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Question: Rave-Themed Party Tips?

11 March 2010 14,434 views 35 Comments

by heather


Photo by Alexa Westerfield, Swell Designer

Dollar store crafters and party gurus, reader Alexia needs some help!

Heather,

I follow your blog and love so many of your ideas.  I was wondering if I could ask you for your help.  My daughter will be 16 soon and wants to have a "rave" themed sweet 16 party.  I'm looking for some ways to decorate that will fit her theme and not break the bank.
My daughter has suggested  covering the walls with black paper and then handing out neon chalk so the kids can write on it.  Beyond that everything is up in the air.  Table coverings, table decorations, menu, etc.

Thanks!

When I think of raves, I think of loud techno music, dark rooms with colorful lights and splashes of paint under black lights.

My tips for must-have rave items from the dollar store:

  • Glow sticks
  • Bubbles (maybe the little ones from the wedding section?)
  • Novelty candy like ring pops and baby bottle pops

Now it's your turn, readers! Help Alexia plan the perfect rave theme party on a budget!

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35 Comments »

  • Colette said:

    I haven’t been to a rave in about 5 years, but it could be fun to make necklaces and bracelets out of neon pony beads. Or buy a ton of mardi gras necklaces.

  • Melissa said:

    Plastic pony beads for making ‘candy’ bracelets.

    Anything rainbow.

    A black light and black light reflective items, heck white sheets work if your light is big enough.

    Hope those help.

  • Theo said:

    With the idea of having the kids write on the black walls with chalk, why not have a place where the notes and art can be saved for the birthday girl? Perhaps have part of the wall be like a guest book, then those pages can be put in a scrapbook.

    glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets can be found pretty cheaply. You can also make designs out of poster board, paint them with neon colors, then hang them from the ceiling or put them on the walls or as table decorations.

  • dot said:

    Glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets and of course music.
    I can think of some totally inappropriate things too (but since this is a childs party i won’t go there!)

    For a halloween party one year, we covered the walls of our basement in black paper, and did glow in the dark paint graffiti on them ahead of time. then used a big florescent black light (the little ones you get at the party store are useless, but if you find the big long wands that fit in those florescent fixtures, they are awesome.)

    here’s another cool glow in the dark idea: http://www.filthwizardry.com/2010/01/glow-in-dark-walls-lightsabre-update.html

    Honestly, at the age where they want a rave party, they don’t need a lot of cutesy stuff, just (mostly) absent parents and a cool dance club atmosphere.
    I would take inspiration from hip dance clubs :)

    dot

  • TwoDogBride said:

    I would recommend making beaded bracelets with plastic beads. Or having a bracelet station. We wore them a lot in high school. Like 5+ a wrist!

    Like this: http://slog.thestranger.com/files/2007/06/kandi_kid.jpg

    And pacifiers are cute, but I don’t know if you’d want to use them because of the drug connotations.

  • Heather H said:

    Def. Glow in the dark items. Line lamps with glow necklaces, pipe them around the cake (alone with white frosting to glow under black lights!).

  • Alexa said:

    My suggestion is make it all black light…then have everyone come dressed in white (like clothes from goodwill or inexpensive t-shirts) and then everyone paints each other with glow in the dark paint. You may have to put up protective cloths for this or ask everyone to bring a set of additional clothes, but they will have a blast…look up Katie Perry’s paint b-day party on google. You will see what I mean.

  • MissCraftyFingers said:

    glow sticks, glow rings, pacifier candies, beaded necklaces and bracelets! neon coloured feather boas and furry leg warmers for kandi kids! :D

  • MissCraftyFingers said:

    well also, if you can rent some laser lights and disco ball, that’d be awesome :)

  • Casey said:

    i have seen small bubble machines for 6 dollars at wal-mart in the party section. that would be cool with a strobe light, which you could borrow. i really don’t know how much a strobe light costs.
    like everyone else has said, glow bracelets (dollar tree has a bunch) and candy necklaces, or those ring pops that can be hung on a necklace. possibly also some of those little light up wands that have flashing lights in them.

  • drvnm said:

    I thinks its cool you want to do something unique for your daughter’s 16th B-day and forgive me for being an old fashion prude but weren’t ‘Rave’ parties once a place for illegal drug use for young people? And I’m sorry but the photo of the young woman’s head lying on some sort of light prisim looks like she’s drugged.

