Party in a Bottle: Sensory Bottles and How to Make Them

I have to admit… I hadn’t really made sensory bottles until recently.

I was first introduced to them by one of my friends at the Autism community center I used to facilitate programming for. She would make several of them with all sorts of materials, and then gleefully refer to each one as a “Party in a Bottle.”

When she made me one, I was very fascinated by it. It was a lovely purple, and I carried that thing with me for at least a month – if not more.

As I was researching about them, I found them to be really interesting! They’re very nice for calming down and helping with emotional regulation – but they can also be a lovely visual stim as well.
You can also use them for learning, too. Some people put letters or shapes with different colors in them. It’s a lot like those I-Spy games we had when I was a kid, where you try to find all the different objects hiding in the bottle.

After reading all of that, I have been really eager to try and make my own. It’s been a hard few months and I’m still dealing with some burnout, but I finally made one a few weeks ago! Our Neurodiversity Club also made some recently for an interactive event on campus for Civility Week, which was definitely fun. (If you’re interested, there’s actually a picture and a short interview the Johnson City Press did with us here!)

But now for the fun stuff:

Behold, my first attempt at a party in a bottle: the Mermaid Sensory Bottle

Sensory Bottle Attempt
A bottle filled with bright blue water, glitter, water beads, and baby oil.


For this, one of my friends actually showed me these water bottles called “Voss.” It’s like regular water, but with a sticker that makes it cost $3 more. I couldn’t taste a difference, but at least I tried it.  (Also: our local craft store sells very similar-looking bottles for $2 if that’s a thing you want to do).

My friends named it the mermaid sensory bottle. Apparently, when you look closely, it looks a bit like a mermaid tail. Honestly, it was not what I had planned; I just kinda threw things together and hoped for the best.

Supplies I used:

  • Voss water bottle
  • Water
  • Blue food coloring
  • Water beads
  • Glitter
  • Baby oil (you may want to use clear glue instead)

Here’s how to make it:

  • The first thing I did was add some water and blue food coloring. If you use food coloring, only do a couple of drops at the most; otherwise, you won’t be able to see anything in it.
  • Next, I dropped in several water beads – things that I am very new to and I’m not sure about them. I tried to eat one a few weeks back (don’t ask me why; my brain told me to do it), but I can definitely confirm: they taste terrible.

    Water Bead - Not Snack
    A bright blue water bead that has been split in half, with small pieces surrounding it.
  • After that, I added some glitter – as in, I accidentally dropped the whole thing of glitter in it.
  • The last step is adding some baby oil. To be honest, I think I probably added too much. Next time I make a “fancy” one, I’ll probably use a lot less – if any at all.  I haven’t really decided yet.
    If you’re making this, you might want to superglue the lid on. Otherwise, you might be cleaning glitter out of your carpet for months.


Overall, I think it turned out really good! Unfortunately, the glitter seems to have begun to clump together after a few weeks. I’m not sure if that’s a baby oil thing, the glitter, or if it just decided to give up.

Honestly, I think plain water bottles work just as well. They may not look as “fancy” or professional, but they’re also cheaper and more accessible to get. It’s all about what works best for you, and you can be as creative with it as you want.

Making Your Own

There are a lot of things you can put in sensory bottles as well – and you can often find them at your local Dollar Tree or discount store:

  • Craft beads
  • Pom-poms
  • Buttons
  • Small shells
  • Marbles
  • Sequins

You can also fill it with things other than water, too!
Some ideas include:

  • Sand
  • Dirt
  • Rice
  • Pebbles
  • Beads
  • Beans
  • Hair gel
  • Water beads (without adding water; watching them bounce around in the bottle is very fun!)

I’ve also seen people make themed sensory bottles, which is really neat. I’ve seen rainbow ones, bottles based on holidays or seasons, space-themed ones, and a lot of other stuff. I don’t know if I have the spoons to make something like that, but looking up sensory bottles on Pinterest is definitely a fun way to pass the time.

If you do decide to make one, remember that it’s up to you to choose whatever you feel like doing. Don’t be upset with yourself if it doesn’t look perfect; sometimes the end result is even better than what you planned in the first place. I think it’s more about having fun creating it and figuring out what makes you happy!

5 thoughts on “Party in a Bottle: Sensory Bottles and How to Make Them

  1. Hi Courtney! I found an old tweet you wrote back in 2016, and I’m wondering if I could quote you and cite you in an essay I’m writing about autistic activism on Twitter. I’m happy to share with you what I’ve written so far, so you can get an idea of how I’m talking about your quote. Either way, thank you for creating, educating, and sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yay!!! It’s this one: ““For #WorldAutismAwarenessDay, PLEASE listen to those of us who are #actuallyautistic. Our voices- whether in speech or otherwise- matter.” My essay is about how autistic activists redefine autism expertise on Twitter–so that they are the experts rather than non-autistic doctors and parents. My email is rosorio at odu dot edu. I can send you my draft. (Also love this whole website! Such a great resource. Thank you for making it!)


  2. Tried to make some at Christmas. Unfortunately, red sequins in them were not color fast. The solution became so dark that other colors no longer looked nice. Ended up dumping them. Will try again, just make sure everything is color fast.


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