In case you missed it, tie-dye is making a big comeback right now. And considering how badly we need a rainbow-colored mood lifter in our casual wear wardrobe, we’re not mad about it. But why should parents care about tie-dye? Well for starters, this groovy style is sure to flatter the whole fam (seriously). Even better? You don’t even have to shell out to get the look since it’s super easy to accomplish at home with a few hours of kid-friendly crafting and a blank canvas (i.e., a plain white tee). For these reasons, we strongly suggest you try your hand at hosting a tie-dye party for kids with your brood, quarantine pod or even virtually via Zoom. (Trust us, a virtual tie-dye experience will be way more fun than your conference calls.) Here’s everything you need to know about how to get the tie-dye party started so you can gather your brood and give it a go.
How to Throw a Tie-Dye Party for Kids (And Rock Their World)
PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.
What You’ll Need to Host a Tie-dye Party
Some supplies are required in order to make tie-dye magic happen for a group of young people. Fortunately, the materials are inexpensive and easy to find—just consult the following shopping list and all bases will be covered.
- RIT dye. Obviously, you cannot give a plain piece of clothing a psychedelic makeover without dye, and not any kind will do. The dye needed for a tie-dye project (aka RIT dye) is specifically designed to be used on fabric. It’s very easy to find online, but you can also buy the stuff at a local craft store if you prefer. Or make life even easier for yourself by scooping up a ready-made tie-dye party kit that includes both dye and squirt bottles, plus all the instructions you need to succeed.
- Gloves. Latex gloves are a must for any tie-dye project. Although RIT dye isn’t known to be super toxic, it is still recommended that unnecessary skin contact be avoided. Plus, disposable gloves will help ensure that tiny fingers don’t stain the couch when the fun is over.
- Rubberbands. Stock up on rubber bands (the wider, the better) so the kids can use them to create varied color patterns by twisting and bunching up different areas of the T-shirt. You should also have them handy so that you can secure the latex gloves—not typically a great fit for little hands—with a (not too tight) band on each wrist.
- Squirt bottles. When kids are involved (especially young ones), it’s best not to have them dipping the fabric directly into containers of diluted dye. Spare yourself a messy outcome by filling squirt bottles with the recommended amounts of dye and water instead.
- Aluminum trays (or some other basin). RIT dye might be designed for fabric, but it’s known to stain other surfaces as well. Minimize your post-party cleanup and prevent big spills by having each child dye their T-shirt inside a disposable aluminum tray (the deeper the better) or another large container that you don’t care too much about—like a bucket or washbasin, for example.
- Drop cloth. Tie-dying can be done on the floor or over a table but in either case, you’ll want to protect the work surface with a waterproof (i.e., plastic) drop cloth. If you only have a drop cloth that is made of um, cloth, you can still use it—just put down a layer of newspaper underneath to be extra safe.
- White T-shirts. For best tie-dye results, pick a pure white textile made of natural material for your canvas—cotton, linen and rayon are all good options. (We’re fans of the classic Hanes tee.)
4 Tips to Ensure the Tie-Dye Party Is a Blast
1. Take the fun outside
It is possible to have a tie-dye party inside your home without disastrous outcomes—but it just isn’t worth the worry or the (very real) risk of damaged goods. Set up the tie-dye station outside for a more relaxed vibe that will benefit young and grown-up guests alike.
2. Don’t skimp on supplies
Most of the materials you need come in bulk anyway, so you don’t need to worry about running out of rubber bands or latex gloves. That said, it’s a good idea to have at least twice as many T-shirts as party-goers so each child can create more than one wearable masterpiece.
3. Keep the snacks safe
Everyone is going to be excited about a slice of pizza after an afternoon of crafting, but you definitely don’t want kids to accidentally eat the art supplies. Fortunately, you can avoid this scenario by simply setting up the refreshment station at a reasonable distance from the do-not-eat tie-dye zone.
4. Do your prep
Be sure to set up all the supplies before the younguns arrive. (T-shirts in basins? Check. Squirt bottles filled? Check.) This is especially important when it comes to the dye: RIT Dye needs to be diluted with water before use and that’s probably not something you want two dozen little hands to be involved in.
Now that you know what to do, start sending out the invites to a colorful, crafty party that’s bound to be the highlight of every kid’s summer vacation.
Why You Should Trust Us
PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.