Cardboard Box Cars for Drive-In Movie Party: A How-To

As promised in this post about Miss’s Brave-themed movie party, I am sharing with you how to make the cardboard box “cars” we used for the “drive-in” element of the movie. There are probably lots of ways to do it. But, though I found lots of sites with cute pictures of kids in their cardboard box cars, I couldn’t find any sources that told how to actually make the cars. So I had to figure it out for myself. I’m sharing here so you don’t have to if you ever decide to use this awesome idea (which you definitely should do).

Making these was actually quite easy, but to save you a bit of brain power, just follow these steps!

1. Plan ahead enough that you can save up the boxes you’ll need. This was probably the hardest part. Fortunately, I decided I wanted to do this for Miss’s birthday before Christmas, so I was able to save plenty of boxes from gifts we ordered (I love you Amazon Prime). But I still didn’t quite have enough. I wasn’t worried about the boxes all being the same size, just big enough for a small person to fit. In fact, for the two littlest (Sis and our little friend who is just a few days younger), I used a diaper box. I did manage to get enough (and may or may not have placed some largish orders from Amazon Prime to make sure I’d get more big boxes – kidding!) though I had Super Friend holding a box or two for me just in case.

2. Anyway once you have enough, cut all of the flaps off each box except one per box on a short side. This will be your “dashboard.”


3. Get some paper to wrap the boxes. I stressed over what to use for this. I had some pretty purple and pink paper left over from wrapping books during Advent, but I didn’t think our one boy guest would go for that, and I didn’t want to make a different color just for him (wasn’t sure if that would make him feel cool or weirdly different), so I went to Hobby Lobby thinking I would get some of the huge rolls of paper they have for teachers to cover bulletin boards, maybe in red or blue. Except that those rolls of paper are expensive. So. I just went for a roll of inexpensive butcher paper. I think the roll I got was about $6 and it covered all the boxes with plenty left over.


4. For each box, flip your one flap in, but don’t push it down (keep it parallel to the bottom of the box). Turn the box over and wrap it like a gift.


5. Then you need to cut the paper to make the opening for a kid to sit in. I did this by poking my scissors through in the center, a few inches from the back wall of the car-box. I cut straight forward toward the “dashboard,” stopping an inch or two short of it. I turned the scissors and cut in a “T” out toward the sides, and then, just before getting to each side, I angled back toward the front and cut up to the corner where the dashboard flap meets the side. Then I went back to where I stuck my scissors in and cut a “Y” shape to the back corners of the box.

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I know that sounds as clear as mud, and maybe I should have taken a few more pictures, but if you’ve ever wrapped a present, you can do this easily even if you don’t cut it exactly as described.

6. After cutting, tape the paper to the inside, folding it under the dashboard flap so it’s smooth. Note: I did not put any extra tape on the box to hold the dashboard in place. The only thing that the kids were setting on it was a box of popcorn and cup of water. Wrapping it this way made it sturdy enough, but if you need it to be stronger, I’d secure it in place with some tape.

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7. Because I didn’t shell out mucho dinero for the huge paper rolls, some of the boxes didn’t get completely covered on both ends. I just taped a piece of printer paper over the spots where the butcher paper didn’t cover.


8. Add “car parts.” You could do this lots of ways. Cutting yellow circles for headlights and hot-glueing black paper plates for wheels was enough to give the general impression of a car. I had wanted to cut more paper plates and glue them on as steering wheels, put personalized license plates on the back, and use some shiny silver duct tape I bought (not regular duct tape, this stuff is fancy!) to make a grill or something on the front. But, I procrastinated, so I didn’t quite have time to do all the cute details I wanted to do.



I still loved how they turned out.DSC_0582-2


The kids did too.



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