How to DIY and play a life size game of HUMAN glow in the dark PacMan!

Ever wished you could play a classic arcade game like PacMan, only life-size, with actual people? At Simply Sparkles, we love to make parties extra fun, and we’re always up for a creative challenge, like a real-life version of a game like PacMan which people can actually play. Then we like to level it up, with our super cool UV blacklight so it really has an arcade game vibe. Bonus points if we can do most of it with normal household supplies, something recycled, and on a budget!

So, when my son asked for a ‘computer games party without computers’ we rose to the challenge and as PacMan was back in thanks to the movie Game On … the rest was history! We also made a string laser maze in the garden, and had Plants vs Zombies attached to balloons that they could shoot with nerf guns. It was awesome.

Suitable for ages 5 and up, you can play this as a cool party game or even in your own household if you have a minimum of 3 people: one PacMan, at least one ghost and a person to referee and change the music (or do human sound effects, if you are my husband!). The maximum number of people depends a lot on the size space you are dealing with and the number of kids you can handle, as it gets fairly exciting and chaotic at times. We found for younger kids in a living room situation, 3 ghosts and 1 PacMan was the upper limit, so we made sure to allocate turns and had the spectators on the sofa really giggling as they waited for their turn. This can be almost as fun to watch as it is to play!

Supplies for making a life-size, human glow in the dark PacMan game:

  • A4 neon / fluorescent coloured card: 2 x yellow, 2 x pink, 2 x orange, 2 x blue/green
  • A4 white paper
  • A5 black paper or round black stickers (about 1cm or 1/2 inch wide) – or a black marker but I think cutouts looked nice
  • string or wool
  • hole punch
  • a side plate (to mark the top of the ghost shape and the PacMan)
  • an egg cup or small glass, like a sherry/highball glass (to mark the eye shapes)
  • a small circle stencil or other round object (approx 1cm or 1inch wide) to mark the eye pupils
  • scissors
  • a pencil
  • masking tape (the kind used to mask things while painting- not duct tape) approximately 2cm / 1 inch wide (white or ordinary cream-coloured painters tape – it needs to glow in the dark and thankfully the standard-coloured one does). You’ll probably need the whole roll or even more, so keep it inexpensive, and it mustn’t mess up your floors. We have hardwood floors and masking tape was fine. I have no idea what works on carpets, sorry.
  • plastic bottle tops like milk bottle tops – as many as you can get. We save ours for up-cycling and recycling projects so we had a big jar full. If you don’t have time to save them up, ask your friends, or you can use paper dots. Bright coloured lids that will glow are helpful, or you can paint them or stick on inexpensive office supply dot stickers in neon – those guys glow! People also use coloured ball-pool balls, but the less they can fly around the room if knocked, the better! You need lots in one colour and then a handful in another colour to be the ones to tell PacMan he can hunt the ghosts.
  • PacMan sound-effect music and a device to play it on, or a willing beep-beeper person who understands the game and has a good sense of fun.
  • Some pieces of fluro paper or painted jar lids for the ‘turn around’ dots – about 4-5, depending on the size of your space.
  • A clean floor you can put tape on – tiles, wood, cement all work well.
  • a bag or other container (a small bucket works well) for PacMan to collect his/her dots with

OPTIONAL EXTRAS to LEVEL UP

  • UV blacklight to make it all glow in the dark – we recommend the package Simply Sparkles hires out, which has two good par can flood lights and one bar light. This way you can have the light coming from different angles in the room and it makes everything really pop.
  • larger dots (paper ones or jam jar lids) with printed out pictures of cherries and other bonus points items from the PacMan game. Very big dots (paper plates work well) for PacMan to be able to chase the ghosts back.
  • Score board: For older kids and adults, you can up the challenge and keep a score of how many of the dots and the bonus items each PacMan gets on their turn, and keep score on a chalk board. This works best if there aren’t so many players that it will take ALL day to each have a turn, but you could do it on a team basis. Really don’t do this with children under 10 as they truly have enough fun just playing it and randomly collecting the dots, and they tend to be unhappy with competitions at parties and start arguing.

Making the PacMan characters

If look at the first photo on this blog, you’ll get an idea of what you’re after. Use your plate to make a circle in the yellow card for PacMan, cut it out, then measure out a cake slice piece to cut out for the mouth. There are loads of free PacMan colouring in pages on the net you can use as a template if you aren’t keen on drawing your own. Try this French blog for making PacMan and ghost cushions – she has a really great template for both. Stick a small black dot on for the eye and you have PacMan’s dear familiar face.

