10 Little-Known Facts About Giant Car Bows
Unwrapping the secrets of the holiday gift that keeps on growing in size and popularity
Santa’s got his sleigh. Rudolph his red nose. And Lexus its giant car bows.
Every year, these hallmarks of the holiday season float into our lives, wrapped in red velvet and good cheer, and we herald their arrival with songs, stop-action TV specials and elaborate ad campaigns.
But if the stories of Santa and Rudolph are stitched into our stockings—and the fabric of the holiday season—the genesis of the giant car bow is a bit more elusive. So we enlisted a few automotive elves to help us unfurl 10 little-known facts about giant car bows.
1. Lexus' unforgettable ad campaign
In 1998, the luxury carmaker debuted the big bows as part of its “December to Remember” commercials, and no matter how implausible it seemed to get a $35,000 Lexus as a gift, the pure whimsy of loopy red bows plopped on top of car roofs captivated viewers. December has since become the best sales month for Lexus—
2. Big bows for showrooms and beyond
Lexus provides a few bows to each showroom, but to the surprise of some buyers they’re not included with the purchase of the car. (Handmade fabric bows can cost $600; high gloss paper or PVC bows start around $40.) Some Lexus dealers let buyers borrow the bows for the big reveal, and include that in negotiations. But as the popularity of car bows blossomed, dealerships beyond Lexus began using them in their holiday showrooms, and car buyers who wanted to keep the bows created even more demand.
3. The queen of King Size Bows
In 2000, Lynda King decided she wanted to surprise her daughter with her dream car, a VW Beetle, with a giant bow on top. But she couldn’t find a bow big enough, so she made one herself. After seeing her daughter’s reaction, it sparked a business idea.
4. You get a bow, and you get a bow!
In 2004, Oprah Winfrey famously made 276 of her audience members’ “wildest dreams” come true, when she
The 30-inch red velvet bow from Car Bow Store sells for $52.95. (Photo courtesy of Car Bow Store)
5. Rudolph the big bow maker
If Lynda King assumed the throne as the west coast queen of big bows, Michael Rudolph might well be the east coast godfather. His Car Bow Store sells nearly 25,000 bows per year, and is the leading manufacturer in the U.S. “It’s frantic right now,” Rudolph said from his Warminster, Pa., facility in late November. “About 75 to 80 percent of our business is this time of year. It’s mostly car dealerships that want them, and they wait till the last minute,” he said. “The Lexus commercials come out and everybody wants a bow.”
6. Planes, trains, automobiles and tanks
Giving someone a new car with a big bow on top seems like the grandest of gestures—until you hear about some of
Jan Kingaard and Amber Hughes, co-owners of King Size Bows. (Photo courtesy of King Size Bows)
7. Big bows = silver lining
Ironically, Hughes got into the joy biz after a near-fatal car accident left her with severe facial injuries and no voice. She had to quit her job as a 911 dispatcher – “my voice was my livelihood” – and her mother, hoping to lift her spirits, suggested they buy King Size Bows from her friend, Lynda King. “My mom knew I had to find a new career path,” says Hughes, who recovered her voice after extensive speech therapy. “I’m very grateful,” said Hughes. “I definitely had angels on my side.”
8. Magnets and suction cups, oh my
How do you get a giant bow to stay in place? In the beginning, most manufacturers used magnets but the trend in recent years has been suction cups as auto manufacturers have shifted toward aluminum hoods and body panels, said Car Bow Store’s Rudolph. "The suction cup is the ideal choice for securing a car bow since it is effective with steel, aluminum and fiberglass hoods and is softer and more scratch-resistant than a magnetic base."
9. Big bows, the DIY edition
Google “big car bows on Pinterest” and you’ll get nearly 18 million results. So while Car Bow Store and King Size Bows are the big kahunas in the market, plenty of people are taking to social media and YouTube to share their DIY secrets. If that’s a bit too ambitious for you, big bows are also available at Party City, Amazon and Michael’s for $10-$60.
10. Still dancing in December
Lexus traditionally begins running its
And, that’s a wrap.
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