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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Summer Drive-In Party

Picture an outdoor party on a warm summer evening. All the kids are occupied with a project, chattering enthusiastically amidst a flurry of markers and colored paper. And then the magic hour approaches. At sunset, they “drive” their art projects to the driveway right in front of the garage, where a white sheet hangs taut. Popcorn and other snacks are handed out while the projector whirs to life and a movie begins. You sit back, relax, and enjoy the evening with a cool glass of your favorite locally made beverage.

This is the beauty of the summer drive-in party. That art project the kids are working on so furiously? A cardboard car fit for pint-sized moviegoers. Here are step-by-step directions for making one.


  • 1 cardboard box big enough for your tyke to sit in and small enough to see out of
  • 6 large binder clips
  • 1 (8” x 5.5”) manila envelope
  • Scissors
  • Markers (red, black, blue)
  • 1 sheet white paper
  • 1 piece of red construction paper
  • Glue or tape
  • 2 red paper plates
  • 2 yellow paper plates
  • 3 sheets of blue construction paper
  • 1 set of fuzzy dice or similar
  • 1 white paper plate
  • 1 empty tissue box (a small vertical one works best)
  • Optional blanket


  1. Use binder clips to hold down three of the box’s flaps. Place the clips in the middle of the flaps. The fourth free flap will serve as the windshield, so it should be oriented toward what you want to be the front end of the car.
  2. Make the license plate with frame by cutting a rectangle window out of the front of the manila envelope. Leave about an inch for a border. Make up a license plate number and write it with blue marker on the white construction paper, leaving room in the right-hand corner for a registration sticker. If you know cursive, write “California” above the numbers. Slip the paper into the envelope. The numbers of the license plate should appear through the opening you have cut out of the envelope. Next cut a small rectangle out of red construction paper. Write “2016” in black marker. This is the registration sticker. Glue or tape it to the upper right hand corner of the license plate. Once assembled, glue or tape onto the center of whichever side of the box will serve as the backend of the car.
  3. To make taillights, tape or glue two red paper plates on either side of the license plate.
  4. Prop up the front of the box using clips on each side of the front flap.
  5. To make headlights, tape or glue two yellow paper plates onto either side of the front of the box.
  6. To make windshield and wipers, draw two black lines at the bottom on two pieces of pale blue construction paper. Clip one piece of the paper to the inside of the propped-up front flap of the box. Then clip the second piece of paper to the outside of the front flap.
  7. Hang fuzzy dice from the clip used to affix the paper windshield.
  8. Create a steering wheel by taping or gluing a white paper plate to the center of the inside front of the box. You can use a marker to decorate the wheel, as I have, but wait until the ink dries before affixing the wheel to the box.
  9. To make side mirrors, cut the empty tissue box into two identical halves and the remaining piece of pale blue paper into two rectangles. Tape paper over the empty sides of the two halves of the box. Use tape to affix each light to the binder clips on either side of the front flap.
  10. Optional: To make the car both mobile and comfy for the movie, take out the bottom cardboard flaps and park it on a folded up blanket.

Projectors Near You


  • Encore AV
  • Shutterbug Camera Shops

Rohnert Park

  • Big 4 Party

Santa Rosa

  • ATL Events
  • Rent A Projector
  • Rent a Projector Now
  • Rental Projectors
  • Rentech Solutions
  • Shutterbug Camera Shops

Jean Flint is Sonoma Family Life’s web and social media manager. She asks that you not judge her for the photo it was the biggest box we had at the time.