DIY Karaoke Party Ideas

Karaoke parties don’t necessarily mean you need your own expensive microphones or X Box set up. If you have a smart TV or smartphone with screen mirroring, or even a laptop, or tablet and bluetooth, you can have an epic sing-off party if you just hire a bit of equipment from Simply Sparkles Party Lights and Sound!

We have two speakers and a cordless pair of microphones – both of which can connect via bluetooth to your phone or other smart device. Upload an app like Karaoke or Smule (we found Karaoke the easiest to use and you can pay a minimal fee for add-free karaoke for a week and then unsubscribe, if it’s just for one party) or just get into YouTube karaoke channels and the world is your shower (ahem, stage).

You can go with a theme, like a decade – 60s, 80s, 90s or noughties… or Disney anthems, grand Queen revivals or Rocky Horror Picture Show dance offs. Add a smoke machine, mirror ball and disco lights and the stage atmosphere comes alive! One of our favourite parties was where we all chose a song and sang it in a specific way, e.g. with a very depressed voice or with a gnome voice, or with Russian accents…. It was hilarious!

Important tips:

  1. Check your set-up before the party. Get your TV on, make sure the wifi is working, plug in the speakers and microphone controller, check the bluetooth is connected, etc. A little trouble shooting before you start will prevent any award ‘sorry we have a technical problem’ fiddly party pooper moments.
  2. Think of a few songs that you think might get the party started, and be prepared to open the show, or get a friend you know will enjoy the limelight to get everyone in the mood. Even better, get everyone to sing along with two of you leading on the mics. Shared singing is a real joy and gets everyone over their initial inhibitions.
  3. Switch on the mic. (seriously, this is the number one technical glitch!) There is only one button on our mics. You press it to mute between songs (to avoid nasty noises) and you press it again to turn it back on. To power off completely, you need to press the button and hold for a bit.
  4. DO NOT drop the mic! No matter how cool that sounds. No matter how tempted you are. Ignore the memes, please and Just. Don’t. It’s like dropping 1000 bucks down the toilet – mics are sensitive equipment.
  5. Check other music apps are switched off, closed or disabled. Some apps like Spotify might clash with the Karaoke app, causing a lot of frustration. If you need Spotify for the rest of the party, try uninstalling it on one person’s phone and keeping it on an iPad, laptop or someone else’s phone, or give yourself a minute (that really is all it takes) while everyone pours drinks, wipes away their tears of laughter about Tim’s solo, and reinstall. Just make sure you have your account password handy and it’s a speedy, seamless synch.
  6. Amp up the atmosphere. Great sound really helps get everyone in the mood, but you can do more. Decorate according to your theme. Disco lights are fabulous for getting the party game on. You don’t need a lot, just create a comfy area with some space to sit, some place to stand and play air guitar, and switch on some sparkly colour that moves to the music. A disco ball is awesome for a 60s or 70s theme karaoke too.
  7. Observe Karaoke Etiquette: It’s bad manners and no fun at all if one person keeps hogging the mic for ‘just’ another song, even if they are brilliant. Share! Keep dissing other people’s song choice to a minimum of good-natured teasing. People get shy enough about singing in public, so being teased can put them off altogether. Perhaps they chose the song because they find it easy to sing, in any case, not because it’s their all-time fave. Play nice!

USING THE KARAOKE APP with Simply Sparkles Speakers and your Screen mirror.

  1. Set up speakers and connect to your phone: watch the video here.
  2. Instead of using the chorded mic. plug in the control box for the two cordless mics.
  3. Open the Karaoke app (assuming you’ve installed it and created your account) and follow the instructions in the photos. They are in order of the screens as they will appear on your phone or iPad.

You need to select ‘solo’ even if you plan on singing a duet or in a group. This does not affect the microphones. ‘Start duet’ on the app means you will duet with someone online, not at your party.

Don’t allow the camera as you won’t be looking at the phone. Again, this is part of the social media use of the app and won’t help your live party.

Selecting ‘record’ gets everything started, so just press that ignore everything else.

And… SING! Together or solo, just belt it out!

TIPS for using the mic.

