how to make a (big) boy happy: turn a cardboard box into a diy lightning mcqueen costume

Apparently I’m not supposed to call them “cartoons”. They are animated films, I am told.

Does your husband love them too?

I’m not even going to tell you how big the collection of animated DVDs was that I inherited when we got married. (Yes, this was before either of us had children of our own.)

CARS and Tarzan top the list for Ryan. (Tarzan? Really??)

Before I even knew what happened, Ryan had introduced Levi to CARS. I think it was somewhere around his second birthday.

Now I have two boys obsessed with the CARS movie. (If Judah’s infatuation with match box cars is any indicator, he will soon follow suit.)

Even after introducing him to other great family movies like Happy Feet and Ratatouille and Finding Nemo, Levi’s love affair with CARS far surpasses the rest. There is absolutely no comparison.

I cannot begin to describe the joy this brings to Ryan. Truly, it makes him so happy. Like, over-the-moon, kid-in-a-candy-store, Christmas-morning, we’re-going-to-Disneyland happy.

Ryan’s been fantasizing about making a Lightning McQueen bed for Levi since before he was born. He’s talked often about the “race car bed” he will make one day. Since the boys room is fairly small and already pretty maxed out, I persuaded him to go with the DIY toddler “loft” bed option instead. (Levi looooooves it, by the way. Incidentally, so does Judah.)

Since the race car bed is off the table for now, Ryan came up with another way to “build” a car for Levi. I thought this cardboard box creation was a wonderfully adorable alternative. (And way cheaper too!)

CARS - Lightning McQueen costume from a cardboard box.

Materials needed for a DIY Lightning McQueen costume: large cardboard box, glue, paint, some aluminum foil, a sharpie, strips of fabric scraps (for straps to hold the box over the child’s shoulders), a willing DIYer, and a picture of Lightning to look at while you draw.

Now Levi can often be seen wearing this box and running around cones in the yard (his “wace track”) yelling vroooooom, vrooooom, vrooooooom!

And truthfully, Ryan’s usually not far behind.

See? Both boys happy. Very, very happy.

Dear friends, do your husbands go crazy over animated movies as much as mine does? And how about cardboard boxes – is your family as in love them them as we are??! (Remember the DIY reading cubby made from a dishwasher box? Another big hit with the littles.)

About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • Ana
    30 October 2012 at 8:52 am

    That is awesome!!! I think if we didn’t have so much rain, the boys would be all over that. Good job! And, oh my gosh, YES! My hubs and animated films and the boys. He has been looking into getting them some old school cartoons that he grew up watching because, “I loved them so much, and I know they will too!” It’s fun to watch them all piled on the sofa together watching a show 🙂
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  • bernardeena
    30 October 2012 at 8:08 pm

    That is fantastic! My boys adore Cars and would be over the moon with that!
    bernardeena recently posted..A special giftMy Profile

  • Laura G
    3 November 2012 at 10:11 am

    I love it! I have to admit that I’m the animated films addict in our house, mostly because Jeremy didn’t really grow up with cartoons or much TV. I love watching some of the older classics with G – “The Aristocats”, “Alice in Wonderland”, and “Peter Pan.” We do a movie night now every Saturday, where we take turns picking a family movie to watch together. It’s so awesome to see her enjoy some of my favorites.

    • Adriel Booker
      4 November 2012 at 5:04 pm

      I must admit… I was VERY excited to introduce Levi to Mary Poppins!!! 😉

      We are finally to the age with Levi where we do movie nights every few weeks. LOVE IT. I;m sure ours will become weekly eventually too. It’s so much fun to snuggle up together and watch something fun and wholesome.
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