Use the same plate to draw the top half of a circle for the top of the ghosts, then use a ruler to draw side lines, and make a wavy line at the bottom (You could free-hand. I happened to have a wavy line stencil ruler, but you could make a quick template from card to keep it uniform and neat – use your sherry or highball glass rim to mark the curves of your wavy line). The ghost eyes are a different size and type from Pacman’s. Use your highball/ sherry glass to measure the white circles, then cut them out, and check the position before sticking them on. Cut the black pupils (or draw them on with a black marker or use black stickers). Try varying their direction so they look expressive and interesting like the ones in the photo.

Once you have two ghosts in each colour, and two PacMan characters, you need to put them back to back and punch holes on the sides, nearish to the top. You then thread string/ wool through the holes, to make a little harness to hold the faces on the chest and back of each player. You can adjust the length by trying it out on your child/ person of a suitable size who will be playing, then tie and cut off loose ends. You can get the idea here – the arrow shows you where the string holes are, as the glow light makes it a bit hard to see:

where to place the strings on your ghost/pacman

TIP: if you plan to play this on more than one occasion or with lots of kids and you want it to really last, you can laminate each piece and use a hold punch and metal hole-liners if you have the tool to put them in with. The plain card with holes last very well for one party’s set of games, but help/ remind children to put them on and take them off gently as they won’t survive overly rough treatment.

How to set up a human PacMan game floor layout

If you are more comfortable with knowing exactly how this will turn out, then you can measure your floor, get some pictures of a PacMan game screen off the internet, and plan the whole thing with exact measurements, factoring in the width of your masking tape. If this makes you happy and you have a lot of time, have fun! If you are shorter on patience and time, like me, read on…

What I did: Got a pic of a PacMan game on my laptop to refer to. Started in the middle of the room with the rectangle big enough for one person to stand and turn in, with an opening big enough for two feet right next to each other, plus a bit extra. I then taped out pathways fairy intuitively in concentric rectangles around the original one, occasionally referring to my laptop screen for inspiration to keep things varied – a couple of awkward twists and turns and dead ends add to the fun.

It is super important for game play that there is not an easy, direct path straight from the middle rectangle to the outside opening. Hopefully referring to your chosen image of a typical PacMan screen will help you see this.

You can see the result in the picture above. Notice the ordinary-coloured masking tape is glowing a nice purple under the black light UV.

To finish off, enclose the whole lot in a big rectangle with an opening that connects to one of the paths. The best part is, apart from wasting a bit of tape, if something goes wrong with your design, it’s easy enough to pull up the tape and reapply it or else start that bit over – just keep stepping back to look at the big picture and checking your paceman screen/ image for reference.

You can do this the day before your party – if your tape works, it can stay down for a day or even two. Just remember to use masking tape and not duct tape and your floor should be fine. If you’re not sure with your specific type of flooring, please check in a hidden spot.

TIP: for teenagers or adults, check the pathways are wide enough for bigger sized feet to move through, though making fairly tight turns is part of the fun!

Getting ready to play human PacMan!

Once you’ve done your pathway, and you’re close to the start time, place your dots (bottle tops or whatever you are using) around your maze. It’s great if you can put them fairly evenly spaced around the whole thing, as it looks like the real game and makes it challenging, but for younger kids, or if you are just short of dots, you can spread them out a bit more.

Decide ahead of time how teams will work, especially if you have lots of kids or a tricky number. You can adapt. Best case scenario, we found, was 3 ghosts to one PacMan, but you could mess about with the ratio depending on your space and the age of the players, etc.

  1. Give each ghost their ghost ‘harness’ to put on, so they have one ghost picture on their chest/tummy and one on their back. Do the same for the first PacMan.
  2. Give PacMan the container or bag which he or she is going to put their dots in.
  3. Get your sound or sound-effects person ready to go.
  4. Switch on your UV blacklights.
  5. Close your curtains and switch off extra lights.
  6. Explain the rules to your players and demonstrate the walking technique.

How to move in a game of human, life- sized PacMan

You can’t walk in a normal way like the kid in the front of this game (see picture below). An important rule is that you have to keep your knees together at all times and shuffle, one foot in front of the other, as if your legs started at your knees. This slows everyone down a bit, keeping up the challenge level, and makes you move a bit like you are in a pixelated old school arcade game. It also makes it more silly and fun.

From a safety perspective, you also don’t want people attempting to run in a small space with lots of tight turns.