  • Cheryl said:

    maybe a smoke machine?
    I’ve also heard that “painting” with laundry detergent glows in black light.
    You can also check out “light painting” which isn’t really rave themed, but still very cool if you’re going to have a dark room with a lot of light up toys and jewelry, and leave your daughter with cool pictures to remember her birthday party. Friends can write messages for the camera with light up toys. Look up light painting on google.

  • Ruth Ann said:

    Constructing something like this would be cool:http://lifehacker.com/5458993/paint-your-own-glow+in+the+dark-sketch-wall
    Basically, painting a wall…or some posterboard tacked up on a wall, with glow in the dark paint and then providing little LED flashlights to “Draw” on the wall. Or some sort of flash (digital camera with a flash would work well) to create silhouettes.

  • JHill said:

    You don’t need fancy glow-in-the-dark paints, highlighters glow under blacklight. You can get a ton of them at the dollar store!

  • Kathryn said:

    As far as dollar store items other than some of the great ideas already mentioned above would be use swim noodles and some wire hangers to “make a dance cage”. Another would be buy lots of balloons and tape them all over and put some on the floor – even older kids still like popping balloons by stomping on them.

    Maybe for one of the thing to serve, depending on whether or not the kids like jello is a a Jello Mocktail (no alcohol) shooter
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Jello-Shot-Mocktail/ (basically just a jello jiggler minus the cute animal shapes you make to give to younger kids).

    I have not tried this, but Instructables also has a UV reactive recipe where you use quinine or tonic water and green jello but I would think you would have to add more sugar to it than what is listed to combat the taste of the quinine/tonic water.

    While dry ice is a cheap way to make fog and I used it all the time in productions in college. I would be a little reluctant to use around teens as it can cause burns and the area still needs to be well ventilated. Just some teen boys can resist getting into something that might be dangerous to show off to the girls – it depends on who is attending. (There is a DIY at Instructables to make one for cheap – http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Ultimate-budget-8.20-Fog-Chiller/ – if you wanted to go even cheaper you could use a disposable styrofoam cooler).

    Another idea would ask the kids to bring along an old white t-shirts (or maybe pick up some a your local thrift store) and have a “decorating station” (put down an old plastic tablecloth or shower curtain) with cheap glow in the dark acrylic paints and some styrofoam brushes and maybe some stencils from the dollar store that they would decorate and then wear.

    Here is an article that I found that might help.
    http://entertaining.suite101.com/article.cfm/rave_party_huge_dance_for_teens

    Good luck!

  • Kimberly said:

    another thing to check out would be the kids toys aisle cause they have all kinds of small light up toys, neon play jewelry, and even some glow in the dark stuff.

    another idea if you are going to have a cake, is to get the confetti cake mix, and put yellow and green (lime green) food coloring in the cake mix.

  • Clarissa said:

    I once went to a rave-themed Sweet Sixteen! They kept the party rooms very dark and passed out a ton of glow sticks. These are a MUST. I would also recommend buying some dark balloons and drawing things on them with a glow-in-the-dark marker. Simple, yet effective.

  • Dharmas Mommy said:

    Michaels and AC Moore usually have a tube with 10 or so glow bracelets for 1$ AND always have 40% off coupons online

  • Angelia said:

    Thank you guys! My next hurdle is finding a place to rent that will allow the loud music! I’m so excited!

  • Lauren said:

    Sometimes that sray-in and wash-out hair spray glows in the dark. Especially the lime green, bright orange, and hot pink. You have to really get the right stuff though so maybe buy a few cans and test them before hand to see how it looks. you can really have fun with the,. Also, strobe lights, black lights, and flasher lights would fit really well. Maybe even hire a cheap DJ from a high school! Have fun!

  • Ali G said:

    liquid laundry detergent glows under black light. im not sure if its a specific kind or just any liquid kind but i had a friend in high school that would finger paint on his wall and when he turned on the black light you could see all the fun painting but when it was off you couldn’t see anything. Let the kids paint on the walls/table/ paper/ whatever with it. It cleans itself up and doesn’t stain anything!

  • E.R. said:

    I’M WITH USER “drvnm” ALL THE WAY, SHE said:

    I thinks its cool you want to do something unique for your daughter’s 16th B-day and forgive me for being an old fashion prude but weren’t ‘Rave’ parties once a place for illegal drug use for young people? And I’m sorry but the photo of the young woman’s head lying on some sort of light prisim looks like she’s drugged.