  • Check the mic is on, and that mute is off (press the button on the mic and watch the display – mute is a word that lights up if its on. Also check the mute is not selected on the controller (where there is a lock/unlock button next to the volume knob for each mic.),
  • Check the speakers are plugged in and switched on.
  • Check the microphone controller box is plugged into the speakers and switched on.
  • Check and adjust the volume on the mic controller box AND on the master volume of the speaker. Ask someone to help – when you are singing, it is often not easy to hear yourself as well as everyone else can, especially if the speakers are positioned across the room, near the TV for example.
  • Experiment with holding the mic at different distances from your mouth. Depending on how loud you can sing, you hold the mic closer or further away from you.
  • If you move, move the mic with you – if you start doing your famous air guitar impersonation with your mic hand, your voice will suddenly disappear!
  • When you finish, press the button on the mic once and check the MUTE indicator on the mic lights up. This prevents those horrible squeals and thumps when you put the mic down.
  • Don’t use the mic standing directly in front of the speakers, or you will get that nasty feedback squeal.
  • Check the mic is on by singing or speaking into it, NOT tapping it, which is not good for the equipment.

Party ideas for 60th, 70th and 80th birthdays and beyond

Every culture has its own way of celebrating birthday milestones, particularly the decades past 40. But things are always changing – we now see men and women well over 60 jogging around the neighbourhood in preparation for a major marathon, or taking part in mountain biking events, something that was rare indeed when I was a kid. Gone are the days of lavender rinses and curlers and grannies knitting doilies while grandpa smokes a pipe!

These guys were young in the swinging 60s and 70s, and can still shake a leg- so why stick to high tea and cake smashes as the best party themes? How about a super memorable dance party? I know my mother still enjoys a good dance and she’s hitting 70 next year. Hey, with a good knee replacement (or two), who knows how long my generation will one day be lip syncing to Queen and The Bangles?

There could be such a thing as going too far, of course. I attended a friend’s grandmother’s 80th in Dover, England, 20 years ago. It was a very large gathering at a local hall, and someone had booked a male stripper. There was a moment when this feisty but short-sighted lady in her wheelchair was enthusiastically rubbing baby oil on his back while he was clad in nothing but a red thong. This image is maddeningly difficult to erase from my mind 2 decades later!! I wouldn’t recommend this, but it did get me thinking!

Imagine my delight when I got a WhatsApp from a customer a short while ago, wanting to hire Simply Sparkles disco lights for her dad’s Sixtieth 60s disco party! Now that’s more like it!

A classic disco ball, a few coloured lights that move to the beat and some fairy lights to add extra glamour and fun, and there you go! Plug in your MP3 player or CD player or get out your Spotify playlists and speakers (you can ask the youngest grandkids to sort this out for you), and you’re good to go for a family-and-friends party in your home.

For a larger party with prepared speeches and toasts ,and perhaps someone singing a special serenade to your beloved uncle, gorgeous wife, dapper dad or fabulous granny, hire some simple to use speakers for better dance sound and a good quality microphone. Our speakers can handle anything from plugging into an electronic record-player outlet so you can spin that vinyl, to seamless bluetooth connection to any smart device, or USB input. We also offer a two cordless microphones which can be used with your smart TV or a tablet app for some first class insert-retro-decade-here karaoke fun!

dancing with grandma!

My stepdad turns out to have been quite the singer back in his youth. For his 80th birthday party, he not only had very clear ideas on what music he wanted from the 50s-70s, he also asked for the mics to be able to sing a song to my mum: Frank Sinatra’s ‘You make me feel so young’. We found the backing track on Youtube and set him up with the speakers, and it was a really special moment. Check out our post on setting up karaoke or singing with our blue tooth speakers and mic.

Get all the generations into some fun dance party games and you’ll all be laughing and dancing the night away as you celebrate that wonderful older person in your life. Remember to have lots of comfy chairs and plenty of great snacks and drinks to keep everyone going. Just don’t be too surprised if its the golden oldies who get up to the most mischief reliving their glory days on the dance floor!


To give your party that happy, bubbly feeling, we’ve added a fabulous bubble machine to our party hire services! Do I hear a few squeals of excitement? Oh wait, that was me.

Ahem, as I was saying… this nifty little machine has LED lights inside that change colour, to add extra rainbow dazzle, day or night (and keep your inner unicorn prancing).

If you just can’t blow the bubbles fast enough for the kids, or the birthday girl’s entrance, then this baby will keep ’em coming and delight your friends and family with a magical shower of pretty bubbles. And of course it adds that extra bit of celebratory fun to any dance party, whatever your age.

The machine hire price includes a couple of 250ml bottles of special bubble fluid that goes a long way. It’s also non-toxic, for that one friend who tries to pop bubbles with his mouth.

If you hire the bubble machine in addition to the disco lights package, it handily attaches to the same professional disco lights stand, for extra ease of use.

Glow in the dark party ideas

Glow in the dark parties, using black light UV lighting and neon or white clothes and decor, are all the rage with teens, pre-teens (or tweens) and younger kids as well as adults. My daughter had a glow in the dark dance party for her 12th birthday and we had such fun with the black lights we’ve added to our Simply Sparkles packages. We’ve all been going a little nuts researching things, trying out paint supplies and running around the house plugging in the black light to see what gets that glow in the dark wow factor!