Alternatives are tying older people’s knees together (not recommended for kids – they just need lots of reminding when things heat up). Use duct tape or soft, wide ribbon or scarves that won’t cut. Tie gently, not too tight. If your floor is not too hard and people are wearing long trousers, they can crawl, but then you need a bigger maze and lots of room for wider paths. You can get some people to hop with both feet, or make ghosts hop with one foot and PacMan with two. The hopping and shuffling and crawling have to happen without shooting the dots everywhere – though some of this is inevitable – a demonstration can be helpful.

How to play a game of human, life-size PacMan

  1. PacMan stands outside the maze, next to the opening, holding his/her bag or container.
  2. The ghosts are placed in the middle rectangle, all together in a row.
  3. Press play or start making slow beep-bop PacMan noises while everyone starts to move. PacMan has to pick up as many of the dots as he/she can while avoiding capture by the ghosts.
  4. The ghosts can move in a random way, as in the game, or try to head straight for PacMan to catch him. It helps to explain to the players that all the ghosts going after PacMan at once isn’t the most fun strategy as they all just end up in a row. Spreading out makes it more fun AND narrows down PacMan’s options for escape.
  5. If PacMan reaches one of the BIG/ WHITE dots (e.g. paper plates)Call out ‘GHOST HUNT!” and the chase reverses (use a different soundtrack here – faster bee-bops or a wazoo or something) and PacMan has a chance to capture the ghosts. This tends to be really fun and chaotic as the ghosts are suddenly the ones being hunted and have to hobble for their lives! The person doing the sound effects can use their judgement as to how long to let this go on before the tide turns against PacMan again, though the older the teens/adults, the more important it is for this to be on a proper timer of some kind for fairness. The little kids are usually so into it they don’t notice the time exactly and the adult running the game can tweak it a bit to keep things happy and running well.
  6. PacMan can not pick up any dots while chasing the ghosts.
  7. Captured ghosts have to return to their home base rectangle in the middle and wait to start over.
  8. As soon as time is up, call out ‘PACMAN HUNT!’ and go back to your original, slower beep-bop soundtrack. PacMan can return to picking up dots and bonus points. The ghosts return to chasing PacMan.
  9. If PacMan gets captured by a ghost, he or she loses a life and the game resets, with the ghosts returning to the middle while PacMan returns to the outer opening of the maze. 3 lives works well.
  10. At the end of PacMan’s third life, if you are keeping score, you count the number of tokens he/she has managed to collect and write it down next to that player or team’s name. Then while everyone is changing places, selecting a new PacMan and ghosts to have a go, replace all the tokens quickly. Players can help to make this quick. It’s not as painful as it sounds, as very few players pick up most of the dots because they are also trying to escape the ghosts. With very young kids, having something to do in between rounds, like a quick snack or drinks break, can buy you time.
  11. SCORING: If you are keeping score, and not just playing for fun with little kids, then you have to count the number of dots collected by PacMan at the end of his/her 3 lives, and keep track of the number of ghosts captured in their turn. Suggested simple scoring: 1 point: common colour dots, 2 points for bonus colour dots (e.g. cherries in the original game) and 5 points for ghosts. Write scores on a piece of paper or score board. Simply Sparkles have a great chalk board and chalk markers you can use (bonus that chalk markers glow under UV too!)

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to look at our other posts on glow in the dark parties and lawn games:

Glow in the dark party ideas

Grown up glow party ideas

How to play Kubb or viking chess

Grown up glow party ideas

Glow on, you know you’ve seen enough kids’ and teen’s glow in the dark parties to know you’re desperate to have a grown up version! Whether you’re old enough to be nostalgic for the neon UV parties of the 1980s or 1990s disco, with the strobe and the crazy socks, or you’re up for something more nuanced and sophisticated, glow parties are now all glown up.

great themes and decorating ideas for an adult glow party

Let’s talk themes. Some adults like to dress up, others really hate it. There are a few neutral peeps. So if you go with a theme, make dressing up optional. Or… go ahead and nag everyone because seriously people, it is SO fun!

A theme can be a great way to tie in decor, invites and other items to get everyone a little excited that this party is a bit more than the usual small talk, drinks and chip ‘n’ dip. Cool themes for a grown up glow party are only limited to your imagination, but here are a couple of fabulous ones that Simply Sparkles party hire have helped style or have hired lights out for over the years:

  • Avatar: just watch the movie again and you’ll get why this is a fantastic glow party theme – go with stunning canopies of plants with giant flowers or paint a tree (all using glow paint or neon paint) and get a face paint artist in. Any tribal / boho / festival kind of party decor and outfits also work really well because… glow body paint is awesome! (more on that later on).
  • Naughty Nautical/ Under the sea: you can make this really sophisticated for a glamorous pool party or dance theme. Think mostly blue, violet and white colour schemes, though you can add tropical colours too, of course, make giant jelly fish out of paper lanterns and fabric, make bubbles out of white lanterns and balloons with glow sticks in them, and float glowing balloons in your pool, if you have one. The white and blue of sailor outfits works brilliantly too. If you can hire a wave light in blue or white to add to the sea atmosphere, so much the better (hey there! Simply Sparkles can help with that!)
  • Murder mystery/ Escape room/ Scavenger hunt role play: One of the coolest things you can do is have invisible clues/ writing/ symbols that only show up with a UV spectrum light.
  • 80s or 90s disco: Man you can ham this up and get funky like a cold Medina. So many dodgy fashion choices to make, so little big hair… In the 80s, Neon was just everywhere, even in the day time. Fingerless gloves, braces (for trousers), bowties, ties, hair scrunchies, socks…. Make a glowing punch bowl with tonic water in the mix (tonic water glows because of the quinine) get hula hoops in neon colours and spray paint weird 80s graffiti on some newspaper for the walls. Spotify and iTunes will do the work for you and offer you playlists and suggestions for days if you’re getting so old you can’t remember how to Walk like an Egyptian with the Bangles, do the Final Countdown with Europe, or the Locomotion with Kylie. If you’re too young to even know what the hell all that meant, then just get a whole playlist downloaded and if you’re VERY brave try YouTube videos of those guys to learn the weirdest dance moves of all time. Just wow.

Whatever theme you choose, remember you may need other lighting besides the black light uv for a great party – dance parties will need some dance lights, lasers and smoke to add the best vibe for certain parties or amp up the colour options a little. Some disco lights come with colour patterns that throw in a bit of extra UV as they move to the beat. If your theme is sea or water related then you can hire a wave-light to give a magical water-world effect, adding to your glow party atmosphere.

If you’re on a budget or care about the environmental impact of disposable items used at parties, you don’t need to spend a fortune on neon supplies. Get creative with a cheap pack of neon paper and scratch around thrift stores for white or neon fabric you can cut up and tie around things. Weed whacker wire and white items as well as quite a few items around your house may also glow in the dark, so you just need to experiment a little. Best of all, hire some reusable party supplies with your UV lights – you get so much more out of your budget like this, and it all goes back into their shop afterwards – no storing or throwing away for you!

occasions that glow best with uv black light

Whether you’re thinking adult as in, 21st birthday, 30s night club/ trance vibe, or adult as in 50th birthday bash, Old School 80s high school relive-the-glory-days… it really can work for just about any occasion. Graduations, hen or stag parties – it’s all good to glow!

The great thing about neon glow parties is that the blacklight UV kind of guides your other decor supplies and outfit choices. Basic black, dark blue or white backgrounds work well with with items that will pop in the glow light. Keep it simple and sophisticated or madly fun – it’s up to your mood and style.

Pssst! if you love this whole neon lights look, you can also incorporate it into your home decor as in this great post.

glown up party games

Adults also love to play rather than just stand around and talk, or hover around the edge of the dance floor. ANY party or lawn game you have ever pinned on Pinterest can be adapted to glow in the dark parties with a pop of neon paint, some neon stickers, or a glow stick.

Some glow party game ideas to try:

  • glow beer pong (just adapt with black light/ neon supplies like neon cups, ping pong balls and glowing tape and stickers to mark the table.
  • glow ring toss or bowling: put glow sticks in glass bottles (for ring toss) or plastic bottles with water in (for bowling), or else paint with neon paint/ decorate with glow stickers and tape. Spray paint an inexpensive soccer ball with neon paint for bowling (f you can’t find a neon one in the shops), or use neon plastic or painted wood for ring toss. VoilĂ !
  • glow sport, go! Volleyball, soccer, pingpong, swing ball – any summer beach or yard party game can be made to work with black light UV lighting – just get the UV flood lights (as opposed to bar lights) and make sure it will be dark enough at party time (not too much street or other ambient lighting to get in the way). Put glow tape around your nets/ goal posts etc. (or spray paint them neon) and buy or paint a neon sports ball and away you go!
  • glow twister: repaint or DIY your own glow in the dark twister game and spinner. SO much fun. We’ve just adapted an old one using simple neon highlighter markers drawn over the dots. Test colours to make sure they contrast enough with each other- so the green must not be too close to yellow when it glows in the dark, or you will have to use patterns or symbols to make the game work (instead of circles, some could have a triangle inside the circle outline, for instance).
  • Glow 3 legged races – people race in twos and you tie their middle legs together at the ankles with neon ribbon. Mark the finish line with neon fabric or paper flags on string and make sure there are no obstacles for anyone to trip over in the dark (best played on a beach or nice lawn).

