How to Host the Perfect Blacklight Glow Party
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This is the most informative set of how-to instructions for a glow party you'll find on the internet. Don't see what you need? Send me an email.
The first thing we needed to do was set the mood for our glow party. Below is a copy of the invitation we used...
We wanted to make sure the kids were prepared for lots of glowing fun so we included the following insert with their invitation, giving parents ideas of how to dress the kids for the blacklights.
One thing people might not realize when planning a blacklight party, a.k.a. glow-in-the-dark party or glow party, is that NOT everything that LOOKS neon is UV-reactive which means that not everything that looks like it would glow actually GLOWS under blacklight. The best thing to do before you start buying things for your party is to get a UV flashlight like this one.
This is the same kind of flashlight you would use to look for scorpions (Yes, they DO glow but don't buy one for your party!). You don't have to spend a ton of money on this but it's important to have at least one when getting ready for your party. You can get a decent one for anywhere from $5-$15. Here's a sample of some I found on Amazon. Just search for UV flashlight and you should find lots of choices. Here's why you want one BEFORE the party...
You might surprise yourself with the things you already have in your house that glow. My daughter had tons of fun one night running around the house with the UV flashlight and bringing back things that glow. Just about anything white will glow a really cool blue color so don't count those out! We found some nail polish, various clothing, some of her room decor including a throw blanket and some pillows, a beading kit, some plastic popcorn bowls, and other things that surprised us with their glowing color under UV light. Make a list of things you might be able to use for decorations before you start buying.
Now to the fun shopping part...
I spent probably 20 or more hours scouring the internet for good sources of glow items and making decisions on what to buy. You don't need everything, but to start off, here are some things I think you HAVE to have:
1) BLACKLIGHTS (duh)
which come in two basic types:
I HIGHLY recommend that you spend the money here and get as many blacklight tube fixtures as you can afford. It is better to have two 48" blacklight tube fixtures than 10 of the blacklight bulbs. Blacklight tubes put out a great deal of blacklight. You may be very disappointed with lightbulbs on the night of your party. There is a reason they are so inexpensive. They really don't work very well.
You might be asking how many lights you will need. This really depends on how large your room is, including your ceiling height. In a standard 10' x 10' room, a 48" tube light does a pretty good job lighting the entire room if it is mounted near the ceiling.
A good source for blacklights is Blacklight.com or American DJ (a bit more expensive but also a good source for strobe lights and other lighting effects) but you can find good deals on Amazon and Ebay as well. Another tip is to wait until after Halloween and buy them on clearance. Put them away until you're ready for your party.
2) A DARK ROOM (another duh)
It may seem obvious that you need a dark room in order to have a blacklight party but I mean it- you need a really dark room. Plan your party for after the sun goes down and if you have street lights outside, or are having the party on the night of a full moon, prepare yourself ahead of time by covering your windows and walls. Even light-colored walls can give off the illusion that the room is brighter than it is. Which leads me to the next thing you really should have...
3) BLACK KRAFT PAPER/BUTCHER PAPER ROLLS
I bought my black "fadeless art paper" 48" x 50' roll at a local teacher supply store (Parent Teacher Connection in Tucson) for $22. It went a long way and was well worth it.
How do you hang the paper? So glad you asked. That leads me to #4 on the Things You Should Have list...
4) UV-Reactive Gaffer Tape
This is the COOLEST stuff to have for a blacklight party. Gaffer tape is typically used by stagehands and prop departments for blocking and marking a stage for a play or performance. It is HIGHLY UV-reactive, has good adhesion while still being removable, and comes in various widths so you can use it to decorate in a huge variety of ways.
Run gaffer tape around the edges of your black kraft paper to stick it to the wall and the result is a glowing neon frame! You can line doorways, write words, stick it in patterns around vases, make designs on serving platters, mark the outline of a dance floor, and more. There are so many uses for this stuff, I just can't even get into them all. The point is... spend the money on gaffer tape. If you don't buy much else that glows, this will go a long way.
More things you may want for your party...
Let me just tell you that from experience, there are GOOD glowing paints and there are BAD glowing paints. Unfortunately, the good ones tend to be pretty pricey. The photo above is for Wildfire Luminescent Paint which is FABULOUS (For more information and to browse their store, visit Wildfire FX) . If you've ever been on Rockin' Rollercoaster, you'll know what Wildfire paints look like in use. They REALLY glow and they have great coverage which means you don't need as much. Some acrylic paints at your local craft store will glow, but you should take the UV flashlight you bought (I know you bookmarked this page and ran out to get one, didn't you?) with you to check the glow quality. Remember that the cheaper paints tend to be thinner so you may end up having to do three or more coats to get good glowing color. This ends up being a money waster and a big time waster too.
So- what to paint with these cool paints?
Remember that black craft paper roll you have on your shopping list? THAT is a great place to start! Get out your paint brushes and start splattering! Graffiti, handprints, peace signs, guests' names, splotches and random splashes of color are all easy and will look very cool when you turn on those blacklights. Just look at this glow wall...
How did I do the rest of the vase? Easy peasy. The zebra print is just black & white wrapping paper wrapped around a tall glass cylinder vase. I fastened the wrapping paper to the vase with guess what? Yes! Gaffer tape! Just for fun, I left a 1/2" gap at the bottom of the vase so that I could slip a glow bracelet in the bottom just before the party started. Since we're talking about GLOW bracelets, another thing you might want to have at your party is...
GLOW STICKS, BRACELETS, & NECKLACES
You'll find these everywhere cheap, cheap, cheap! Dollar Tree sells tubes of 10 sticks for $1 and I see them at Target & Michaels in their dollar sections on a regular basis too. There are SO many uses for these at a glow party. The obvious thing to do is to hand them out to guests to wear at the party. But there are not-so-obvious uses for them as well:
In the photo above, glow sticks and glowing "ice cubes" light up simple clear cylinder vases filled with water for a cool effect.
