Works For Me: Glow Sticks

My friend Nan has the most fun house of anyone I know.  I don’t know how she does it, but she is a perfect hostess to not only her adult guests, but the 12-and-under crowd as well.  Every time I’ve been there, she seems to produce, miraculously, a brand-new tub of sidewalk chalk or a new carton of bubbles.  And the snacks?  She always has the best ones.  Sometimes we think about taking the kids to Disney World, and then they say, “Nah, can we just go to Nan’s house instead?”

I’m trying to take a cue from my friend and keep some simple and inexpensive goodies on hand for impromptu gatherings with young guests.  My new favorite?  Glow sticks.  I buy them at the dollar store (where you can find a package of 8 for $1).  I now buy a handful of packages every time I’m there, and I hide them away in a cabinet to save for a special day.

Because you should never under-estimate the ability of a child to be occupied–endlessly, for hours–by something that glows in the dark.

It’s a perfect thing to pull out at the end of a cookout with friends, while the kids run around in the darkened backyard.  Not to mention that having a few special treats on-hand is a good idea with your own kids, too.  We had an unusually long rainy spell earlier this month, and my stash of glow sticks proved to be a real sanity saver when we started climbing the walls.



And if all else fails, you can use them to spell out distress messages on your roof to passing planes: HELP IT’S BEEN RAINING FOR SIX DAYS AND I’M ALONE WITH THE CHILDREN.

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84 thoughts on “Works For Me: Glow Sticks

  1. Domestic Spaz says:

    Glow sticks are DEFINITELY a great idea! We had a package of them stashed in the center console of the minivan from one Halloween. On our last road trip the kids were antsy so we pulled them out after dark! Instant entertainment.
    (We’re the last family in America to not have a TV in their van, btw.)

  2. Honey Mommy says:

    Sorry I put mine in there twice! I forgot to put in my subject and was afraid no one would check it out (we are all a bit sick here, so my brain is not fully functioning).
    I wasn’t trying to be a link hog!! Ignore the first one if you want to!

  3. Robin ~ PENSIEVE says:

    Oh…and how funny is this? I don’t think ANYONE will venture over to my blog after I posted IRONING TIPS! What was I thinking???
    “Iron” is a four-letter word, a very BAD four-letter word!!

  4. Green Baby Guide says:

    Okay, I don’t want to be the killjoy here, but I experienced a traumatic glow stick incident as a child. I was wearing my brand new turquoise dress and had a glowstick necklace around my neck. Somehow it exploded and ruined my dress. I never forgave that glow stick.

  5. The (Almost) Amazing Mammarino says:

    Wonderful tip! Ditto to the one who mentioned using them on car trips! They’re indispensable for our family. We like the twisty ones that have wire inside. They really bring out the kids’ creativity!
    My then-2 year old once chewed a hole in a glow stick. Thankfully, it was non-toxic, but boy, did it STINK!

  6. Kristin says:

    We have some friends like yours, they even have glow sticks! And my kids love them!
    Another thing that my childless (i.e. toy-less) sister-in-law used to drag out was dominoes. It entertained my toddlers for hours – they used them as blocks.

  7. Prairie Rose says:

    And those things are AWESOME to take with you to Disney World for the nighttime parade. For a couple bucks you get a whole canister, and we had my niece hand them out to all the kids sitting around us waiting for the parade to start. She got to have the joy of giving, we put a little extra magic into the day of a ton of kids, and we spent about 20% of what we would have paid for ONE glowing toy they sell there on the carts.
    Works for Me indeed. 🙂

  8. Abbey says:

    I don’t have a WFMW, but I wanted to tell you that glow sticks have another favorite use in our family. We keep a few in each suitcase and use them as night lights when we’re travelling. It’s so much fun to let the kids pick the color(s) we use and it’s great to get you to the bathroom, so you can turn on the light once you’re inside.
    You can also find tons of glowsticks, cheaply, and other little goodies for guests at Oriental Trading Company. It’s one of my favorite places to shop.

  9. tammy b says:

    i ADORE glow sticks, but beware. i bought some at a discount store (a large tub of them) and after the kids had a fune time with some of them, we noticed glowing smudges on light switches, clothing, faces. needless to say, it really freaked us all out and we threw them all away, even the ones that we hadn’t used yet. so becareful.

  10. mom2my9 says:

    That is an amazing idea! Glow sticks! I really never thought of having extra cool toys like that on hand for guests. I do love having the neighborhood children over, so this will be a very useful suggestion for me. Thank you and I’ll see you next week!

  11. mombrud says:

    We love to bring them out on the 4th of July for the fireworks! They are also great for camping trips and night games. They help us keep track of the little ones in our large group situations.

  12. Sally says:

    I can’t believe you actually misspelled a word. You…the grammar queen! “12 and under CROWD”. I figure you’d want to know!

  13. Chel's Leaving a Legacy says:

    Glow sticks are great…but I never think to just “have” them around! Great idea! My kids have a ball with them at birthday parties and such; why wait for a special occasion?
    Oh, and um, sorry for posting twice…this is only my seond time. 🙂 I forgot a title.
    SO glad you’re back!