You can have SO much fun with this as a basic theme all on its own, as part of a dance party (especially an 80s disco), or by using elements to jazz up your decorations for a futuristic or retro space / computer game (e.g. pac man) or fantasy parties like unicorn or fairy themes.

All you need is some imagination, a good strong black light (it’s which is a particular type of UV light spectrum that works much better than straight UV) some cool neon and white decorations, and UV, glow in the dark, neon or black light body paint or craft paint. A strobe light can add an extra touch of fun.

general tips

You’d be surprised what can glow in the dark, including tonic water (with quinine), so you can make the coolest glow in the dark cocktails for adults (GNT, you beauty!), or alcohol free mixes for kids, and even glow in the dark jelly (tip: replace the cold water in the recipe with tonic water and use litchi flavoured jelly from Pick ‘n’ Pay, as it is a pale white)! This only shines if close to a UV light and it does change the taste a little, so its best in small quantities. It is the quinine in tonic water that makes it glow, so check that this is one of the ingredients. When you add tonic water to the hot water jelly mixture, it tends to froth up quite a bit. Let the warm mixture cool a bit or at least make sure you are using a big container with room for the foam. The foam does settle down after a bit so you get a normal, smooth jelly.

Tonic water ice cubes glow amazingly well, and make an interesting addition to drinks.

Things we have at home that glow in the dark under the Simply Sparkles black light UV: a white plate, Bastion glow paint, black light glow face paint, highlighter and Sharpie, tonic water. Cool, hey?

For a list of interesting things that glow in the dark (with pictures), check out this website: science notes.

Local suppliers and resources in South Africa:


You can buy black light and neon body and craft paints at most PNA shops and other craft/ art supply stores like the Crafters’ Inn in Somerset West, or at a local Chinese shop that stocks party costumes, like China Town at Somerset Mall. If you are ordering larger quantities, it is worth checking out a local direct supplier like Bastion paint. Don’t forget ordinary neon felt tip pens and highlighters will also make fantastic signs and other decor!

There are four kinds of paint that work well. Most are available as either body (or face) paint OR craft paint. You can’t mix and match because of the chemicals, so check the label carefully.

  1. straight neon or white paint (which are bright even without the light so can be used again for sports events, etc.
  2. glow in the dark or UV glow paint
  3. Black light glow paint which is amazing and gives you a bigger colour range, including blue.
  4. Invisible UV paint (also useful to secretly mark expensive items in your home or bicycles) which only shows under UV light (I’ve been able to find this at PNA and online at Bastion Paint


Neon slinky springs (to hang down in spirals), reusable paper lanterns (white is good, paint them if you can’t find neon colours, or stick neon stickers on them), bunting and glow sticks are all usually available at your nearest Crazy Store or China Town.

We try to consider the environment (as well as our budget) and buy more of the kind of decor we can reuse or recycle (like the paper lanterns and bunting, which come out in various guises at lots of different parties) and fewer of the items that can’t be reused or recycled (like glow sticks or balloons). Remember some things you already own will seriously ‘pop’ in the UV light, like white serving platters and white picture frames, and anything neon like a frisbee or hula hoop, or neon post-it notes. When in doubt, buy cheap neon dot or star stickers and put them on all kinds of things. Our paper lanterns for a recent party didn’t glow much, so we just added the dot stickers and they looked amazing, with or without the lights.

Locally, CAB foods sell individual balloons (to avoid waste getting more than you need) in lots of neon colours that work well with our lights, like violet, blue, green, pink and yellow. They need to be fairly close to the light (in the same half of a larger room) to really zing., and the colour description must say ‘neon’ not just ‘bright’ or ‘electric’. Here’s what they look like deflated, in the day time and with the black light in a darkened room (the spotty one was from a packet of balloons at the Crazy Store:

Glow in the dark tape can be bought online at takealot. So can lots of other glow in the dark pens, toys, craft paint and glow sticks. They also stock glow in the dark pebbles in colour or green – or order some glow in the dark paint and paint garden pebbles. The glow in the dark paint needs to be ‘charged’ by daylight or lights in general and can fade with time. This doesn’t happen with the UV light – it gets supercharged and stays shiny, and a little paint goes much further under UV light. For instance, in the painting below, it glows without a UV light when the room is completely dark (it can’t be photographed), but even in the daytime you get a really cool glow if there is a proper UV light on it (and I can get a photo of it – yay!).