Top tip: If you’ve hired lawn game equipment like our giant jenga (toppling tower) set and can’t paint it, you can try using glow stickers or placing the game on a glowing paper backdrop, or even putting scores on a glowing board. Cool fact: white chalk glows on a black chalkboard sign in the dark – true story. You can also buy awesome neon liquid chalk markers which wipe off with a damp cloth when you are done, like these ones.

Photo booths for glowing memories

Having a Photo Booth and some props is super awesome. Party peeps often put trouble into their glow outfits, and perhaps you’ve got some body and face paint magic going on, so capture those memories! While they’re having fun, why not throw in some silly props to really get them playing the model? The memories of your party will live on in the legends of social media.

backdrops that work: A black or white, simple background works best because anything too busy and it all gets to be a blur in the photos. You can do some pretty cool backdrops with dots, stars, streamers etc. but consider how a busier backdrop might be better for your drinks and eats tables or as a dance floor backdrop or room divider. Something simple for your guests to shine in front of is better for your photo booth. You can hire a Photo Booth stand and matt black backdrop cloth from Simply Sparkles when you hire your black lighting UV lights. Simply Sparkles also has a range of custom reusable wooden photo booth props specially painted in neon paint for hire.

Frames: You can use a fun frame – neon paper or card stock and foam board glow fantastically, as do cheap office supply stickers. Make a frame from stiff card stock and decorate it to suit your theme. People can either hold this up themselves for the photos or you can hang it from a ceiling beam or tree branch – check the height will work for various heights of guests, or hang more than one frame if they are smaller.

You can make fantastic optical illusions really easily and inexpensively with frames and neon/ glow tape or stickers – squares within squares works really well.

Important props tip: ordinary photo booth props on the market generally don’t glow under UV light. They can’t just be bright colours, they must be neon or fluorescent. So… if you are using real dress up items, like flower crowns, hats, gloves etc. make sure they are a good neon colour. Lots of dollar stores (Crazy Stores in South Africa) sell these items. If they are photo props on sticks, consider hiring or buying wood or cardboard that is painted with proper neon paint (also called fluo or fluorescent colours), which is available at most arts and craft shops and online stationary retailers.

As a last resort, buy a tasteful black and white set of props, and stick neon office supply dot stickers all over them. Those office supplies sure do glow like crazy under UV light! You can also use those glow in the dark stars and other kids’ bedroom decor – they look amazing. Any of those glow stick glasses, headbands, bracelets, etc. also look doubly fantastic in neon black light party outfits and photo booths.

A word on photo lighting: If you want to see everyone clearly, but still see the popping black light neon UV glow accessories etc. you need a balance of a little bit of ambient light, or early evening light, with a strong UV flood light that gives good coverage.

If you want the super dramatic black light UV effect for spooky Halloween photos or all-over outfits and body art (for that cool, floating in the dark look), you need a very dark environment (as little ambient light as possible) and the strong UV blacklight floodlight.

You also need a phone or camera that can handle strong light-dark contrast, with the flash turned off. Quite a few phone cameras do a fantastic job of black light photography, others don’t. If your photos are important to you, hire or purchase your light ahead of time and do some experimenting, or ask your friends.

glow/ neon party outfits

You can go so crazy with blacklight UV party outfits it’s difficult to know where to start. White and dark black or navy can make a good base, but you can also go with rainbow florescent tulle or gauze skirts, cool dollar-store neon jewellery (or make your own by painting some cheap vintage finds to keep your party outfits eco-friendly).

You can buy tons of 80s classics in neon, like fishnet fingerless gloves (hello Madonna), socks, scrunchies, fedoras, braces, neck ties, bowties, etc. There are lots of glow stick jewellery and headband options out there, and you can buy battery operated neon rope lights in all kinds of colours (my favourite is the light blue in our photo below) to wrap around a black outfit for a super-cool futuristic look. You can also wear a sexy barely-there outfit in black or white and just go for an amazing big glow temporary tattoo or body art, like the models in the photos in this blog did.

Don’t forget to raid the kids’ section of any clothing or thrift store – I’ve seen some big badass guys rocking neon rainbow tutus at glow parties. Who says unicorns don’t exist?

Don’t forget hair… if you wear it long you can braid in neon wire, painted (or just white) feathers and beads for an amazing tribal boho vibe. You can also get neon hairspray temporary colours and neon wigs.

