Taking Fireworks To A Party

Been asked to "bring a firework"? Read this first!

Many people hold firework parties and ask guests to “bring a firework”. On paper this sounds like a great idea because it means the guests supply some or all of the pyro and lots of fun will be had by all. However, it can in some cases turn into one of the worst ideas ever – and I speak from experience.

The problem is that in most cases, fireworks laypeople when asked to buy a firework will always buy a selection box, such as one of these:

Selection Box
What NOT to take to a party! Please.

This is because most people buy on the basis of perceived value. Turning up with just one firework might make you look like a cheapskate, so why not get a box with twenty items in?

The problem is that whilst these boxes are great in some cases (like displays in smaller gardens, or for toddlers) they’re not suitable for any kind of display where you would want to make an impact, particularly for adult audiences. Here, you need good quality rockets and barrages to form the bulk of the display.

Put it like this: A single box with a dozen or two small farty fireworks is bad enough. Can you imagine half a dozen or more such boxes? Your hosts will of course have to be polite and you will have to stand and watch them all being let off. For several hours.

And to put some numbers on this, the box above (around £10) has 14 items in and an overall gunpowder content of 89g which is an average of just 6.4g per firework. A good pack of giant sparklers has around 5g!

Do the right thing: Buy big!

Instead, put all of your money into one single firework, whether that’s a rocket (most impact but shortest duration), a barrage (great impact and longest duration), or any one of the other main types of single fireworks available to consumers.

£10, £15, £20 and so on – typical firework spends for going to a party – will buy an absolutely cracking multishot barrage or a large display rocket. And there’s no greater satisfaction than knowing you supplied the best pyro at the party which is exactly what will happen if you put all of your money towards a powerful barrage rather than a selection box full of weedy little fountains.

It’s worth remembering that fireworks are categorised into Category F2 (typically 8m or 15m spectator distances) or Category F3 (25m spectator distance). If at all possible find out beforehand how much room your host has to play with.

Hosting a party yourself?

If you’re hosting a “bring a firework” party I recommend stipulating this on your invitations:

“Bring a firework! But please buy one single barrage or rocket. No selection boxes please.”

If you have a local fireworks shop that people are likely to use, it’s worth letting them know about your party and seeing if they’re willing to keep track of what guests are buying so they can steer people towards different purchases. This will help to avoid duplicates. I’ve seen a case where a local guy had a “Bring a rocket” party (mistakenly specifying “rocket” instead of a more general “firework”) and literally ended up with over 50 rockets. The problem was they were all the same, because the local firework shop, unaware of people buying for the same party, would always recommend the same rocket for that price point.

Note: Don’t ask a firework shop to keep a party list on or around Bonfire Night, they’re too busy. It’s only a good idea out of fireworks season, e.g. for summer parties.

Further information

The other Choosing Fireworks sections might also be of help in case your display also falls within the scope of those too.

If you’re a complete beginner and some of the terms used in this page are unclear then head over to the Beginners Start Here! page for a run-through of both fireworks and the extensive guides on my website.

The next step after narrowing down your choice of fireworks is buying them, arguably the most fun part! The Buying Fireworks sections will help you.

Then, it’s time to set up your pyro before firing it. The Setting Up Fireworks and Firing Your Display sections will guide you further.