Celebrate Mardi Gras Family Style with Easy DIY Shoebox Floats

By Tiffany Olmstead, Former Publisher of Macaroni KID Monroe February 10, 2024

Mardi Gras (aka Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday) was a medieval celebration which started in Europe during the 1600s. New Orleans adopted the celebration of Mardi Gras in the 1700s, shortly after it became a city in 1718. 

Mardi Gras is always celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which means that the date changes each year. The changing date doesn't seem to bother anyone, because the holiday is always bursting with costumes, beads, King Cake, parades, and music, no matter when it falls.

Celebrate Mardi Gras as a family with your own shoe box floats! These are so fun to make and can be created with materials that you probably already have at home. PLUS, it's a great project for all ages.


  • Shoebox with an unattached lid
  • Wrapping paper, tissue paper or any other craft paper
  • Tape, hot glue, staples
  • Scissors
  • Doubloons (yellow or gold paper will do!)
  • Beaded necklaces, Mardi Gras garland (make these yourself!)
  • Decorative toys, masks, dolls, cars, buttons, candy
  • Markers, crayons, feathers, paint, flags, pipe cleaners, glitter
  • Optional: Small axles, wheels and string 


  1. Pick a shoebox; one with an unattached lid works best.
  2. Think of a theme for your float. "A Pirate's Life", "Under the Sea", or "Amazing Superheroes" are some examples. We found cake decor plus their toys and followed a pirate theme.
  3. Cover the outside of box and all sides of the lid with paper or paint. Turn the shoebox upside down to form the base.
  4. Choose how to attach lid, either to the side or end of the box to form a backdrop, or supported above the base.
  5. Attach the lid to the short-side of box by standing it up straight to create a high back for the float. Use a stapler or hot glue gun (with parental guidance). 
  6. Suspend the box lid above the base by attaching straws, dowels or other long, thin material (we found bamboo skewers) to the box along the sides. Hot glue or craft glue may be needed. If you choose this option, decorate the lid first! 
  7. Time to decorate! Write your theme on the lid or box. Use your imagination, glitter, paint, foam stickers, etc. Create paper cutouts and your own Krewe emblems. Build a seat or stage for your doll or action figure, hang ribbons or beads on the sides. Using a straw and paper, you could make a flag. Have fun with it!


  • Take your celebration one step further! Attach a string and wheels so you can have your own parade. You may even find a toy car that the shoebox can fit over.
  • Does your family love a good competition? Award prizes for best Mardi Gras float in different categories. A few ideas to get you started would be Most Colorful, Over the Top, and Best Use of Beads.
  • Top off your Mardi Gras celebration with a King Cake from a local bakery. You can read about the King Cake tradition here.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!
(Let the good times roll!)