How to Create a Shoebox Float

Parades often celebrate an event or achievement. Create your own parade with floats formed from empty shoe boxes. These floats offer an opportunity for originality and expression in a project suitable for almost any age. Shoe-box floats offer a wide range of decorating options. Younger children may create simple designs, while older artists can go all out with their designs. Arrange the finished floats in a line for a miniature parade. These directions produce one float with a patriotic theme.

Separate the lid and box. Cover the entire lid in blue and the exterior of the box in red, using construction paper, aluminium foil or paint. Use matching materials, or contrast for effect. Allow the glue or paint to dry.

Place the box, open-side down, on the work surface. Stand the lid on its short edge and slide it against one end of the box. The upright lid forms the back of the float, creating an L shape. Secure the lid in place with a bead of glue along the inside of the lid where it meets the box.

Decorate the sides and back of the float. Cut out pictures of American landmarks or draw suitable images. Drape red, white and blue ribbon or crepe paper streamers from the highest point on the backdrop to the front corners of the float for a regal look. Paste a strong image, such as a picture of Mount Rushmore, on the inside of the box lid.

Secure cutouts, figurines or action figures to the top surface of the float as riders. Use images such as the four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore or other significant figures in American history, such as presidents, statesmen and civilians such as Clara Barton or Harriet Tubman.

Place the finished floats in a line to form the parade.


Create a covered float by suspending the box lid above the box. Attach straws, dowels or other long, thin materials to the box at regular intervals around the perimeter to support the lid. Change the colours of the float to fit the theme or event being celebrated: team colours for a sporting event; pastels for Easter; red, white and blue for July 4th or red and green for Christmas, for example. Use toys to decorate the float, such as miniature cows for a farm float, or die-cast race cars for a racing float. Shaped candies provide an additional source of decorating material Cover the float in small pieces of coloured paper to emulate the irregular surface of floral floats. Add additional interest with decorative features shaped from modelling clay. Place geographic elements such as hills on the float for more visual appeal. Use moving elements like pinwheels or fluttering ribbons for additional charm. Battery-operated flashing lights can add excitement. Check the local toy, party or dollar store for miniature figures to add to the float. Cake decorating supplies offer another possible source of design elements.


Shoe-box floats provide a colourful display, but lack durability. They will not hold up under rough play. Use caution with fire around the floats. The cardboard and paper can ignite easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Empty shoebox
  • Construction paper, wrapping paper or aluminium foil
  • Crepe paper sheets or streamers
  • Paint, markers or crayons
  • Glue or tape
  • Miniature figures
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Ribbon (optional)
  • Modelling clay (optional)
  • Stickers (optional)
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About the Author

Mary Beth Magee began her writing career with an article in the "New Orleans Times-Picayune" more than 40 years ago. She has been published in local and national media, including "Real Estate Today" and "Just Praising God." Magee holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology, with a focus on adult learning, from Elmhurst College.