Easy Parade Float Ideas

    by Ann Hudson

    About the Author

    Ann Hudson is a freelance writer who began her writing career working for a small community newspaper. While there, her work as a feature writer and a weekly columnist were honored. Hudson holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. She has been writing for more than 30 years.


    When time, manpower and money are not an issue, nearly anyone can create a parade float that is a detailed and impressive work of art. But, more often than not, those assets are limited. Coming up with ideas for parade floats that are simple in design and are not labor-intensive is not impossible, however. Working smarter, not harder, is the key. In some cases, a good concept is just as effective as an overabundance of bells and whistles.


    There are some materials specific to float building that can help to create a polished and professional-looking float with a minimal investment of time. Metal trailers can present some real challenges when it comes to attaching decorations. Magnetic tape can remedy this challenge. This tape is usually around 1/2 inches wide and comes in 100-foot rolls. The magnetic properties of the tape allow it to stick to the metal trailer and provide a means of attachment for all kinds of decorative items.

    Decorating Supplies

    Decorative items could include garlands, vinyl festooning, metallic fringe and foam board letters and shapes. These ready-made products also make for quick and simple float decorating. If both budget and time are matters of concern, it may be necessary to take a creative and homemade approach. As long as decorating can take place shortly before the parade, inexpensive supplies such as balloons and crepe paper streamers can be used to add color and a sense of movement.

    Scenes and Props

    A simple scene can provide an effective expression of a parade theme. For example, for a Christmas parade, you can create Santa's workshop simply by using a wooden table, a few chairs, toys, brightly wrapped gifts and participants in elf costumes. Depict a harvest theme with bales of hay, bushel baskets of real produce and live "harvesters" dressed in bib overalls and checked shirts.
    For scenes such as these, decorating the float will simply involve covering the trailer bed or wagon floor with artificial grass mats or floral sheeting and adding some kind of covering on the side of the wagon. This covering could be colorful fabric, metallic fringe or floral sheeting. The trick is to make sure to trim the covering so that the wheels of the wagon or trailer are concealed, but the covering does not drag on the ground or impede trailer movement. Garlands and festooning can also be added along the edge of the trailer for added pizazz. Other simple props can be made ahead of time, such as simple cardboard cut-outs that represent the theme of the float, which can be very effective. For example, cardboard cut outs of trees, flowers, or animals portray a nature theme. Trace the design on the cardboard, outline it with permanent black marker and fill in colors with acrylic craft paint.


    Different levels add visual interest to your float. These levels can be made with a variety of platforms covered with artificial grass or floral sheeting, or they may consist of simple wood and chicken wire frames. Tissues paper squares or giant tissue flowers provide color while concealing framework. Pushing the tissue paper squares into the chicken wire openings is a simple way to add color and texture. Create tissue paper flowers by folding the paper fan-style and securing at the center with a pipe cleaner. When the tissue paper layers are gently separated and spread apart, the blossom appears. Intersperse these flowers among the tissue paper squares for added detail.