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All you need are these 4 items to decorate your new graduate’s car

The big day has finally arrived! After 12 years of school (not counting pre-K), your teen is finally graduating. One of the best ways to mark the occasion is to surprise your graduate by decorating his or her car. And to put your mind at ease as you wonder how to decorate a car for graduation without damaging its exterior, we’ve collected a list of must-have supplies to stock up on and some ideas for making your teen’s car stand out in a parade or caravan.

Teens celebrating in graduation robes
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What can I use to decorate my car for graduation?

If you’re thinking about how to decorate a car for graduation, you’ll find plenty of ideas to celebrate this important milestone — and incorporate your own sense of style. About any type of decoration can be attached to a vehicle without dinging the chassis or damaging the paint. Here are some ideas:


Streamers, for instance, can be safely adhered using masking tape. Or you can simply tie them on parts that have adequate space, like the rearview mirrors for instance.


Also, you can create signs on poster board or butcher paper. Although they might be tricky to attach with masking tape, this is still a great option for your graduate’s car to stand out. If you don’t want to make a sign, or you’re not feeling too confident about writing on the window, you can order a magnet from a printing service with your graduate’s name on it and “congratulations.”

Window paint

You might remember the days of using white shoe polish to write a silly or sentimental message on car windows. Fortunately, you have other options. Today, you can find car-friendly paint or marker that washes off easily. However, you should refrain from applying paint or liquid chalk on the body itself.


Don’t forget the balloons. Your best choice for graduation decorations that stand out is the bright, foil balloon type. They often also have the year or a special message that’s fit for the occasion printed on them. To really step up the decorating game, you can mix the bouquet with latex balloons in the school’s colors. Plus, some varieties have a decorative design on them as well.

How can I decorate my car without damaging it?

Luckily, there are many graduation decorating options that are easy to scrub off and won’t damage the vehicle. These include:

  • magnetic banners
  • window decals
  • washable window paint
  • window chalk

Most often, you can find these items at a local party supplies store or online. Likewise, if you’re still opting for do-it-yourself decorations, these materials won’t scratch, dent, discolor, or chip:

  • magnetic tape
  • wire twist ties for securing decorations that wind around the vehicle or bumper (remember to tuck the ends under to where they don’t come contact with the tires)
  • feather boas and garland

Additionally, knowing what to avoid also preserves your graduate’s car’s exterior. So, you’ll need to steer clear of extremely adhesive tape similar to duct tape. The glue from the tape tends to stick on the car’s surface which is hard to wash off and might damage the paint. Also, stay away from silly string because its ingredients have the same impact as “egging” the vehicle. Ultimately, it damages the paint if left on too long.

What can you use to decorate a car?

In addition to the aforementioned ideas, you can use balloons that are shaped like graduation caps and have a special message. Also, you find graduation-themed garlands and banners made from material that damage the car. Another option is to order a graduation car decorating kit that has every necessary item included such as a banner, ribbon, and balloons.

How do I decorate my car for the car parade?

Prior to decorating, your first, and most crucial step is to wash the car thoroughly. Any dirt or dust left over would prevent masking tape and any other adhesive from graduation decorations from staying on the surface. If you’re going to draw or write on the windows, you might consider completing that step before mounting any banners onto the side of the vehicle. This gives the paint or liquid chalk some time to dry without smearing. Plus, if you use masking tape, then applying it to the bottom of the window would guarantee that it stays put. However, if you use magnetic tape or a magnetic banner, then the order of these steps wouldn’t matter. Likewise, should you decide to take an easier option and order a kit, then, of course, you’ll follow the enclosed instructions.

With this short guide on how to decorate a car for graduation, you’ll be able to complete the task in little time and less trial-and-error. The morning of your teen’s big day will be filled with excitement and a lot of emotion, not to mention many other preparations for your family’s celebration. So, you can now cross off one less concern and go about enjoying the rest of the day.

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Leslie Anderson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Leslie Anderson is a freelance writer/writing coach from Roswell, N.M. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and helping students…
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