Look closely in the photo above and you'll see the eerie green glow of the lemonade. There are very few drinks that glow (some say Mountain Dew but it is minimal), especially for kids (tonic water would probably not be accepted well by 8-year-olds). Glow sticks are an easy and fun way to light up your drink. Just to play it safe, put your glow sticks in a clear container like a vase and set it down into your drink container so that if it were to rupture, the contents (although supposedly non-toxic) won't mix with the beverage.
The balloons shown above are specifically designed to glow in blacklight. Remember that just because the colors look bright in the store, doesn't mean they will glow. Take your trusty UV flashlight with you, or order your glowing balloons from here: Blacklight.com
GLOWING CUTLERY AND UV-REACTIVE PLASTICWARE
The glowing cutlery above is from Glowsource. They have a ton of fun glowing items you'll be wanting once you visit their site.
The above photos are products found at Blacklight.com. Their plastic partyware is very reasonably priced, particularly their serving platters and chip bowls. If you take care of them, you can use them again for your next glow party!
FLUORESCENT POSTER BOARD
Get out your scissors and die-cutters and have a blast! Ok, so maybe cutting them out isn't that much fun. I cheated and used my Cricut machine but if you do a few a day in front of your favorite show, you'll be done before you know it. The sheer number of glowing wall decorations you can get out of a single sheet of poster board will astonish you. You can cheaply buy it at Office Depot, Walmart, and craft stores. In the photo below you can see peace signs and hearts I cut out of poster board and put up on the wall on the right...
In addition to covering walls with black paper, I also covered an 8' x 10' wall in my entryway with white paper and left a basket of hilighters in a prominent place nearby. Guests enjoyed leaving the birthday girl glowing wishes and who doesn't love being allowed to write on a wall???
You might think that fiber optics are an expense you don't want, however, I have found a good source where they are actually very reasonably priced... Save On Crafts . Besides their fiber optic centerpieces for under $5, they have these fun barrettes called Glowbys which in addition to being fun to use in your hair, make great accents on cakes and food trays (see the use of them on the photo above).
You can find Glowbys here: Save On Crafts
So your house is glowing with neon. Now what do you do to entertain these kids???
FUN ACTIVITIES AT A GLOW PARTY
Host a Glow-in-the-Dark Scavenger Hunt:
This involved some work on my part, but the kids LOVED it. I purchased invisible ink pens (enough for each child to have one, plus a few extras) on Ebay. I also purchased a mini UV flashlight for each child (yes, the same ones I told you to buy earlier but smaller) also on Ebay. Before the party, I wrote letters of the alphabet to spell out the location of a top-secret prize on individual index cards in invisible ink. When we were ready for the scavenger hunt, I broke kids into teams and sent them into another room with their goodie bags to prepare for the hunt. Their goodie bags were fluorescent rope-handled bags with the following:
an assortment of hilighters
a blacklight bulb
an invisible ink pen
a mini UV flashlight
a mini notepad
some black velvet stickers to color
an assortment of fun candies including a pack of light-up gummy worms
Also in the bag was a Top Secret Decoder sheet with blank lines making up a Secret Message. Kids were to go through their goodie bags and prepare for a top-secret mission. They were to get out their UV flashlights, a hilighter, and their decoder sheets and come up with team names. In the meantime, I and a group of cohorts ran like mad hiding the invisible ink lettered cards and turning out the lights INCLUDING THE BLACKLIGHTS. In about five minutes, I was giving kids instructions. They were to use their UV flashlights and search for letters. When they found them, they were to write them on their sheets and then unscramble them to spell out the location of a secret prize. I yelled "Go!" and they were off in complete darkness except for the purple glow of their UV flashlights. The hunt took about thirty minutes for the kids to find and unscramble all of the letters and claim their prize. I was told after the party that this was one of the most fun games they've ever played!! :)
Host a Dance Party
Both before and after the scavenger hunt, kids enjoyed dancing in the blacklights accompanied by a disco ball and a strobe light to today's hit music. I provided more glowing balloons to toss into a glowing basketball hoops, as well as a glowing jumprope for a game of limbo. Blacklights + music = instant fun without much parent involvement!
Hold a Glowing Autograph or Graffiti Session
In addition to the graffiti wall you can set up with hilighters, have guests wear white t-shirts to the party and have them get autographs. Kids will love the chance to write all over each other with hilighters. Just be sure to set the ground rules first. If you don't want to see them with hilighter "make-up" and tattoos, or if you don't want hilighter on your furniture, make sure you tell them first or save this activity for older guests!
Don't forget to send Thank You cards!
A fun reminder for guests is to send thank you cards with photos of the party. Taking photos of a blacklight party can be VERY difficult so I have a few hints that I got from a photographer friend of mine.
1) When photographing your glowing items, DON'T use a flash! While you'll be able to see everything in your photos, the glowing effect will be gone.
2) Set your shutter speed as low as you can and keep a steady hand. Because it will be dark, you will need the shutter to remain open long enough to let the light of your glow items in. The longer the shutter is open, the more chance their is to get blurry pictures, particularly motion blur if what you are photographing is moving. Be prepared to play with the settings beforehand so you're not missing out on the pictures the night of the party.
Here is a forum with some more help on
Photographing Glow Stuff
As always, I am here to answer your questions and help you to have a fabulous party. If you need custom invitations, favors, or help with decorations or personalized party decor, give me a call at THE FAVOR MAKER 520-299-0831 or visit our website at www.thefavormaker.com.