    I’D LIKE TO ADD THAT KIDS/TEENS/TWEENS/ETC. ARE GROWING UP VERY FAST THESE DAYS WITH INCREASINGLY STRONG LUSTS OF THIS WORLD- IF NOT TAUGHT, TRAINED, AND DISCIPLINED OTHERWISE. DRUGS, LIKE RAVE DRUGS, ARE CHEAPER THAN EVER TODAY, TOO, MAKING IT EASIER FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO GET HIGH IN THE WORST WAY. I WOULD SIT DOWN WITH AND QUESTION A 16-YEAR-OLD THOROUGHLY IF HE OR SHE WANTED A PARTY TO BE RAVE-THEMED. YOU CAN LOVINGLY EXPRESS CONCERN. NO MATTER THEIR ACADEMIC GRADES (HONORS, ETC.) OR APPEARANCE TO HAVE IT “TOGETHER”, TEENAGERS TEND TO KEEP THINGS SECRET AND ESCAPE TO DANGEROUS REALITIES IF NOT TALKED TO ENOUGH BY THEIR PARENTS. GOD MADE YOU A PARENT FOR A GOOD REASON. A CLOSE FRIEND OF MINE FROM HIGH SCHOOL ALWAYS WANTED HER “FRIEND-LIKE” MOM TO BE A MOM, AND TO NOT ACT LIKE A PEER.

    MY SUGGESTION IS TO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO A RAVE-LIKE PARTY IN ANYWAY. PLEASE DON’T BE IGNORANT. EVEN IF A YOUNG PERSON IS SOBER NOW IN HIS OR HER LIFE, A RAVE PARTY HAS A DEFINITE DRUG RELATION. I WOULD TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE TYPE OF FRIENDS AND INVITEES OF THE PARTY.

    DON’T TAKE THE CHANCE THAT PEOPLE GET YOUR DAUGHTER HIGH IN YOUR HOUSE, AT THE PARTY YOU THREW FOR HER. DOING DRUGS IS WRONG.

    I’VE FOUND THIS:

    “What is a rave?

    A rave is an all night event, where people go to dance, socialise, get high and generally have fun in an uninhibited way with other likeminded people. Some say it’s about the creation of a community and re-connecting with something perceived as lost. Others just say it’s about necking loads of pills and getting wasted with your mates in a field.”

    MORE AT THE SITE BELOW. PLEASE GO TO THE SITE FOR A HISTORY BRIEFING. THIS IS SERIOUS.:

    http://www.thesite.org/drinkanddrugs/drugculture/drugstrade/thehistoryofrave

    THANK YOU AND GOD BE WITH ALL PEOPLE.

  • amy said:

    I honestly wouldn’t be super-concerned about the drug connotation…raves’ popularity peaked in the late 90’s. Nobody has them anymore (and thank goodness techno isn’t trendy anymore!)…I would imagine that the kids don’t really know what a true rave is or that people did wacky drugs at them. And nobody is going to think that a Sweet 16 party that a parent is throwing is going to be a substance-filled event!

    At it’s heart, a rave is a late-night dance party with loud techno, blacklights and glowsticks. Sounds like a fun Sweet 16!

  • Summer said:

    My dollar store has yarn from time to time, you could buy a bunch and let the girls make hair falls. (you can youtube for some pretty simple tutorials)

  • Diane said:

    maybe pick up candy necklaces and candy bracelets as party favors? $Tree usually has 10 packs.

    If you put lime sherbet in sprite it makes a pretty good punch, and it glows under black light.

    Sounds like your daughter is going to have an awesome party! If parents express concerns over the drug connotations, invite them to chaperone with you. The kids will roll their eyes, but everyone will have a good time. Try to have a parent’s area or specific table- most of them will chat, enjoy the party with other adults, and just check on the kids occasionally. My mom did this for my parties, and while it was kind of lame, it was never bothersome and it even came in handy when we had to send someone out for more supplies.

  • Alexa said:

    Yeah, I totally agree with Amy. When having a “rave” party becomes so mainstream that a parent wants to use it for a party theme, then I think the drug culture reference to a rave has lost its meaning.

    And though I’ve never attended a rave, I think part of it is the psychedelic/ being free aspect and that sounds like something fun and different for a party that a 16 year old would be able to let loose at and get to be themselves.

    Also, I took the pic used and honestly, I was laying on my bed with my eyes closed and using the glow sticks for light cause I thought it would be a cool pic. Actually, people would prob. laugh at people saying I looked high, cause that is so not my style.

  • E.R. said:

    All that considered, I hope it turns out well and wholesome.

  • amy said:

    You know what this is kindof akin to? I bet in the 80’s kids wants to have “hippie” parties and some parents said “oh but the flower child movement was all acid and pot”…now they have hippie halloween costumes at Walmart.