A painting I made on canvas for my son’s room with glow paint doubles up as Space party decor with a UV light


Game props can easily be made out of things you already have, with a few extra supplies like ordinary neon or white duct/ masking tape or glow in the dark tape from takealot. E.g. Bowling skittles made from plastic coke bottles filled with a little water, and wrapped in tape or painted to glow in the dark or tin cans decorated with the tape or white/neon dot stickers, and white tape used to mark the ‘bowling alley’.

You can use things you already have in unexpected ways, like any glow in the dark items from your kids’ bedrooms, or games like Twister – we just drew over our existing twister mat with matching highlighter colours. They don’t show up in ordinary light but look pretty cool in the UV light. Some laundry detergents glow in the dark, so experiment with that in your skittles etc. too! Office stationary supply shops (CNA, PNA. Waltons) have loads of large star burst shapes in neon colours (intended for sales displays) as well as neon cardboard for musical island (stand up musical chairs variation) games. Neon highlighters can be used as relay baton sticks for races, and so on.

Hot wheels car races or remote control robot races or obstacle courses are extra fun with a UV Light adding atmosphere. Glow stickers from crazy stores or Takealot will seriously pop!


White clothes, shoes and accessories are a great place to start, as these automatically stand out in the UV light. If you don’t own anything and don’t want to spend a fortune, try Pep stores school sections for some inexpensive white vests, white canvas shoes and T shirts to play with. Pearls, some diamonds and of course white plastic jewellery will also stand out, so wear the bling that will have some zing!

Neon accessories from a costume shop are loads of fun. We found everything from fingerless fishnet gloves to tutus, flowery head bands and trouser braces in neon at the Somerset Mall China Town.

Money saving tip: buy a box of cheap white or neon office stickers in different shapes (dots and stars work best) and put them on your clothes, jewellery or shoes (the outfit will look fun and last the party).

Anything neon, including swimming costumes, hair bands, craft string, shoelaces and cheap plastic jewellery or beads and craft wire will seriously zing. An old 80s trick: cut tassel strips at the bottom of white/ neon T shirts and their sleeves and string on plastic neon beads before knotting. These swing and glow and add a lot of fun to a glow in the dark party outfit. They can be cheaply bought at craft supply shops. You can paint your own neon or glow in the dark clothes using fabric paint from PNA or craft supply shops like Crafters Inn. Takealot also sell neon fabric paint online.

All glow stick earrings, headbands and bracelets will also look extra special under UV. Check out a Crazy Store, PNA or Chinese shop, or order online from Takealot.

A word of warning from someone who has survived partying in the 1990s… white underwear will glow right through thinner clothing, so choose your outfit with that in mind (so at least it’s deliberate if it shows and glows!).


Apart from drinks with tonic water, you can try tonic water ice cubes. We’ve experimented with neon food colouring from CAB foods and found that really only the neon pink gel colouring truly glowed under our lights. The only other neon colour they had at the time of writing was neon green, but that looked like yellow-brown poo, which was NOT the look we were hoping for! White mints glow really well, and for some reason so does the plain background biscuit of Zoo buscuits, while the colourful bits and white animals (which we had hoped would glow), didn’t.

More reliable for your food, is serving it on white or neon plates. My daughter discovered a rather cool trick: neon yellow paper cups, decorated with yellow highlighter. The highlighter is invisible in normal light, but under the black light UV… it glows! She put a cute secret message on all the cups for her party, which the other kids really loved.


Without a good black light UV light that spreads across a wide area, your glow in the dark party will not happen. The glow in the dark paints and decor items need to ‘charge’ with the light. Simply Sparkles offer a great black light UV for hire that can flood a large sitting room or garage with black light UV, and additional bulbs for other areas like a snack table. We have an additional two strobe lights for more UV effects. The main light can be set to move with your music’s beat, or to stay still during party games.

Check out some more great glow in the dark party ideas on Pinterest (seriously, how did we survive party planning without Pinterest???).

CONTACT Simply Sparkles party light hire if you would like to hire our glow in the dark lights, other disco lights and sound system. If you would like to commission a painting similar to the Space one or any other theme for your child’s bedroom or your theme party, please contact artist Marguerite MacRobert:

Forget the algorithm and dance to the beat!

Spend too much time in front of your computer? Maybe it’s time to close put the laptop to better use with all your playlists on iTunes or Spotify, and hook up to our bluetooth speakers? Just a thought… you can be a grown up for the rest of your life, but no one said you had to be mature ALL the time!

Check out our lights and sound packages. Easy to set up, with something for every kind of party. Free delivery in Somerset West and Strand, or collect your party-in-a-box yourself.