Christmas Parade Themes

Updated October 25, 2019
Waving Santa Claus on carnival-float

Fun and exciting themes for your Christmas parade will increase everyone's level of enjoyment. From holiday characters to floats with brilliant light shows, you're sure to find a theme just right for your group.

Holiday Parade Ideas

Whether you are putting together a parade for the entire community or just your daycare playgroup, it helps to have a few thematic ideas. This will give the parade entrants a jumping point for their own ideas and provide a cohesive look to the entire Christmas holiday event.

Christmas Characters

Plan a parade around beloved holiday characters. Traditional figures, like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph and gingerbread men may all end up in the parade together. Alternatively, characters may be contemporary figures that are dressed for the holiday, like the famous television and movie characters in the Disney World Christmas Parade.

Prince Charming and Cinderella on parade float

Light Show

You can create a parade light show by planning in advance. Plan floats with synchronized light shows to awe and inspire everyone attending the parade. Choose specific themes for each float and incorporate various types of lights. You can have a range of simple to complex shows complete with music.

Father Christmas

While today's Santa dons a red suit with a big belly, the Father Christmas figures from around the world and across the centuries are more diverse. Have each parade entry depict a different look for Father Christmas, based on their imagination or historical fact.

Super Heroes Celebrate Christmas

You can make every child happy when you create a super hero Christmas parade. Imagine the surprise and excitement of children and adults when they see their favorite super hero decorating a Christmas tree, helping elves place gifts underneath the tree or simply walking along the parade path waving at everyone.

Family of Superheroes

Christmas in Toyland

Create a parade around toys. You can have characters from the actual 1961 movie, Babes in Toyland, or use generic types of toys along with other well-known Disney toy characters. This type of theme provides endless opportunities to create any kind of toy character you wish.

Zoo Animal Christmas

Catch everyone off guard with all types of animals in costume. You can have a bear only float with bears preparing for Christmas. Gear up a group dressed in gorilla costumes on roller blades performing in front of the floats. A float with funny crazy Christmas monkeys wreaking havoc wrapping presents may provide laughter for everyone.

Nursery Rhyme Christmas

Watch the kids' surprise when their favorite nursery rhyme characters in a parade. You can include Bo Peep, Little Jack Horner, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Humpty Dumpty, etc., each dressed in a holiday version of their nursery rhyme costume and doing different Christmas activities on a float such as decorating a Christmas tree.

Nursery Rhyme Christmas Float

Lights of Fairyland Christmas

Fairies always capture the imagination and Christmas is a great time to let all the fairies come out to celebrate. You can have all kinds of creative costumes with wings and wands. You can havecreate fairy themed floats, such as forest fairies, pirate fairies, dark fairies, crystal fairies, food fairies, etc. Be sure that you have tons of fairy lights and various Christmas lights to convey the magic of the fairy realm.

Gingerbread House Christmas

You can use gingerbread houses on floats making each one unique. You may use various gingerbread house themes, such as a beach or surfer's gingerbread house, pirate's gingerbread house, underwater gingerbread house, banker's gingerbread house, and other types of houses. You can also have gingerbread men and women on floats and also walking/dancing/skipping as well as lollipops and peppermint candy costumes.

Largest Gingerbread House

Everyone Is Santa

This is a fun parade theme where everyone wears a Santa costume. Your floats can be various themes with Santas populating them. Make sure you include lots of Christmas lights, such as strings wrapper around a sleigh, Santa's workshop, and other ways. String flashing lights along the float and add a few candy striped poles at the corners and midway and string lights between them for a truly festive float decoration.