  • MissCraftyFingers said:

    after reading some of the comments, i just want to say that if you do not know anyone who goes to raves, some parts are pretty much exaggerated. True, raves are linked to drugs a lot and it was a huge problem in the late 80s and 90s. But there are a lot of people who go to raves just because of the love of electronic music and dance. I’m a fan of techno and hard techno music. My boyfriend is a techno DJ. We don’t do drugs. We don’t even drink alcohol. Being a rave-theme party which is chaperoned by parents, unless you’re inviting random strangers to the party, I do not see how the party will be affected by drugs. If kids want to try drugs, they will try other means to do so if not at a rave party. It is really who you choose to hang out with and the things you choose to do.

    oh yeah, check with your daughter what genre of edm she likes before hiring a dj. :D

  • karen k said:

    I’m not sure how involved she wants to get, or how much time she has, but maybe get postcard “flyers” for the event, maybe from VistaPrint or somewhere else cheap. Even if they ‘promote’ the sweet sixteen that everyone is already attending, you can keep them on the tables so guests can take them home as favors. Clubs and raves do that with leftover flyers that weren’t handed out before the party started.

    As someone said about pony beads, I would definitely make bracelets, maybe as party favors with their names or initials in letter beads.

    When I went to raves, I remember that it was important to have pants with streamers so when you danced, they’d move around, so maybe make ribbon streamers that party guest can hold as they dance if they don’t want to (or you run out of) glowsticks.

    Other than that, maybe decorate with hanging CDs, maybe like I did for a recent party: http://www.kormondy.com/2009/12/30/garland-from-used-cds/

    Hope this helps!

  • Lisa said:

    My husband and I ..both in our 30s are having a rave style party…..Did I use drugs in my hay day…yes….but the real question should be why you “the parent” lets them stay out so late.
    well they first would not be lying to you about where they were going and secondly you would know exactly if they were at said friends house because you have a relationship with their friends parents. Drugs have gotten worse in the scene but I dont sit back and use I am proactive and arm myself to be next to “our” kids….I rave now with a mission….With that said….OUr party is themed after Alice in Wonderland. I will be making duct tape mushrooms to place in our yard. Blacklights, glowsticks, candy (blow pops, ring pops, life savers), I am draping black table cloths with glow in the dark paint of trees, talking flowers, mushrooms, chesire cat, etc. We are also going to have a madhatter table (for people/kids to make paper bag hats), bounce house, various gaming consoles, one on a projector projecting against a cheap $20 roll down vinyl curtain to give the ambiance of different rooms., We will have various tables set up with the teaparty theme.. used cheap thrift store finds and painted with the glow in the dark paint to be part of the decor.

  • hunter hill said:

    I’m doing the same thing for my sweet 16 … I need ideas with how to splatter paint and if u use like that really long white papper and than spray paint it black than splatter paint it ….the sweet of it I’m wantn to have all kinds of candy what kind glows ??? Also I bought black lights ,strobe lights,lava lamps,lava projector lights,bubble machine … I’m handn out gift bags with glow sticks,glow rings,glow head bands, I got glow in the dark hair spray and glow paint that u spray on like banners.. Need more decortaing ideas, and creative stuff that I can make ?

  • Tricia said:

    I love the idea a previous poster had of getting black balloons and writing on them in black light markers! You could also get silver balloons at the Dollar Tree and they will help reflect all the crazy colors! What about using glow-in-the-dark spray paint on some Mardi Gras beads and other pieces of jewelry? You can get glow bracelets and necklaces really cheap through orientaltrading.com. Just type in “glow in the dark” and you can find everything from glow in the dark cups, tattoos, and blinking rings. These are pretty cool and rave-y http://www.orientaltrading.com/teeth-a2-25_3025-12-1.fltr?Ntt=glow+in+the+dark

    For food, you could have rainbow cupcakes, Skittles, and Jell-o shooters! Club soda, tonic water, and even Monster energy drinks glow under a black light, so these would be great in a punch!

  • Melissa Whedon said:

    @Hunter Hill, If you go to a place like Hobby Lobby or Michaels, they will have rolls of black colored paper so you will not have to paint it black before using glow in the dark paint.

  • Libby Jones said:

    When I was in high school I was obsessed with anything that would glow in blacklight. I was not of drugs I just like black lights. One cool thing I used to make was glow water. You just get an empty glass bottle fill it with water and drop any color highlighter ink catridge in it and the ink diffuses in the water and it glows bright in blacklight.