A Glow In the Dark Party using a black light is quickly becoming our family’s go-to party theme. Over the last few years, I’ve hosted several “Dark Parties” with my kiddos, that’s what I like to call black light glow parties. Black light parties are an easy way to go for birthdays. If your kids have outgrown themed parties but still want to have a birthday party but nothing too cheesy… I promise tweens and teens will love a good glow party. If you suggest a black light party it will make you a total #coolmom.
I finally got a chance to pull together all my favorite dark party ideas and black light party hacks to create this Ultimate Guide for How to Throw The BEST Glow Party!
I’ve included all the great ideas and tips you could possibly need. Get ready… this is a fun one!
My love of black lights goes back to my own childhood. We actually used a black light 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 black light. It’s actually one of the best ways to get rid of them. Get a stick, black light 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 glow in the dark party I’m talking about today — although if you live in the desert you should totally do it!
Clearly Black lights 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 DANCE glow party is twice as much fun! If you are looking for an excuse to throw a black light party, they are particularly great for tweens and teens birthday parties, who are “too cool” for a lot of the traditional kid party ideas. A Glow party is also fun for a Halloween Party, New Year’s Eve party or July 4th pool party. The best part is that once you’ve thrown one dark party, you’ll pretty much be set to celebrate any old time! I mean it’s pretty much a perfect go-to for any party that’s at night!
How to Host a Glow IN THE DARK 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 black light bulbs available to buy on Amazon alone! You’re probably wondering:
- Which black light is the best?
- Which things will really glow in the dark??
- What glow in the dark party stuff do I really need???
- What food actually glows?
It’s my goal to simplify your glow in the dark party plan by answering these questions plus help you identify the black light party ideas that will get the most bang for your buck.
A Glow in the Dark Party is actually a really easy party to host because the black light provides instant WOW! factor
I think a Glow in the Dark Party is actually a really easy party to host because the black light provides instant WOW! factor and from there you can add in as many glowing goodies as you’d like or as your budget allows. Invite all your friends to wear white tees, and you’ll already be glowing strong ;)
Be sure to pin this post, as well as check out my Glow in the Dark 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 your black light party that will be completely memorable without breaking the bank… or your back!
The Best Type of Black Light to Buy FOR YOUR PARTY
Since a glow in the dark party is all about the black light, let’s talk about the best ultraviolet light to buy and how many black lights you’ll need for your glow party. I’m all about being frugal, but for a glow party your black light is not the place where you want to skimp. When the regular lights are turned off, you really need a bright light that can light up the entire room! Luckily I have found a terrific blacklight that’s not too pricey.
The majority of the black lights I’ve owned over the years have been the fluorescent lights — that 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 lights to get a nice, bright gleam. If you need 6, 10, or even 12 incandescent or fluorescent tube 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. Turns out LED is the best way to go.
A glow party is all about the blacklight. Seriously this is not the place where you want to skimp.
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 had the best effect. It makes the old tube light look pathetic — seriously like I was thinking “is this thing even turned on?” LOL!
How Many Black lights Do I Need for a Party?
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 lights. I haven’t even gotten out any of my other blacklights for a glow party since I bought this one — it’s seriously the best.
Alright, mama warriors, gather ’round for a mind-blowing discovery that’ll add a splash of radiance to your epic neon glow party! So, picture this: a dark room, plenty of party guests. Now, grab that trusty jar of… PETROLEUM JELLY?! What?? It’s not that kind of party… or is it? LOL! Guess what? It turns out our go-to ointment moonlights as a secret glow-getter! Swipe a bit on those tiny hands, and voila – you’ve got instant glowing body paint! Just think of hand constellations lighting up the night. It’s like having a mini rave party in your living room. Who knew petroleum jelly could moonlight as a glow-in-the-dark sidekick? Go ahead, try it, and prepare to be the coolest mom on the block!
More glowing goodies: white paper (seriously easy), highlighter pens, neon fabric, neon paint, most white clothes and some hula hoop varieties (check with a blacklight flashlight). Also tonic water glows… just so you know. Think glowing ice cubes in your party drinks! Keep on reading for my comprehensive list of glowing party supplies and the best ideas that go beyond neon colors, plus all the glowing party food you can handle.
GLOW IN THE Dark Party Supplies
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 necessarily advocating that you really skimp… having lots of things that glow is part of the fun at this type of party, but the good news is the supplies is the place you can totally cut back to stay in your budget.? Here’s a round up of the items that I think have the most glow party impact and why.
Glow In The Dark Party Shopping Tips
Before we dive into my black light party favors round up, here are a few tips to help with shopping for your glow in the dark party. Most important: remember that not everything that looks neon will glow. When shopping for my glow parties at the dollar store or party stores, I carried a blacklight flashlight in my bag so I could check items at the store.
It’s important to remember that not everything that looks neon will actually glow in the black light.
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!
SUPER-TIP: After my first glow party was over, I boxed up all the glowing goodies and fluorescent materials in a box together rather than storing them away with my normal party stuff. This helped me to easily keep track of the special stuff that glows. It also made it super easy to throw together an impromptu glow party when my kids wanted to have friends over on a random Friday night. Throwing a Glow Party with just a few moments notice is a total #SupermomMoment.
