Unwrapping the secrets of the holiday gift that keeps on growing in size and popularity

By Rick Press, Dec 13, 2017


Article Quick Takes:

  • Lexus puts a bow on holiday car sales
  • A mother’s wish becomes a King-Size business
  • We’re gonna need a bigger bow for planes, tanks

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–in 2016, the luxury carmaker sold 41,182 vehicles, 10,000 more than its second highest month (August). The ads are also credited with helping transform December from one of the slowest times of year for auto sales to one of the most vibrant, replete with holiday closeout sales and Black Friday specials.
  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. King Size Bows was born in her home in Costa Mesa, Calif. Dealers bought most of the bows at first, but in 2003, Lexus came calling and after appearing in the December to Remember campaign, King’s bow business boomed.
  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 gave each of them a Pontiac G6 with a King Size Bow on top. Since then, giant bows have made nearly as many TV appearances as Oprah, popping up on daytimers like Ellen and Steve Harvey, game shows such as America’s Got Talent, The Price is Right, and Let’s Make a Deal, and prime-time hits like Modern Family, Empire, Bones and many more. Watch for a King Size Bow on an upcoming holiday episode of The Mayor. The big bows even earned a spoof on a Saturday Night Live. In a mock ad, Seth Meyers gets a brand new SUV from his wife (Amy Poehler), but he turns his nose up at it because there’s no oversized bow on top.
  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.” Car Bow Store is a division of MBR Marketing, which sells supply items to the automotive industry, and its bows range from a 22-incher for $30.95 to a 36-inch velvet bow for $99.95. The company doesn’t supply Lexus with bows, but Rudolph said his team’s handiwork has been seen on Good Morning America, Nickelodeon, and at Hyundai and Kia dealerships throughout the U.S. and Canada. They also sell a lot of bows to individuals. “We sell them every day of the year,” he said. “Graduation. Birthdays. You name it.”
  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 King Size’s other bow-nanzas. The company, which was bought by Jan Kingaard and her daughter, Amber Hughes, in 2015, has made bows for planes, trains, buildings, billboards, even a tank. The company recently completed a 22-foot bow for a new building, and Hughes said it took a week and a half to make and cost $3,000. King Size regularly builds enormous bows for charitable causes and military homecomings, Hughes said, and they’ve even gotten requests for bows to wrap people. “It’s fun,” she said. “Everybody we work with is celebrating something. There’s never a bad day in the bow business.”
  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 began running its 2017 December to Remember ads in early November. All three TV spots feature a euphoric child dancing around a Lexus, King Size Bow perched on top. Then a key fob beeps, and we see it’s actually an adult letting out their “inner child” (can you blame them?), and we’re reminded of where this whole bow explosion started. Whether you call it crass commercialism, marketing genius, or childlike fantasy come to life, Lexus launched a bona fide holiday tradition with its big bow ads. And, yes, Virginia, people do give cars as gifts, according to Rudolph, who adds: “We frequently hear from our customers that the recipients are more excited about the bow than the car itself!”

And, that’s a wrap.


Ever think about who has to make those giant bows you see in commercials and in new car showrooms? They’re the specialty of a company in California. They supply the trademark bows you see in Lexus commercials, but they’ve produced the festive knots for a dozen other manufacturers, too.

Holiday sales are a vital part of the profitability of automobile manufacturers. The most visible push automakers put on occurs from roughly the Thanksgiving holiday through Presidents Day in February. Almost every automaker’s and dealership’s marketing plan falls back heavily on one image: Their newest models with a huge red holiday bow on top. As it turns out, those holiday bows have an interesting backstory.

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King Size Bows, Inc. — the Lexus “December to Remember” bow makers — make every day one to celebrate with new bows, new sizes and new fun ways revelers within all budgets can brighten their gifts and events all year around.

The bow business is a unique one, and one would be hard-pressed to find someone who knows it better than King Size Bows. For nearly two decades, the California-based business has been spreading joy daily with their American-made creations. Sizes range from two to 19 loops and 4 inches to 20 feet in size, while prices can be $9.99 to hundreds of dollars.

