Y’all. I can’t even. He is the cutest train conductor in the history of ever. This cardboard box train costume is even better than our cardboard box tractor costume we made for Halloween last year! When Elmer’s asked me if I’d like to team up with them for a holiday post I was stocked.
Elmer’s brand is my jam and a staple in Casa de Dorobek. Elmer’s makes such a wide array of products I was having trouble narrowing it down to just one project. The Polar Express book is a year round favorite in these parts, and after the tractor excitement, I thought it would be really fun to make Max the conductor of his very own Polar Express train!
Here’s what you need to make a cardboard box train
(Psst… This list includes affiliate links!)
- Large cardboard box/ diaper box works great
- Small cardboard box
- Plastic cup
- Pillow batting/ for the smoke stack
- 1 Sturdy paper plate
- Extra cardboard for the wheels or black plastic plates
- Black spray paint
- Gold Spray paint
- Silver paint pen
- Hot glue gun
- Glue sticks (The long ones are my favorite!)
- X-ACTO knife
- Cutting board
- Vinyl sticky letters
- Kitchen bowl/ to use as a stencil for the wheels
- A reusable bag/ to cut the straps off
- Conductor hat
How to make a cardboard box train costume
Turn any cardboard box into magical train that takes kids to the North Pole!
Step 1- Cut holes in the box
First, use the XACTO knife to cut a square in the bottom of your diaper box. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just make sure that your kiddo can fit inside of the box.
Step 2- Cut wheels
Next, use the kitchen bowl to trace 6 circles out of flat pieces of cardboard. These will get spray painted black and be train wheels. I used the XACTO knife and a kitchen cutting board to cut these out.
Step 3- Hot glue train
Now, it’s time to form the train. Heat up the hot glue gun and get ready for business. Here’s the basic train set up. I’ve made a few trains over the years and I really like how I did the train wheels on this cardboard box train.
Step 4- Create the smoke stack
The picture above does not show how to make the smoke stack. This is probably my son’s favorite part, so don’t skip it! I have an inkling your kiddo will love it too. Before you hot glue the plastic cup to the front end of the cardboard box, poke a small hole in the top of the cup with the XACTO knife, then fill the cup with batting or cotton balls. Now get the glue gun ready!
Step 5- Spray paint
Once you get the train hot glued together, it’s time for the paint job. I started by spray painting the side of the box gold since I knew I wanted the words “Polar Express” to be gold and I had black letters on hand. Basically, I used the vinyl letters as stencils. Worked like a charm and fun to know that you can make the letters any color you want very easily. Just let the gold spray paint dry and then apply the vinyl letters and spray paint another color on top. Then just peel the letters off and voila!
Step 6- Add details
The last step is to add the silver details with the paint pen. Then dress the little conductor up, and the Polar Express is ready to pull out of the station! Choo choo!
Maxwell was in heaven when I told him we could take his train car and walk down the tracks!
Decorating train cars would be such a fun activity to do with a group of kids at a Christmas party. Can you image the cuteness if you had 10 train cars all lined up?
Thank you, Elmer’s, for making our cardboard box train costume dreams come true! For more cardboard box costume ideas, don’t miss