Let’s Have a Party: Black Light Edition
The decorations are up. The guest list is set. The party favors assembled. The food has been cooked or delivered—with reserves in the kitchen. You are ready to have a party. But wait, what about your party’s theme? We need to go beyond the superheroes and princesses, luaus and poker nights, and even that good ol’ standby, the All-American cookout to a theme guaranteed to be a “glowing” success. Let’s have a black light party, sure to fascinate adults and kids alike if you employ these brilliant tips.
We already know from the article How Do Black Lights Work, that black light is the result of ultraviolet light reacting with surfaces coated in UV-reactive phosphors. Those phosphors then begin to glow in a phenomenon called luminescence. While there are incandescent and LED black light bulbs, the most effective black lights are fluorescents. You can use fluorescent tubes or, CFL black light bulbs to create neon-coated fun for your partygoers.
The key to black light illumination is the absence of other light sources, so add some black kraft or butcher paper to cover up any windows or light-colored walls. Pastel or white walls and seepage from extra light sources can make your room seem brighter, lessening the effect of your black lights. Another idea is to schedule your party for an after sunset debut to ensure your space is at its darkest. To hang your kraft paper, use black duct tape or create a more interesting vista with neon-colored gaffer tape, typically used for stage productions. Black tablecloths and pure white flatware will definitely accentuate any luminous food you might be serving.
Décor and Party Favors
Once you have your lights in place and an appropriately pitch black room, you will need plenty of items with high phosphor counts to maximize the lighting effects. Glow sticks and fluorescent paints are go-to items that glow in the dark. (Glow sticks are very versatile and come in commercial or industrial grade. You will need lots of them, so buy in bulk.) You could make a radiant chandelier with glow sticks and stiff wire or outline your table settings by using glow jewelry as napkin rings. For an extra wow-factor, clear decorative bottles and jars filled with tonic water or adding the felt stick from a highlighter to plain water will brighten your surroundings. Add flashing LED party favors, like rings, necklaces, glasses, pens and hair clips, to your guests’ goodie bags for a fun way to accessorize.
Now it’s on to the best part: Food! Surprisingly, there several foods and condiments that glow in the dark. Dairy products like milk, vanilla ice cream, and yogurt will glow yellow under black lights. Eggs will glow one of two colors; while in the shell, a deep red or dark violet is present yet peeled, hard boiled eggs are bright white or yellow. Cooking oil, honey, caramel, maple syrup also register as a golden yellow hue under the lights. Make your chicken nuggets go nuclear by dipping them in ketchup, which has a dull yellow glow. Olive oil will take on an orange glimmer and, if you cook or toss your veggies in it, the oil will cause the vegetables to glow brighter. Freshly sliced fruits and vegetables will sometimes have a dull red light, and sliced oranges actually glow bright orange. Other ideas include placing glow sticks in paper cones for cotton candy for some carnival fun or using black light reflective foods like marshmallows or parmesan cheese to make food glow. Black light reflective foods don’t actually glow, they just look extra bright in black light; powdered sugar, pasta, and Rice Krispies are also included on that list.
Tonic water glows the best under black light and it doesn’t have to be resigned to just decoration. Although it’s rather bitter, you only need a small amount of tonic water to make other tasty treats light up. Use half water and half tonic to create dazzling Jello. Add a little tonic water to your lemonade mix, or any mostly clear-colored drink mix for a gleaming beverage. You can also make glowing ice cubes and serve your drinks in neon cups for the best effect. Glow in the dark cupcakes take a little more preparation but are worth the effort. Bake your cupcakes, then color white frosting with neon food coloring and freeze the cupcakes for an hour after frosting them. Make a neon green or orange gelatin using a cup of boiling water with three tablespoons of chilled tonic water. Dip the iced tops of your frozen cupcakes in the gelatin and refreeze for a few minutes.
Games and Entertainment
Remind your guests to wear white, and if they don’t mind a little extra color, you can haul out as many highlighters and paints as you can find and they can customize their outfits. Make a game out of your black light experience. I call it “Plain Jane”:
When everyone arrives, have all of your normal lights on. Have each guest find a partner and take 10 to 20 minutes to draw on each other's shirts in highlighters or fluorescent markers. I suggest fluorescent markers because it is harder to see in the regular light spectrum. After everyone has finished their drawings, turn off the regular lights and turn on the black lights. Guests will have a great time viewing the crazy design their partner came up with. You can have spare white t-shirts or square white cloths and safety pins for forgetful guests.
Glow sticks and water balloons are a fascinating combination. Activate and bend glow sticks (or glow bracelets) into empty water balloons, then just add water. Voilà! Your glow in the dark water balloon fight is ready to go, plus attendees can wear the glow sticks after. Round up the kids for a game of ring toss with glow necklaces and maybe a neon stake. Since you already have black paper on the walls and fluorescent markers at hand, save a blank space and invite people to draw or sign their names on your shimmering “wall of fame”. Flashing LEDs are not just made into jewelry, you can buy LED light up swords, flying discs, yo-yos, jump ropes, hula hoops, bouncing balls, or glowing bubble wands for party activities.
And there you have it, one black light-themed party. Use it for Halloween, tween birthday parties, or just to jazz up your next celebration. Please contact us if you have more neon-filled tips and suggestions, questions about black lights, or know the best way to incorporate a lava lamp into this glittering get-together. As always, our stunning staff at 1000Bulbs.com is also available to help you add more twinkle to your festivities.