  14. Shan says:

    I hide those away in my dining room drawers but don’t always remember to resurface the fun again at a later date.
    What I wonder is if that glowing liquid could kill a chihuahua or pomeranian. I just know one day they are going to think a dropped glow stick is a chewie. My secret hope is that when it happens it’ll give them that beautiful hi-pro glo commercials are always bragging about. 😉

  15. Leanne says:

    oooh I love glow sticks, they’d be great for treasure hunts in the garden in winter.
    I must say I’ve missed this, I’ve been having withdrawal symptoms.

  16. Kim @ Situationally Single Mom says:

    Glow sticks are a great entertainer for the kids. But beware, if one of those puppys happens to leak on your furniture, it eats right through the finish down to the bare wood. My side table in my family room has paid the price and these little sticks are now carefully monitored around here.
    So glad to have WFMW back.

  17. Edi says:

    When we are on a long car trip I know we’ll be driving some part of it in the dark – I bring along the glow sticks…my kids love them.

  18. Octamom says:

    I might even be able to convince myself that glow sticks meet some kind of science requirement for school—chemistry, light as a particle and a wave, how the eye perceives light—-gotta get to the dollar store!

  19. Susan says:

    Please, somebody tell me! What is the best degreasing spray cleaner for the kitchen? There’s cooked-on grease around the stove burners in this house that we’re renting that I just can’t scrub off. Thanks!

  20. jenny says:

    Heck, I love glowsticks! I’ll have to remember the dollar store the next time I want to stock up on toys. I hope that once my children leave the chewing/biting/licking/ingesting phase, we will be able to have a glowstick-palooza!
    But for now, toys for adult visitors will include glow variety – how fun on a late summer night!

  21. Amanda says:

    Just a note, to make them last longer keep them in the freezer. Once they have been activated you stick them back in the freezer and breathe a little more life into them. They’re not as bright, but they still work!

  22. Amy says:

    You ought to check out eBay for glow sticks. A while back I got a pack of about 100 for I think 5 or 6 bucks. Quite a deal! We’re STILL using them and they’re so much fun.

  23. Emily says:

    Glow sticks have been our tradition at the 4th of July celebration every year. However this year was our last year for them. My dd was trying to reactivate her glow stick by shaking it at bedtime when it started leaking and got in her eye! It didn’t do any long term damage, but hurt really bad for quite a while. Before we got her to the sink to rinse her eyes, they were glowing. Be careful with the glowsticks.

  24. Jacquelyn@Because I Said So! says:

    We do the glow stick, glow necklaces, bracelets, etc. I don’t know if anyone added this or not, but if the kids tire before the sticks start to fade, pop them in the freezer (the sticks, not the kids, of course). They will retain their glowability until the next time, no kidding!
    That must be worthy of a frugal award—stretching the use of an eight to the dollar item!
    Glad to see you back, Shannon!

  25. Tara says:

    My mom couldn’t figure out how to leave a comment on your post, so she emailed it to me. Thought you’d get a kick out of it:
    I didn’t see a way to leave comments, but whoever wrote in about the “glowsticks” should know: they are wonderful fun for a 9-year-old BOY who is a budding crime-scene investigator. Last fall after he had been sent to bed, Logan took some, broke them open and shook the contents all over himself and his room. After the house got quiet, he started screaming bloody murder. When his parents rushed in…at 10 PM after everyone in the house was asleep…the room looked like a murder scene that had been sprayed with Luminol, making the blood spatter glow in the dark. I don’t believe he’ll ever do that again.
    Sheila Simmons (’s mom)

  26. Becca says:

    We love glow sticks too! Not only are they fun, but I have used them as a belt for my toddler at night gatherings so I can keep an eye on where he is! Much easier to keep track of that way!

  27. Racheal says:

    I know that this might sound really weird to most people. We love glow sticks too, but we use them for something very different. My husband lost his daughter in a car accident 5 years ago, so once a year, on a day that many people do a candle light vigil for the children that they have lost, we take a bunch of glow sticks to her grave and place them around her headstone. It is neat because they glow all night long. Candles either blow out in the wind or are a fire hazard.

  28. Edwina says:

    Oh my gosh, I can truly related to not only the glow sticks, which my 3 adorable Grandchildren love, but the pantry full of goodies. Everyone always loves to open my pantry because I have so many goodies waiting inside for everyone. That’s right, there not only for the kids, but the big kids love them too. Love all of your articles……

  29. Kim says:

    Oh No! I just entered my first WWMW & BLEW IT! I’m sorry…. I linked to my blog and not just the post. And, I forgot to write the topic with my name! I’m SORRY!!! Will not screw up next time. Thanks for hosting this! PS — If there is a way I can correct my error, please let me know. Here is the link to my post ~ and my topic is “Craft Table”. I’m #273 if it’s possible to delete and start over. SORRY!!! Have a good night…. Kim

  30. Kim says:

    OK, clearly I need to go to bed and call it a night!!! I did NOT mean WWMW (whatever the heck that means)…. I meant WFMW! I think it’s time to say Good~Night!!! 🙂

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