Band playing in Christmas parade

Christmas Around the World

Put a sign-up sheet out with various countries listed. Each parade entrant needs to pick one country to celebrate using a float, dance or marching entry. Another way to plan a Christmas around the world parade is to choose just one country and see how each group interprets:

  • Christmas traditions in Italy: Italians focus on the Presepio, detailed nativity scenes that are often live and traveling musicians, Zampognari.
  • Christmas traditions in the Netherlands: The Netherlands have two distinct Christmas traditions known as Sinterklaas Avond celebrations.
  • Korean Christmas traditions: South Korean Christmas celebrations encompass more than a religious meaning to include non-Christians.
  • Mexican Christmas traditions: Mexico's strong Catholic culture embraces Christmas with extensive celebrations.
  • How the French celebrate Christmas: France's strong Catholic roots are the basis for festivities and celebrations.
  • German Christmas traditions: German traditions are the main source for many modern Christmas celebrations and practices.
  • Chinese Christmas traditions: China's Buddhist roots dominant the culture but recognize a commercialized form of Christmas "Sheng Dan Jieh" (Holy Birth Festival).

North Pole Fantasy

Have you ever wondered what the North Pole would be like? Kids of all ages like to imagine what goes on the night before Christmas. Entries may depict the reindeer in their barn, Santa in his workshop or elves asleep after their work is finished. This fantasy theme is perfect for a lighted parade.

Children in elf costumes

Christmas Past and Present

Christmas celebrations started when the first Pilgrims landed on the United States soil. Consider making your parade theme about Christmas celebrations throughout U.S. history. Eras to include are:

  • A 17th century Christmas
  • Wild West Christmas
  • Civil War-era Christmas
  • Victorian Christmas traditions
  • Jazz and flapper-era Christmas
  • World War I and II-era Christmas
  • Swinging '60s Christmas
  • Retro rockin' Christmas, like the 1980s

More Christmas Parade Themes

Possibilities for Christmas parade themes are almost endless. Even just the colors of red and green are perfect for a Christmas parade. Religious groups may want to focus on particular people or animals from the Biblical story, while zeroing in on a verse as the specific theme.More parade theme ideas for Christmas include:

Woman wearing Reindeer antlers On Her Head
  • Christmas stories: Each parade entrant picks their favorite book or film to portray on a float.
  • Green Christmas: Parade entrants highlight eco-friendly Christmas ideas.
  • Parade of trees: Floats need to depict different and outrageous Christmas tree decorating ideas.
  • Winter wonderland: Snow and more snow is the main message of this theme.
  • Holiday sports: Skiing, ice skating, sledding, snowboarding, hiking and snowmobiling are all perfect subjects for this parade theme.
  • Biker Christmas: Area motorcycle clubs may relish the idea of getting their bikes decked out in the spirit of Christmas.
Motorcycles of Santa Claus
  • Forest friends: Penguins, polar bears and moose all brave the chilly weather, so feature them in a Christmas parade.
  • Christmas candies: Floats that show taffy-pulling, bands dressed as candy canes and marchers handing out popcorn balls are all great ideas for a candy-themed parade.
  • Musical madness: Require each parade entry to have some sort of musical aspect, whether it is a live person playing a Christmas carol on their trumpet or a float with 20 Elvis impersonators lip-synching the classic tune Blue Christmas.
  • Trains, planes and more automobiles: You can use all or some of these vehicles to create a fun parade. Create floats using various vehicles for inspiration. You may even find a few car collectors who'd like to drive their vintage treasures in your parade.
  • Snowglobe parade: You can feature large snow globe like floats with various Christmas scenes with characters inside. You'll want to have a few snow machines working and several bubble machines to get everyone involved and excited about your themed floats. You can also use white confetti to give the snow globe effect.
  • Space and beyond: Base your parade around the revived space program, journeying back to the moon, building a base on the moon and colonizing Mars. There are all kinds of space travel related themes you can use for individual floats. All celebrating Christmas in their own way. Astronauts and aliens can join in the holiday celebration.

Creative Ideas for Christmas Parade Themes

To come up with more parade themes than the ones listed here, brainstorm with your club or committee several months before the parade theme needs to be chosen. If you can't come up with any ideas within your group, put a notice in the paper that you are accepting ideas for the parade theme. The public may send in ideas that may be perfect for the next Christmas parade.

Christmas Parade Themes