The company’s in-stock and custom bows can dress up anything from toys, beverages, jewelry and gift cards, to homes, cars, floats, appliances and tablets, to tractors, boats and bridges.

“Our clients go way beyond bows on the tree, mantle and front door one time a year,” said Amber Kingaard Hughes, president of King Size Bows. “They’re truly ‘bowdacious.’”

Top 10 things to do with a bow this year:

  1. If you like it, put a bow on it. Romantics planning to pop the question can do it with pizzazz. Rings and other small jewelry boxes can be featured prominently or secretly tucked away in a special red or pink bow designed for the special occasion.
  2. Transform customary events. King Size Bows’ exclusive bow tie was inspired by a Hollywood producer who wanted black bow tie decorations for a birthday extravaganza. The classic design can be used to add a masculine or formal feel at New Year’s parties, fundraising events, homecoming and prom.
  3. Wrap up business – or a business. Realtors use the lustrous bows to surprise clients at close of escrow. Businesses can celebrate a grand opening or create an inviting workplace with seasonal bows on doors, windows, displays, signage and reception desks. College advancement departments acknowledge alumni gifts with a big bow.
  4. Add a touch of elegance. Brides and grooms can dress up their wedding with classic bows for the pews, bridal party gifts, bouquets and fun props at the photo booth.
  5. Solve the hard-to-wrap problem. Parents who give bicycles, scooters, skateboards and motorized toddler vehicles to their kids this holiday can skip the wrapping paper by simply adding a fun bow instead. When the holidays are over, the bows can be disassembled and packed away for the future.
  6. Honor life. A newborn can be nestled in the center of a custom creation as the new arrival poses for his or her announcement photo. Subtle bows can dignify anniversary party and memorial displays.
  7. Encourage smiles. Mini bows can be used as props for holiday card photos or be worn to adorn an ugly Christmas sweater. A favorite for pet pictures and selfies, imaginative bows are also seen at Halloween and in Fourth of July parades on bicycles and wagons.
  8. Display cheerful symbols. Hospitals, libraries, schools and community centers use King Size Bows to spread holiday spirit throughout lobbies, rooms and hallways. The durable décor can be used many times.
  9. Show you care. “Welcome Home” is a gladly received greeting for a new home owner, military member or a student from college. Whether returning from a business trip, service abroad or the hospital, young and old recipients alike appreciate the universal gesture of well-wishing.
  10. Celebrate every day. For Blue Star Families, cancer survivors and warriors for various causes, each day is savored. Awareness loops are specially created for businesses, community groups, government and individuals to show their support or draw attention to issues. The newest additions to King Size Bows’ offerings include a Patriot line in red/white/blue, military colors and camouflage for all service branches, Thin Blue Line for law enforcement, and Blue Ribbon school awards.

“The possibilities are as endless as the imagination,” Kingaard Hughes said. “Our design team enjoys working with clients to add a special wow to their experience, product or business. If it’s a bow, we can make it in practically any color and a variety of materials.”

In addition to the car dealership displays, ribbon cuttings and television commercials, King Size Bows’ bows have been featured in the 2015 Consumer Reports Gift Guide, Ellen DeGeneres’ “Biggest Giveaway Ever,” and “The Price is Right” baby shower show. Their large red bows will also be featured on the holiday finale of a leading series (no spoilers

King Size Bows, Inc. is a woman-owned and run, made-in-America business. The 15-year-old design studio creates custom and in-stock bows for individuals, auto manufacturers and dealerships, theme parks, TV and movie prop houses, retailers and malls, developers and realtors, as well as health care providers and support groups, the military, law enforcement and educational institutions


Graduation Day is a day to celebrate with family, friends and classmates. It is the start of new beginnings. What better way to commemorate a big achievement than a big, King Size Bow? Top off any size gift with a Signature In-Stock bow, available in 7 color combinations t0 accentuate any cap and gown or party décor. We ship by FedEx Monday through Friday, so order now: 714.668.9688





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