Glow in the dark blacklight body and face paint

The photographs for this blog post were of local models painted by a professional mehndi henna artist in Cape Town, Zubaidah Amod. If you live in the Cape and you love temporary body art, give her a call to book her for a party. She does beautiful henna art for brides and for Eid as well and can paint up an amazing number of people in incredible detail at great speed. You can find her on Instagram @zubaidah.amod. If you aren’t lucky enough to live here, you can have a go yourself and get great effects, but a professional face painter will make everyone look awesome very quickly, so it’s a great touch for a fabulous party.

You can also buy glow in the dark temporary tattoos quite cheaply online – try Etsy or Amazon or you might find some at a dollar store/ crazy store.

There is awesome clear paint that is invisible in the day but surprises everyone by appearing like magic once it gets dark and the glow party fun begins. You need to apply it under UV though or it’s just really hard to see what you’re drawing!

Pro tip on buying neon glow body paint: neon body paint needs to be decent quality and applied quite thickly. You can then paint nicely with it and even blend the edges between colours for super pretty effects. There are lots of very cheap neon body paints available at dollar stores but I don’t recommend them unless you know someone who swears by the particular brand. They are often watery or very waxy and don’t give a decent pop of colour – you want oooh! not meh!

It’s best to get a better quality pot or two from a craft supplies shop (like PNA in South Africa). A little goes a long way, and if you’re going with friends to a party you can each chip in for a colour to get more variety. Nice brushes also help, though you can go a long way with finger painting if its for larger areas and a looser tribal vibe.

glow/ neon party food and drinks

Glow food and drink can be made in a few ways. Mainly, you have:

Food colouring: a bit like with decor, you need colourings specifically marked ‘fluorescent’ or ‘neon’ or ‘glow-in-the-dark’ for them to really work. You need quite a bit of colouring in your buttercream or fondant icing to get a nice intense glow. It doesn’t taste fantastic if you use a lot of colouring, so consider just doing a few show-stopper items and opting instead for:

Decor and accessories to serve food with/on and to decorate your bar area with: Consider neon plates, glasses and cups, little flags on sticks used to make little skewers for cocktail snacks, drink garnishes and wooden laser cut words and pics on sticks (e.g. cake toppers) which you paint with neon paint (make sure it is food safe if painted areas will actually go into the food). You can put glow stickers on cocktail glasses and there are lots of neon tot glasses out there for shooters, as well as neon cocktail mixer sticks. Paint fake flowers (or real ones) with touches of neon glow paint and tie them to wine glass stems, drink bottles or scatter around tables.

Edible garnishes which happen to glow under black light: Some edible flowers like hibiscus glow in the dark under black light! So will any bright white edible flowers like white rose petals, white alyssum, white basil flowers, etc. Experiment with what you have – black light UV spectrum does some pretty cool things with all kinds of natural pigments.

Tonic water cocktails: you can play a lot with glow drinks using tonic water as a mixer. Tonic water that contains quinine happens to glow under UV light. You can make ice cubes and cool stuff like vodka jello with it too. Only mix with clear alcohols, fruit juices and other mixers – if you cloud it up it will glow less. For instance, we found milk or lychee jello (jelly in South Africa) worked really well because they are white / clear. You need a good strong UV light for this to show up, so don’t place your pretty drinks miles from your dance floor lighting and expect them to pop – you have to light the bar area too.

Glow sticks can be put under the ice cubes in your champagne cooler or big ice bucket for storing your drinks. For a super cool effect, you can make giant ice cubes with water balloons and put the glow sticks under these – magic! You don’t need UV light for this bit – the glow effect just comes from the glow sticks.

We hope you have a great time getting your glow on and have a party that simply sparkles with neon fun! Let us know any tups you have in the comments or feel free to ask a question.

PHOTO CREDITS: Most of the photos in this blog post were shared with me, and are used with the permission of, various clients of Simply Sparkles party hire over the years. The photos of models with body paint were from a photoshoot by Steyn Marais Photography (follow @steynmaraisphotography on Instagram) with body paint by mendhi artist Zubaidah Amod (follow @zubaidah.amod on Instagram). The models are Morenike (@mo-aint_yours) and Tanya (her account on Instagram is private).

Read more on this topic:

Glow in the dark party ideas

How to DIY and play real-life, human PacMan (with blacklight UV neon for that arcade game look!)

Brilliant ideas for incorporating neon into your home decor. (Simply Sparkles got a guest feature on this great blog at Redfin. Spot us talking texture and neon/ UV fabric at no. 14!)

Dance party game ideas for any theme for adults or kids

Party games can provide loads of fun to break the ice and get a dance party moving. These ideas contain some classics adapted to dance parties, and ideas on how you can adapt them to various popular party themes pretty easily by tweaking names, decorations, props or prizes.

