Over the last few years I’ve hosted several Glow Parties, and I finally got a chance to pull together all my favorite blacklight party tips and glow party ideas into this Ultimate Guide for How to Throw a Black Light Party.
My love of blacklights goes way back to childhood. We actually used a blacklight to hunt scorpions in our backyard. Yes, SCORPIONS are a very unfortunate side effect of living in the desert, and YES, they glow under a blacklight. It’s actually one of the best ways to get rid of them. Get a stick, blacklight and go hunting along your fences, etc. It’s totally creepy, but as a teen, my friends and I thought it was pretty entertaining LOL! But that’s not exactly the type of black light party I’m talking about today.
Clearly Blacklights are a lot of fun, and I highly recommend having one on hand not just for scorpion hunting, but also for impromptu dance parties any old time — and a glowing dance party is twice as much fun! If you are looking for an excuse to throw a blacklight party, they are particularly great for tweens and teens birthday parties, since they have outgrown a lot of the kid party ideas. Glow parties are also fun for a Halloween Party, New Year’s Eve party or July 4th pool party.
Planning a black light party can be overwhelming — with the sheer number of glow party ideas and favor options, not to mention the number of blacklights available to buy on Amazon alone! You’re probably wondering: which blacklight is the best? Which things really glow?? What neon stuff do I really need??? It’s my goal today to answer these questions as well as to help simplify your black light party plan so that you can easily identify the glow party ideas that will get the most bang for your buck.
Be sure to pin this post, as well as check out my Glow Party Pinterest board. Once you’re through collecting glow party ideas (and really you’ve got to stop pinning sometime LOL!), use my Party Planning Worksheet so you can create a simplified, doable plan for a black light party that will be completely memorable without breaking the bank… or your back!
The Best Blacklight to Buy
The majority of the blacklights I’ve owned over the years have been the fluorescent tube variety. For a black light party, you’d need a bunch of these tubes to really get the whole room glowing. Many of the glowing objects need to be pretty close to the black light to get a nice, bright gleam. If you need 6, 10 even 12 blacklights, that’s going to add up FAST! That’s why when I was getting ready to host a big black light bash last year, I finally went on a hunt for the strongest black light out there.
I read what seemed like hundreds of reviews on Amazon, and I’m happy to say I found THE ONE! It’s an LED black light that is so bright it’s almost blinding. I did a side-by-side test with one of my old fluorescent tubes, and this LED Blacklight makes the old tube look pathetic — seriously like it isn’t even turned on LOL!
If you’ve got a moderately-sized room, you could totally make your whole black light party glow with this one light. Just be sure not to place it right at eye level (I wasn’t kidding when I said it’s blinding). If your party will flow between two rooms or to the outdoors, you might want to invest in another one of these. I haven’t even gotten out any of my other blacklights since I bought this one.
Glow Party Ideas & Essentials
You can easily go overboard buying party favors for a black light party. There is just so much fun, glowing stuff out there! I’m not advocating that you really skimp… having lots of things that glow is part of the fun, but here’s a round up of the items I think have the most impact and why.
Black Light Party Shopping Tips
Before we dive into my blacklight party favors round up, here are a few tips to help with shopping for your black light party. First, remember that not everything that looks neon will glow. When shopping for my glow parties, I carried a blacklight flashlight in my bag so I could check items at the store.
When shopping online (and really I should just say “on Amazon” LOL! I’m hooked on Prime shipping), I only purchased items that specifically said they glowed under a blacklight or UV light. I actually broke this rule once, when I bought these neon leis from Oriental Trading, which sadly did not glow. The Dollar Store is a great resource, but bring that flashlight!
The Coolest Neon Party Favors
Glowing Bubbles – Glowing bubbles are a lot of fun, but the blacklight reactive bubble solutions available on Amazon are SO expensive. Luckily it is super-easy to make your own! Check out my DIY Glow Bubbles recipe.
Glow Sticks – these are probably a given, but not just for necklaces and bracelets. These can double as glow party decor too: stick them in half of a styrofoam ball for a glowing centerpieces. Tape them on the wall in fun patterns or shapes. Attach them to the fan blades for some spinning glow action.
Fluorescent Balloons – I doubt I need to convince you that balloons are a good idea — I mean it is a party! A floor covered in balloons screams, “Party!” to me, and with glowing balloons it’s pure magic! They are also great for decorating the walls using these Command Balloon Bunchers. Easiest of all… just blow up a bunch and toss them on the floor — this is my favorite way. We did a trampoline glow party last spring, and I put about a dozen of these on our 14-foot trampoline, and the kids had a blast bouncing around with them. At that party we also tried these LED balloons, and they were pretty cool, but so expensive I’m not sure they were worth it.
UV Face Paint – a little goes a long way, which is good because glowing face paint is expensive. I prefer the squeeze tubes because they’re more sanitary than jars, and they glow much better than the stuff that comes in the palettes with brushes.
Flashing Jelly Rings – rings are always a hit with my kids, and these bumpy jelly rings have LED lights inside that flash (you squeeze them to turn on and off), in addition to several of the colors being blacklight reactive. We also love this Assorted Jelly Rings Set with some fun variations on the bumpy texture.
LED Slingshot Rocket Helicopters – These are an absolute must for an outdoor glow party. I first saw these Glowcopters when I visited the Eiffel tower this summer, and they can fly SUPER high. I bought one from the guy on the street that was selling them, which I never do, but they were really that cool that I had to have one to bring home. When I got home, I found them on Amazon and got a bunch for our July 4th pool party.
Glow-In-The-Dark Bouncy Balls – You can get a bunch of these balls without spending much, so they make great vase fillers, doing double-duty as party favor and decor.
