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Homemade Glow in the Dark Balloons

Updated on June 4, 2015

Balloons never lose appeal as a party decoration, no matter how young or young-at-heart the guests might be. Glowing balloons can add a creepy or fantastic vibe to an event and are a simple and cost-effective means of providing an extra dimension to festivities. There are several ways to make stunning glow-in-the-dark balloons, suitable for a children's party or a grown-up event.

Things You May Need

  • Balloons
  • Glow sticks
  • Glow-in-the-dark paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Balloon hand pump

The Glow Stick Method

The easiest method for making glow-in-the-dark balloons requires only two items: a balloon and a bendable glow stick. Simply snap the glow stick to activate its glow, following the recommendations on the box. Then, insert the glow stick into the balloon and inflate it.

The tricky part of this method is timing. Glow sticks will only stay bright for a few hours, so make sure you don't put them into the balloons too soon before the party starts. Light-colored balloons work best, but you might want to experiment with different glow stick and balloon color combinations.

The disadvantage of this method is that the balloon will not have a uniform glow, but will probably look obviously like a balloon with a glowing stick inside it.

Be Aware

The liquid inside glow sticks is relatively low in toxicity, but it may irritate skin and eyes and should not be ingested. Children should not be allowed to play with glow sticks without supervision.

How to Make Glow Sticks

The Painting Method

Blow up your balloons and tie them off. Using a soft paint brush, or spray paint, you can then paint them with non-toxic glow-in-the-dark paint. Apply the paint thinly, as thick coverage might contract as it dries and burst the balloon. Once the balloons are dry, expose them to bright light for half an hour before you need them. Afterward, the paint should glow for a few hours. Don't allow the balloons to get too close to a hot bulb, or they might burst.

The advantage of this method is that you can use any color balloon and you can paint different patterns or pictures on the balloons.

The disadvantage of this method is that it is time-consuming and can be messy, particularly if you want balloons with more uniform coverage.

The Squishing Method

This method also involves using glow-in-the-dark paint. You will need light-colored, or white or clear balloons, ideally. Take a balloon and hold open the neck with your fingers. Pour in about a 1/2 teaspoon of paint, then close the neck and grip it firmly. Use your fingers to squish the paint around inside the balloon to distribute it as evenly as possible.

Inflate the balloon immediately using a hand pump, then tie it off. Don't wait for the paint to dry, as it will make the balloon brittle and likely to burst when you inflate it.

These balloons will have relatively uniform glow-in-the-dark coverage, but the color might be slightly streaky.

Be Aware

Do not put a balloon to your lips or near your mouth or nose if it has paint on it. Wet or dry, paint and paint fumes can be dangerous and toxic. Use a hand pump to inflate the balloons instead.

Additional Ideas

  • Sealed balloons without exterior paint can be used as floating lanterns in water.
  • You can draw jack-o-lantern faces on glowing balloons with a black marker.
  • Painting balloons with non-toxic paint can be used as a party activity for children.
  • Small LED lights can be used inside balloons instead of glow sticks.
  • Glow sticks inside water balloons can make for a fun summer game.

Balloons as Glowing Water Lanterns



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    • indigomoth profile image

      indigomoth 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks! I think these would be great for camping. Especially for kids that like having a night light when they are sleeping in unfamiliar places.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      What a great line-up of ideas for making glow in the dark balloons! Summer fun stuff on the way! :) Linking to my hub on water balloon activities if you have no objection, and pinning. Love the thought of making these for camping out with kids.