The Coolest GLOW Party Favors
FROM TOP LEFT:
Glow in the Dark 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 – Obvi, right?! These are definitely 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.
Neon 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.
Neon Face Paints – 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. You can also skip this and just use the petroleum jelly thing I mentioned above.
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:
White Gloves – It doesn’t even have to be neon to glow — almost anything white will look amazing under a blacklight. White gloves are a lot of fun to make people’s hands stand out and they double as a party favor and activity. For an activity, give everyone a pair of gloves and teach one of those elementary school hand clap games (remember “Ms. Susie”) to guests during the dark party. Or split into groups and make up a secret handshake to perform for everyone.
There are so many great Glow Party Favors out there the toughest part will be to stick to your budget!
GLOW IN THE DARK Party Decor
Now let’s talk a bit about Glow Party decor. I checked a bunch of decor with my blacklight and below I share my results. Of course the Fluorescent Balloons I mentioned above can double as decor for your glow party, and here are a few more party decor ideas that will maximize your party’s glow!
FLUORESCENT PAINTS. You can get neon tempera paint or acrylic paint for making decorations that will glow. You can also use glow-in-the-dark paint. One low-cost idea: try painting a whole pack of paper plates different colors and hang them from the wall with masking tape. You could also paint rocks for playing games or using as decor.
WHITE PAPER LUNCH BAGS. Either painted with designs or just left alone these will totally glow! Setup luminaries with battery-operated tealights or make an activity out of gluing googly eyes and yarn onto bags to make fun glowing hand puppets. You can also use white lunch sacks to hold party favors.
OTHER LIGHTING. Remember to incorporate other kinds of lights too. They don’t have to be black lights to add to your glow party vibe. Think Christmas String Lights or LED Strips. This colorful, rotating strobe ball light adds a ton of fun!
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 white serving pieces are a must for a glow party! A white plate will help enhance the glowing effect of your food table. If something glows really well, clear glass can be fun to show off the different color. Even if that particular food does not glow, serve it on something white!
CAKE STANDS & URANIUM GLASS. 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 FOR A BLACKLIGHT PARTY
Every party needs food, and of course you want to have fun with glowing food at your glow party. I took a blacklight to my fridge and pantry and found a bunch of glowing food items — check out the full list below. Scientifically speaking, many of these foods 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!
The one edible that glows the very best… TONIC WATER. It glows a rich, bright blue because of the quinine in it (as shown in my photo above with the beverage dispenser on a Vaseline glass cake stand). Tonic water is easy to incorporate in your blacklight party drinks.
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 food, Jello made with tonic water is a sure hit.?Tonic water can also be used as a substitute for water in most recipes. I’ve never tried baking with it, but now I’m curious.
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. Don’t forget about Cotton Candy, especially white cotton candy, but really all colors glow really beautifully!
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 MASTER List
- Gummy Worms
- Gummy Bears
- Sour Worms
- Peach Rings
- Cotton Candy
- Vanilla Ice Cream
- Bright White Candy Melts
- White & Pink Sprinkles (depending on brand)
These snacks are a great way to sneak some healthier foods into your glow partygoers.
- Shredded Coconut
- Honey (not super bright)
- Cut Pineapple
- Sliced Oranges
- Oreos (the cream)
- Peanut Butter (not super bright, but it’s speckled)
- Cereal (I checked Rice Krispies, Cheerios, & Quaker Granola)
SAVORIES & VEGGIES
- Goldfish Crackers
- Ritz Crackers
- Vegetable Oil (I checked, Olive, Soybean and Coconut)
- Sour Cream
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Colby Jack Cheese
- String Cheese
- Cottage Cheese
- Ricotta Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Ketchup (not super bright)
- Pasta (whole wheat pasta doesn’t glow as much)
- White Bread
- Tortilla Chips
- Potato Chips
- Sliced Peppers
- Sliced Squash
- Lettuce (glows red where it was cut)
DIY Glow Party Crafts
The great thing about a Dark Party is that dancing around in the blacklight and checking out all the glowing stuff is sure to be a good time, but your guests might want a little something more to do. Here are some glow party crafts and activities. Click the images below to check out my tutorials for these super fun ideas for blacklight party projects:
Phew! That was a lot of info. Hopefully now you feel like you’ve got an excellent idea on how to make your next party a glow one!
- Easy Homemade Applesauce Recipe in a Crockpot
- Easy Fiesta Decor & Piñata Fringe Cut File
- DIY Nature Journal: Easy Beginner Cricut Project
- Fun Family Game: Cover Your Assets Game Review
- Free Printable Water Gun Targets
- Fun Activities for Roald Dahl’s BFG Book
- Make Your Own Globe & Earth Day Ideas
- Rock Star Baby Shower Ideas
- Easy Googly Eye Pumpkins
- Winnie the Pooh Movie Playdate
- Army Birthday Boot Camp Party
- Elephant Baby Shower Invitation