Blacklight events are a lot of fun for kids, teenagers, and even adults. Everything is just so much cooler when it's glowing. Ordinary games become glow games, boring paper becomes glow decor, coloring becomes glow art, the possibilities are endless, but figuring out where to start with a blacklight event can be overwhelming. There is a daunting amount of information out there, and choosing what to buy can be confusing. I remember the amount of research I put into planning my first blacklight event, it was crazy! Also, I may have been a bit obsessive and gone a little over the top. Three blacklight events later and I feel like I have the basics down, so that's what I'm bringing to you today. This is by no means a comprehensive post about everything you can do with blacklights, but it will definitely give you what you need to get started. Next week, I will be blogging about the Blacklight Lock-in we did recently and activities from our past blacklight events.
People will tell you that white and neon colors glow, but that's not always the case. Not everything that you think will glow actually does, but it might surprise you that some things do. For instance, some brands of toilet paper glow and some don't. I could spend several hours telling you my findings, but there is a much simpler solution. Buy a small blacklight flashlight like this one. People normally buy these flashlights for detecting stains or finding scorpions (yes, they do glow), but they are the perfect solution to finding out what glows. You can put this little flashlight in your purse or pocket and carry it around everywhere you go to see if things glow or not. This will save you a lot of time and money. With the flashlight in hand, before you buy anything, look around your house, church, or office to find all kinds of treasures that glow. White and neon items are the most likely, but don't count out other colors. Don't be surprised if you start thinking,"I wonder if that will glow under blacklight" about everything you see. It's perfectly normal.
The most important element in any blacklight event is (of course) the lighting. If you don't have the right amount of lighting, none of the other elements will matter. I have learned the hard way what really gets the job done, what sort of works, and what absolutely doesn't.
The most common blacklight bulbs that you will be able to find in most stores that sell party supplies are incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Do not waste your money on incandescent bulbs unless you are in a very small room and have no other options. We replaced 20-30 of our bulbs with incandescent blacklight bulbs for our first event, and I'm not sure if they did anything. They are the cheapest blacklight bulbs, but do not give you a good bang for your buck. Fluorescent bulbs are better options than incandescent bulbs, but still aren't going to be powerful enough to light up a huge room unless you have a lot of them. We have four of these fluorescent fixtures, but they are not enough to light up our Worship Center. These lights are best used for lighting specific activities, games, or tables.
The best lights for lighting a large room are most likely going to be found at stores that sell stage lighting or online. You can also rent them, but that can be quite costly on it's own. If you are on a tight budget, I would suggest reaching out to the people in your church or community. I was able to borrow all three of the lights we used for our last event, and they worked wonderfully. It only took three lights to light up the entire Worship Center, which is a very large space. I had two of these panels and one of these monsters. It's all about having the right bulbs.
This is my list of must-haves for any blacklight event. If you don't buy anything else, buy these items, and your event will be awesome!
I cannot emphasize how versatile and useful this item will be for your event. I would recommend you buy this 4-pack of neon tape if you have a bigger budget, and this 4-pack if you are on a tighter budget. The more expensive tape has better adhesive qualities, but the other tape still got the job done. You will want the big rolls of this tape because you can use it for almost everything. You can use this tape to hang decor, frame windows, make games, or outline stairs, stages, and doors. I was actually surprised that I had any of my tape left after the lock-in because we usually use it all up. You can also buy glow in the dark duct tape or the neon orange and neon pink duct tape. Those are the only types of duct tape that I have found that glows. However, duct tape tends to be more expensive, may leave a residue on floor and walls, and can also take the paint off walls.
2. Black Kraft Paper
You are going to want to buy this huge roll of black kraft paper. I bought this exact roll, and have used it for all three of my blacklight events and countless other events. This paper is perfect for blacking out any windows in your room, covering tables for glow art, and putting on the wall for glow art or decor. When you black out your windows with kraft paper you can frame them with neon tape and paint or draw on the paper with blacklight reactive paint or markers to add to the decor in the room. I have never regretted this purchase.
3. Glow Acrylic Paint
You can actually buy this stuff for only $2 a bottle at Walmart or any craft store. The Folk Art brand of acrylic paints has about 10 different colors of paint that are labeled glow. I use these paints on black kraft paper for decor, to make glow games, and allow the kids to paint directly on black kraft paper on covered tables or on the wall. They love it. Also, if it gets on the floor it can be scrubbed off if necessary. I wouldn't use this in a carpeted area though.
Remember the rule of checking your balloons before you buy them. Not all neon balloons will glow. I have paid more for these balloons because they said they were UV reactive, but I found that these much more affordable neon balloons glowed even better. You will pay about the same price for 100 of the more affordable ones as you would for 25 of the UV reactive balloons. Go for the cheaper and better option on this one. I believe only one of the 100 balloons had a hole in it, and they looked amazing. You can use balloons as decor or for any number of fun games at your event.
5. Glow Sticks
Glow sticks are easy because you can buy them pretty much anywhere at this point. However, I do find that you can get a better deal online if you buy in bulk. I bought this pack of 300, and it was more than enough. You can use glow sticks inside balloons for games or decor, for games, as accessories, or you can buy two different colors to have the kids wear so you can tell which team is which in the blacklight. Kids never get tired of glow sticks. The one thing that got them to go to sleep at our last lock-in was me threatening to take away their glow sticks.
6. Neon Paper/Cardstock/Poster board
The great thing about these items is that they are so affordable and versatile. You can create any shape to use for decor, signs, or glow art with the kids. You can find neon paper and card stock at any Walmart or office supply store. If you have a dollar store in your area, you should be able to find neon poster board there cheaper than Walmart, and you might even be able to find it already cut into fun shapes like this.
That's really all you should need to get started on planning your own blacklight event. If you would like more information on blacklight activities and games, check back next week for my blog post on our Blacklight Lock-in. You can also check me out on Pinterest. I have a board called Blacklight Lock-in that will give you more ideas as well.