glow-in-the-dark fun for the 4th of july

Courtney Takabayashi
July 04, 2024

Spending an evening under the stars is one of the best parts about summer! This 4th of July, try these glow-in-the-dark recipes and activities that are sure to brighten the night sky.

Note: While the following can glow in the dark on their own, for increased fun, use a UV light to boost glowing power. UV lamps, lightbulbs, or flashlights are available at big box retailers, hardware stores, and online.

You don’t have to live in an apocalyptic wasteland to enjoy this easy and delicious drink. The secret to the glow is tonic water. According to Scientific American, tonic water contains a chemical called “quinine,” which is made from tree bark and has a bitter taste. Quinine absorbs ultraviolet light and releases blue light. So, under a UV light, the quinine in the tonic water gives off a fluorescent effect. Science!

Also, 12 oz. of regular tonic water has around 32 grams of sugar so we opted for diet tonic water.


  • Clear or light-colored juice or soda (we used white juice and lemonade) 
  • Diet tonic water

Mix one part drink to ¼ part diet tonic water. Chill and serve.

Note: You can experiment with the ratios of juice to tonic water, but remember, the tonic water is bitter. 

The white grape juice (left) completely diminished the bitter taste, but it didn’t glow as vibrantly as the lemonade (right). The lemonade was slightly bitter, but still refreshing.

Now that we’re all experts in quinine, we can apply our knowledge to edible treats. In this case, flavored gelatin!

Lighter-colored flavors work best, like lemon and lime. The red, blue, and orange flavors will still glow, but not as intensely as the green or yellow gelatin.


  • 1 3 oz.-box flavored gelatin
  • 1 ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup diet tonic water
  • Cooking spray

Pour flavored gelatin into large bowl. Add boiling water and stir until gelatin dissolves, about two minutes. Add tonic water and mix. The mixture will be bubbly, that’s normal. Spray a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish or any size container you have or want to use. You can also pour into fun-shaped molds. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or until firm. 

If you have cookie cutters, cut out shapes. Or scoop and serve in a clear cup and enjoy! 

If you’ve ever had a difficult time finding your slippers in the dark, this craft is for you. Pick up some nontoxic, glow-in-the-dark paint from a craft store, big box retailer, or online. You can add the paint to your existing slippers or buy inexpensive slippers for the entire family!


  • Non-toxic glow-in-the-dark paint
  • Slippers

Decorate slippers with glow-in-the-dark paint. Don’t forget to paint the straps! 

Egg hunts aren’t just for Easter. With this easy, quick craft, your little ones will have the time of their lives searching for eggs in the dark.


  • Glow sticks
  • Plastic eggs

Snap a glow stick to activate and fold or tie so it fits in a plastic egg. Larger eggs are easier to stuff while you may need to tape the smaller eggs shut.

Hide the eggs and let the fun ensue! 

Safety warning: If it’s really dark outside, hide the eggs in places that are far away from tripping hazards, bodies of water, sharp objects, and stairs or steps. We held our egg hunt at dusk, so it wasn’t too dark yet.  

Happy 4th of July! 

More festive fun
Here are some ideas for food and activities that are holiday-inspired but can be adapted for any occasion and enjoyed year-round.  

chi chi dango for girls day
This chewy, sweet treat is popular in Hawaii and Japan. Make chi chi dango for yourself or to share!

diy mini mummy pinatas
Gather your little ghouls and goblins (or children if you have them) for a fun and easy Halloween craft. They’ll enjoy making, filling, and bursting these mummy pinatas made out of toilet paper rolls.

diy valentine’s day window clings
These festive window clings add a little personality to your windows! They’re easy and inexpensive to make.

easy, egg-cellent easter crafts
If you have a ton of broken crayons lying around the house, do we have a craft for you. While these crayons in the post are bunny-shaped, you can create any shape you’d like! 

easy valentine’s day crafts for kids
These crafts are cute and edible! Learn how to make a love bug out of a fruit cup and turn cheese and crackers into a fun, personalized treat.

four 4th of july charcuterie boards
Instead of spending Independence Day sweating over a grill for your backyard barbecue, gather the kids and make these fun and tasty charcuterie boards that are sure to delight the entire family.

fun father’s day gifts kids can make
Celebrate a special father or father figure in your life with these fun and easy crafts and recipes.

keiki-friendly easter recipes
Have your keiki help with these fun, easy, and delicious Easter-themed recipes that the family can enjoy any time of the year.

valentine’s day felt fortune cookies
These adorable felt fortune cookies are easy to make, customizable, and budget-friendly. Personalize these little gifts with a heartfelt message as the fortune.

Share this article

By commenting, you agree to Island Scene's Terms of Use.