Games don’t have to be just for kids – they can really liven up a bachelor/ bacelorettes, a baby shower, 30th or a 60th 60s disco! Just crank up the humour a level to suit your guests, and make the prizes appropriate to the group – adults enjoy cheeky forfeits or having to drink something interesting, teens enjoy silly dares, and almost anyone likes a small chocolate….

Musical Islands

This is a bit like musical chairs, but with some kind of ‘island’ instead of the furniture.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • sound system – preferably with a remote or cellphone soundtrack plus blutooth
  • dance lights
  • islands made of paper (one fewer than the number of players and just big enough for one person’s feet. e.g. A4 sheet of paper). This is where you can tweak for your theme, e.g. neon paper for a glow in the dark party, or pictures of plants for a Plants vs Zombies party, sparkly mats for sophisticated bridal shower party fun, etc.
  1. Place the ‘islands’ on the floor – one fewer piece than the number of players. Everyone is instructed to stand OFF the ‘islands’.
  2. When the music starts, everyone has to dance – nice and actively, no bouncing bums on the spot!
  3. When the music stops, everyone has to rush to get onto an island. Whoever is caught without an island is out, and one more island is removed.
  4. This continues until you have a winner! I’ve found this works best if you have small prizes like a mini chocolates (or something theme-related) and you play the game a couple of times – it doesn’t take long, and its more fun to have a few gos than just one person winning a bigger prize.

Costume Catwalk

If you are having a themed party for any age, you can have a best outfit catwalk show on your dancefloor. I’d recommend doing this simply for fun at a younger children’s party, and only having a best costume and best catwalk act winner from tweens up, as the little ones get hurt feelings, while older kids and adults enjoy vying for the top spot.

Everyone has to dances in a circle and you have a judge or panel of judges to vote on the best outfit. Each contestant has to exaggeratedly model their outfit accross the centre of the circle and spin it out a bit, so it’s not just a passive thing.

Fun songs for older adults are ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’ (there’s an updated ‘Im not a Barbie Girl’ too!) or ‘I’m too sexy for my shirt’, or ask people to whisper to the DJ what they want their entrance song to be. Mine would definitely be ‘All about that base’ by Meghan Trainor!

Knights, knaves and horses

This is an old medieval theme game which you can adapt to other themes, using your imagination, e.g. ‘moms, dads and babies’ for a baby shower, or ‘Elsa, Anna and Sven’ (with appropriate actions) for a Frozen party theme.

This was a popular dancing game with older teens when I was one, and we were divided into boy and girl pairs, where the boys had to do the ‘heavy lifting’ and be the knights, knaves or horses. We’ve played a version very successfully with tweens at a birthday party too, and didn’t make it a gender thing for our kids – I think it was actually more fun, as each pair also had to figure out who was going to do what, with much resulting hilarity.

instructions

  1. Basically, there is a ‘caller’ in control of the music, a bit like for musical chairs, and you need an odd number of players, e.g. – 7/ 9/ 11….
  2. Everyone has to dance until the music is suddenly stopped – and then the caller says either ‘Knights!’ ”Knaves!’ or ‘Horses!’
  3. Everyone has to quickly find a partner and perform the appropriate action.
  4. For ‘knights’: one partner must kneel with one knee up, so the other person can sit on their knee.
  5. For ‘Knaves’: the one person must piggy back on the other.
  6. For ‘Horses’, one person gets down on all fours, and hte other one stands over their back.
  7. Anyone caught without a partner, or doing the wrong action, or the last pair to hook up, is out, and you start up the music and continue until you have a winning pair.
  8. If you have an even number of players, you just have to speed it up and pick on whoever gets it wrong or is too slow- a bit more like musical statues.

Pass the Ball

For this you need a smallish ball, orange or balloon (or try something to do with your theme, but preferably something round and smooth and not too hard or too small). A neon balloon or tennis ball is ideal for a glow in the dark party.

You also need great music and dance lights, and someone who is the referee.

instructions

  1. Everyone has to dance in a circle and keep moving!
  2. One person is given the ball.
  3. Everyone has to keep passing the ball around the circle, but without using hands or feet and without dropping it, or you have to start all over again.
  4. Its most fun if everyone tries to carry on dancing as it goes, but the embarrassing positions people get themselves into tend to leave everyone a bit helpless with laughter…
  5. Kids can be offered a treat each as a reward for completing the task, and adults can be offered a drink. They may need one!

