How To Make Shoe Box Floats {A Mardi Gras Tradition For NOLA Kids}

Kid-Friendly Mardi Gras Craft

How To Make Shoe Box Floats to Celebrate Mardi Gras With Kids

It’s Carnival time! Is there any better season in New Orleans with kids? No! Mardi Gras is pure magic, and it always means craft time at my house. Whether it’s turning a wagon into a Mardi Gras float or constructing some kind of costume, my glue gun is always HOT on King’s Day!

This time, I turned to a craft that’s a tradition for many a New Orleans kid – the shoe box float! I ransacked the craft store, bought a king cake, and invited some friends over to celebrate the start of Carnival with this fun and easy project. If you want, you can also make the easiest kid-friendly king cake recipe at home before or after your Mardi Gras craft. (Full disclosure: most of my friends’ kids are toddlers, so we ended up doing all of the work while they played … but we didn’t mind! We had a blast and so did they!)

Mardi Gras Shoe Box Float Craft Supples

  • A shoe box with the lid (Any size will do – an adult shoe box gives you more room to decorate, but a children’s shoe box takes less time! Make sure it’s a shoe box that has a totally removable lid, not an attached one like on a Nike box.)
  • Glue (We used a hot glue gun and Tacky Glue.)
  • Construction paper OR wrapping paper (This will cover your box before you decorate – I found great sparkly wrapping paper at the dollar store!)IMG_0863
  • “Riders” (You can pick up an inexpensive plastic doll at the dollar store or use something you have on hand like Little People, Lego people, Barbies, or even a plastic dinosaur – whatever works with your theme!)
  • Decorations (This can literally be anything! We used beads, glitter, confetti, feathers, ribbon, pom pom balls, and foam stickers from the craft store and dollar store, along with random finds from our craft stashes. You could also use pipe cleaners, dry pasta, paint, and anything else you have hanging around from past projects.)
  • Optional: alcoholic beverages for the adults (…especially if messes give you anxiety!)

Mardi Gras Craft Like a Boss

  1. Open your shoe box. (If you opted for alcohol for the adults, take a big swig now.) The box will be turned upside down to create the base of your float and the lid will create the back wall of your float. Cover the box in construction/wrapping paper. We opted to use wrapping paper, since it’s quick and we already had the rhythm from Christmas gift wrapping!shoe box float Collage
  2. Cover the lid in a similar fashion, making sure to leave the underside of the lid free to slide back onto the shoe box. You can also opt to leave the lid bare and decorate once it’s attached to the box.
  3. Attach the lid to the box with hot glue.
  4. Let your creativity run wild! Feathers, glitter, confetti, beads, stickers, whatever your inner Mardi Gras queen’s heart desires! We opted to use ribbon with a ruffled edge to imitate a “float skirt” along the bottom. We also used piping to create a “lip” on the base of our floats. I spread a thin layer of glue on part of my float and covered it with confetti. You may opt to name your float/krewe and add the name with sticker letters or markers too!
  5. Add your riders! I used my daughter’s Little People Disney Princess castle’s throne and princesses. A friend decorated a small plastic doll from the dollar store. Another used skeletons to complete her macabre themed float! If your “rider” doesn’t seem festive enough, attach foam stickers or hot glue feathers to make them sparkle.
  6. Do not, I repeat, do not look at the mess that is [probably] now all over your floor. This is part of the joy of being a New Orleans Mom at Mardi Gras. Bask in the glory of your beautiful Mardi Gras float(s) and have your own mini-parade!

We ended up having so much fun making these floats that we made more later. You can save your floats and add to them each year, letting your krewe grow and grow into a Super Krewe!



  1. This brought back some fond memories. We made floats in grade school and had a parade around the halls. When we had kids the did the same.

  2. You may also enjoy reading my husband’s (Leif Pedersen) new children’s book, The Adventures of The Swamp Kids: Pierre’s Pirogue Parade. It’s about The Swamp Kids wanting to have their very own Mardi Gras parade right down in da’ bayou! We also have a craft page at the end of the book that featured this very same craft of how to make a shoebox float!

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  3. Thank you. You saved us. We just used your description to make a float. I would not have known where to start since we are not from here. Thanks again.

    • You can glue or tape tiny plastic cars such as hot wheels to the bottom of your float. You could also make an axel and find something wheel-like to put on them and then secure them but make sure that they still turn. Hope this helped!

  4. Tonya,

    We use a toy truck glued underneath the box. If I don’t have one big enough I just glue something Under the box till it is right size. Blocks cardboard whatever works to make the truck wheels the ridge fit


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