How to Decorate a Car for a Parade: 14 Steps (with Pictures) (2024)

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Co-authored byHannah Madden

Last Updated: July 24, 2021References

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Whether you’re celebrating a national holiday or driving by for a birthday party, decorating your car for a parade is half the fun! But with so many options out there, it can be hard to choose which decorations to use (and to figure out what won’t scratch your paint). We've picked a few of the best options so you can make your car the star of the show while keeping it in tip top shape. Don’t forget to smile and wave!

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  1. 1

    Blow up some balloons to catch everyone’s eye. Nothing says “party time” like a bundle of bright balloons! Grab a bunch and tie them to your hood, your antennae, and your side mirrors. Make sure you knot them tightly so they don’t fly away in the wind.[1]

    • If there are lots of little kids watching the parade you’re in, you could untie a balloon every now and again and give it away as a special present.
  2. 2

    Use streamers for a quick and easy decoration. Pick up a roll of streamers from your local party supply store and use masking tape to attach them to the front of your hood. Twist 2 colors together, then wind the streamers around the sides and back of your car, too.[2]

    • Streamers don’t hold up well in water, so if it’s going to rain on your parade, stay away from this party decoration.


  3. 3

    Write messages on your windows with window paint. Window paint is safe to use on your car windows, and you can easily wash it off when you’re done. Pick up some fun colors and write “Happy Birthday,” “Congrats Grad,” or “Merry Christmas” on your windows. Just make sure you can still see![3]

    • If you’re feeling artistic, you can draw some fun pictures, too.
    • When the parade is over, use soap and water to scrub the paint off.
  4. 4

    Hang cans from the bumper to make some noise. Just like you've seen in a classic romantic movie, tie 3ft (0.91m) lengths of twine to the tops of empty cans and attach them to the tow hook on the back of your car. When you drive around, the cans will bounce around and draw attention.[4]

    • If you’re planning on driving fast or going a long distance, cans probably aren’t your best option. They can get caught on objects in the road and be a hazard if you’re driving quickly.
  5. 5

    Hold a sign out the window for a personalized message. Writing on your windows can be hard, especially if you’re trying to say something specific. For an easy way to get your message across, grab a permanent marker and a poster board and get to writing! You can send a message to the birthday girl or boy, congratulate a graduate, or wish someone good luck.[5]

    • If you’re doing a parade for your friend or family member, you can hand the sign to them as you drive by. That way, they’ll have a fun memento to remember the day with.
    • You can just hold the sign out your window, or you can attach it to the side of your car with masking tape.
  6. 6

    Blast some music for a roving DJ setup. Everyone loves a little music to set the mood! Turn your volume up, find the perfect playlist, and bump your music so everyone around you can hear it. Christmas parades could use a little holiday music, Independence Day parades might like a little patriotism, and birthday parties could use some fun beats.[6]

    • If you’re driving in a neighborhood, the people around you might not appreciate your music so much. Keep it to a minimum if you aren’t sure about the area.
  7. 7

    Hang a banner across your hood for a fun message. Grab a paper banner (or make one yourself) and lay it over the hood of your car. Use a few pieces of masking tape to attach it to the front and drive around with a fun personalized message on the front of your car.[7]

    • If it’s windy out, keep an eye on the banner as you drive. You might need to keep a few spare pieces of masking tape nearby just in case you need them.
    • If putting a banner on the hood isn’t your style, you can attach it to either side of your car instead.
  8. 8

    Outline shapes on your windows with colored duct tape. If you don’t feel like drawing on your windows, how about using tape instead? Use some brightly colored duct tape to write simple messages or outline basic shapes, like squares, triangles, and rectangles on your windows.[8]

    • Duct tape is fine on your car windows, but don’t put it on the body of your car. The sticky tape will definitely take some paint off with it.
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Holiday and Event Ideas

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  1. 1

    Get spooky with pumpkins and ghouls on Halloween. Your car can be scary, too! Grab some cardboard cutouts of pumpkins, ghosts, or monsters and attach them to your car with masking tape. Twist orange and black streamers together and attach them to the side of your car with masking tape, or draw some pumpkins on your windows with window paint.[9]

    • You could even set a skeleton in the seat next to you for an undead passenger.
    • For extra doom and gloom, use red window paint to make bloody handprints all over your car.
  2. 2

    Make your car patriotic on Independence Day. It’s all about America on the 4th of July, so stick with a red, white, and blue color scheme. Use streamers, balloons, banners, and colorful duct tape to show your support for the nation as you drive around. Bonus points if you put on a sparkly top hat to dress up like Uncle Sam![10]

    • You could also attach flag posts to the sides of your car and wave some real American flags as you drive.
  3. 3

    Rock the school’s mascot for a graduation parade. Get a cardboard cutout or a car decal of the school’s mascot and stick it on the side of your car to show your support. Grab some streamers or balloons in the school colors (you can check their website if you aren’t sure what they are) and make a personalized sign congratulating the graduate.[11]

    • If you have a gift for the graduate, you can hand it to them out the window or toss it on their lawn as you drive by.
    • You can also write your congratulations on your car window with window paint.
  4. 4

    Stick to blue and pink for a gender reveal party. Girl or boy? That’s the big question! Grab some window paint and draw question marks all over your windows in blue and pink. Decorate the rest of your car with blue and pink balloons to make this parade one to remember.[12]

    • If you want to get something special for the parent-to-be, try dropping off a fun baked good or some new baby clothes.
  5. 5

    Make your car glow with string lights on Christmas. For a fun Christmas parade, wrap your car in Christmas lights from side to side (try not to cover any windows up too much). Plug them into the cigarette lighter in your car, then add tinsel around the lights with masking tape. It’ll be like a roving Christmas tree![13]

    • If you want to use lights around your car, you’ll need to get an adapter to turn the plug into one that can plug into your cigarette lighter. Look for one at an auto parts shop near you.
  6. 6

    Use balloons, steamers, and banners for a birthday celebration. If you’re driving by to wish someone a Happy Birthday, you can turn your car into part of their special day. Go all out with balloons, streamers, window paint, and a fun banner to make their birthday even more special. Don’t forget to hand them a gift out the window![14]

    • If you know the person’s favorite color, you can deck your car out in it to make their day even more special.
    • Try blasting their favorite song or one that will make them laugh as you drive by.
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    Can I decorate a rental car for Christmas?

    How to Decorate a Car for a Parade: 14 Steps (with Pictures) (19)

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    You shouldn't decorate a rental car without permission. If you're given permission to do so, however, then you can decorate it as you'd like. Try to only add decorations that you know you can easily remove before having to return the car.

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      • Wash your car before you start decorating to get rid of dust and grime.[15]


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      • Decorations usually don’t hold up well in the rain, so keep an eye on the weather.


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      • Check your local party supply store to see if they sell car decorating kits.


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      About This Article

      How to Decorate a Car for a Parade: 14 Steps (with Pictures) (33)

      Co-authored by:

      Hannah Madden

      wikiHow Staff Writer

      This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Hannah Madden. Hannah Madden is a writer, editor, and artist currently living in Portland, Oregon. In 2018, she graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. Hannah enjoys writing articles about conservation, sustainability, and eco-friendly products. When she isn’t writing, you can find Hannah working on hand embroidery projects and listening to music. This article has been viewed 53,641 times.

      16 votes - 85%

      Co-authors: 4

      Updated: July 24, 2021


      Categories: Celebration Events

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      • How to Decorate a Car for a Parade: 14 Steps (with Pictures) (34)

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        May 18, 2021

        "The short, clear, step-by-step "how to" directions (i.e. with masking tape) were so very helpful!"

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