but they could also bring any number of mouthwatering appetizers, cheeses, or pasta dishes. Suggest these Open-face Caprese Sandwiches:


A guest assigned to cheer on the Mexican team might bring a dish of enchiladas or the makings for tacos, but she could also make a killer batch of margaritas:


You can assign countries with easy, iconic food choices (think Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, or any tropical island) or allow guests to select their own; who knows, you may learn that you LOVE German food. 'Tis the season to grill some sausage!Go Home

Sometimes, the best parties are the ones you don't plan ahead. If Friday evening rolls around and you decide you want to have the gang over for drinks and world-wide warm fuzzies, stop by your local grocery or pizzeria and pick up ready-made dough, marinara sauce, and a few simple toppings. Let guests customize their pies then toss them on the grill. Grilled pizza is easy, festive, fun, and, most importantly, easy to clean up.


Veggie Grilled PizzaHowever you celebrate the Opening Ceremonies, make sure you do it with friends and in style. To a fabulous 2012 Summer Games!

By Ashley Kappel and Ashley Kappel