Highlighters – use these for coloring craft projects (like coloring masks) instead of markers/crayons. Check to make sure your highlighters glow, and be sure you’re checking the actual ink and not just the plastic of the marker container. You can also use highlighters with white butcher paper to make glowing murals or tablecloths — just draw stripes, dots or doodles. (By the way this butcher paper is the perfect size for covering a standard folding table).
Here are a few more glowing items to consider, even though I didn’t have them handy for my photo:
:: Disco Light Bulb
:: Glowing Eyelashes
:: Glow Stars
:: Glow Nail Polish
:: Glow-In-The-Dark Slinkies
Black Light Party Decor
LIGHTBOX GLOW. I’m a big fan of Heidi Swapp’s Lightboxes, inspired by vintage marquees. Heidi recently released the Ligthbox Glow that uses a blacklight. It is SO DARN COOL — I knew I had to have one. Get yours here.
STREAMERS & TAPE. White crepe paper streamers glow, as well as some of my pink and orange rolls, but you’ll want to check the colors, since it varies by brand. (This is where that blacklight flashlight comes in handy!) Neon Flagging Tape (I bought mine at Home Depot so I can’t promise any of these glow, but I wanted you to know what I was talking about. It’s called flagging tape, even though it’s not adhesive. If you want actual tape that glows, try this neon gaffer’s tape.
PLATES, CUPS & NAPKINS. Party City’s website has one of the best selections I’ve seen of blacklight reactive plates, cups, napkins. If cost is an issue, remember most white things glow so use standard white napkins, paper plates and cutlery (just check your favorite brand ahead of time to verify it glows — Chinet plates glow). Go with clear plastic cups to show off your glowing beverage, plus most clear plastics have a blue glowing edge under black light.
SERVING PIECES. I am a pretty big fan of white serving pieces all the time, but a white plate will really help enhance the glowing effect of your food. If something glows really well, clear glass may be fun to show off the different color. Even if that particular food doesn’t glow, serve it on something white!
CAKE STANDS. Check your white cake stands, because most of them will be reflective. If you want to make a BIG impact look for Vaseline glass — there are a lot of antiques made from this glowing glass (also called Uranium Glass). I love my Mosser Glass Vaseline Cake Stand. Unfortunately Mosser discontinued this particular style a few years ago, but they do still make some other Vaseline glass cake stands.
Glowing Food Ideas
Every party needs food, and of course you want to have fun with glowing food at your black light party. I took a blacklight to my fridge and pantry and found a bunch of glowing food items — check out the full list below. Many of these aren’t technically glowing, they’re white and reflecting the blacklight, much like a white shirt would, but for our purposes that’s just as good as glowing!
At my Mad Lab Halloween dinner party, I setup a fun Italian Soda bar where guests could mix up their own glowing drinks using tonic water. For an easier option, you can make your favorite lemonade recipe, and substitute a quarter of the water with tonic water. Tonic water has a sort of bitter flavor, so you don’t want to use too much, but luckily you don’t need much of it to make things glow.
DON’T FORGET THE ICE! Glowing ice is one of my favorite glow party ideas, and it’s super easy. Freeze up a mixture of 1 part tonic water and 1 part filtered water to make your own glowing ice cubes. I love these sphere ice cube trays.
For Blacklight Party eats, Jello made with tonic water is a sure hit. Vanilla Ice Cream glows! Rice, Krispies, Marshmallows and Butter all glow — sounds like Rice Krispie Treats are a must!
A lot of baked goods (crackers, bread) will glow thanks to these glowing baking basics: sugar, salt, flour, butter, vegetable oil, milk and eggs.
Gummy worms, gummy bears, sour worms and peach rings… all glow. I tried to get a photo (above) of them glowing, but they aren’t as bright as the toys. Really only the clear and red bears look like they’re glowing n my photo, but I promise it was much better in person. Obviously it’s gross to chew with your mouth open, but my four year old was chewing up one of the sour gummy worms in the blacklight, and I kept catching glimpses of the glowing substance in her mouth LOL!
Glowing Snacks & Glow Party Meal Ideas
Looking for food to serve that is more filling? I’m happy to report that popcorn and Goldfish crackers glow — two of my family’s favorite party snacks! Also cheese and crackers glow. Below are some ideas for glowing meals:
- Hot Dogs – white bread, ketchup, mustard and mayo, all glow.
- Cheesy Macaroni & Cheese (recipe) – pasta, mozzarella, cream cheese, ricotta, butter and milk, all glow.
- Hawaiian Haystacks (white rice, pineapple, grated cheese, all glow. Plus milk, flower and butter in the gravy).
- White Chicken Chili (recipe) – milk, cream cheese, grated cheese, sour cream, all glow.
- Cold Cereal Bar – Rice Krispies, Cheerios, granola and milk, all glow.
Glowing Food List
CANDY & TREATS
Vanilla Ice Cream
Bright White Candy Melts
White & Pink Sprinkles (depending on brand)
Honey (not super bright)
Oreos (the cream)
Peanut Butter (not super bright, but it’s speckled)
Cereal (I checked Rice Krispies, Cheerios, & Quaker Granola)
SAVORIES & VEGGIES
Vegetable Oil (I checked, Olive, Soybean and Coconut)
Colby Jack Cheese
Ketchup (not super bright)
Pasta (whole wheat pasta doesn’t glow as much)
Lettuce (glows red where it was cut)
DIY Glow Party Crafts
Dancing around in the blacklight and checking out all the glowing stuff is sure to be the highlight of your glow party, but your guests will probably also need something to do. Here are some glow party crafts and activities. Click the images below to check out my tutorials for these fun blacklight party projects:155