Simon Says (and variations)

For a straight dance party, get your lights and music going, use a mic, and call out some disco moves to test everyone in a game of DJ Says: e.g. “DJ says, ‘Do the twist!'” or “DJ says, ‘Do the floss!'”

If you’re doing a 60th or 70th dancing – through- the decades party, you can look up major dance moves from each decade. Just be prepared to do a demonstration before the game starts, just in case memories need jogging!

Just remember the basic rules – you call out ‘Simon says’, and they must DO the action, but if you don’t say ‘Simon says’ and just call out the action, and someone does it, then they are out. Picking up the speed and switching back and forth between ones you’ve already done tends to get everyone confused in the end!

Have a few particularly tricky ones for those last older kids or adults in the game, to get them a little flustered and get to a winner.

With younger kids, play it really straight and be prepared for more than one round, to give a small prize to more than one kid (consider using the winner of each round as the caller for the next one).

Last person standing is, of course, the winner here!

Dance Charades

Basically play like normal charades, and choose words, film or song titles, character to match your party theme.

Make a set of charades cards and print them out. You want to get people dancing, so you can have dance moves for a particular decade, dancing to mimic a particular pop star (or another character suited to your theme, eg dance like Easter bunny vs Easter chicken or do an egg roll dance, a superhero (Spiderman, Batman, Black Panther) or Disney princess (Meredtith from Brave, the Little Mermaid, Mulan, Elsa…) , and everyone has to guess who you are or the name of the dance move.

Adults and kids might enjoy dancing like a particular animal and everyone has to guess what animal. Ideas: camel, alpaca, sloth, elephant, tiger, kangaroo, duck, wolf…. (depending on the age of kids, you can get more or less exotic mixes of animals – for younger kids, it might be best to stick to common local or zoo animals. For older kids or adults, you might try some weirder challenges like the sloth or a reindeer).

You can either get the whole group guessing and each person takes a turn (recommended for younger kids, to take the competition stress away), OR, for older kids and adults who enjoy the competition, set it up like a proper charades game. Write your characters or animal names on small cards and divide your guests into two teams. You give the first volunteers from each team a card and they have to get their team to guess. Whoever guesses gets the next card… and so on until you have the first team to finish.

Ministery of Silly Dances

This would work well along with other ideas for people over 40, who will know all about the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks skit. If you like the idea and want to try it for kids, I’d either suggest watching the skit with them first, or if they are doing a ‘Mr Men and Little Miss’ book theme party, you could play with doing silly dances for Mr Silly at the Nonsense Land Disco (Which I just made up, but it ties in nicely with the Nonsese Land’s trophy for the silliest idea in the story).

The game is simple. Someone is the representative of the government Ministry of Silly Dances, and everyone has to have a turn to apply for a government grant to develop their silly dance. The silliest dance wins the grant, which is the game prize.

It helps enormously if the government representative is able to set the tone the way John Cleese does in the skit and make suggestions to improve the silly walks presented, which the ‘grant seeker’ then has to try to copy as well. Bonus points for coming up with dreadful academic names for individual moves.

I’d suggest offering a particularly juicy prize to the adults, like a bottle of wine, and giving everyone a few minutes to come up with their individual walks before the public attempt. For the Mr Men and Little Miss party, you could get creative with a trophy or offere a conventional party game prize.

For an end of year office party involving anyone in a university or other company that has to frequently deal with government grant applications, this is deeply therapeutic and gasp-for-breath fun!

Music with silly lyrics can make this even more fun. This is very easy to organise if you have a smart phone and speakers with bluetooth capability. Chat to us at Simply Sparkles if you’d like to use our equipment, and we can show you how easy breezy this is!

Interpretive Dance Pictionary

A bit like with charades and Ministry of Silly Dances, this involves lots of silly fun for adults and teenagers, where you give people standard Pictionary game cards, and ask them, instead of drawing, to try to explain the word or phrase with interpretive dance. This works well if you or a friend are prepared to demonstrate, and you have a fun group of friends who don’t mind being very strange for a laugh!

You can make this game even better if you have someone operating disco lights and party sound using bluetooth and a cellphone with Spotify or iTunes, so contestants can quickly hunt for a good backing song for their dance and use smoke machines, lasers or strobes to add to their dance’s atmosphere!

Keep in Touch!

Please let us know how your dance games went, and any variations or new ideas! We’re always looking for ways to help our party lights and sound hire clients have more fun, and share these ideas with them as part of our service.

Contact us if you would like advice for your party set up or if you’d like to hire lights, sound and other party accessories. Delivery is free in Somerset West and Strand! We’re here to help make your party Simply Sparkle!

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Bubbles!

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.