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Kentucky Derby Party: Run for the Roses Centerpiece Ideas

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kentucky derby party centerpiece ideas

Red roses play a huge part in the Kentucky Derby, which has been aptly dubbed as the “Run for the Roses” due to the gorgeous garland of more than 400 red roses and bouquet of 60 long-stemmed red roses presented to the winning horse/jockey duo.

So… it goes without saying that roses are a great place to start when it comes to decorating for Kentucky Derby parties too! Here are a few quick, easy, & budget-friendly centerpiece ideas to get you started. (The felt 1, 2, & 3 numbers are representative of “win, place, & show”, but they also make it easy to differentiate below!)

To keep things even more affordable, purchase roses in bulk at discount shops like flower supply stores or even Costco. Scroll down for the detailed “how to” info on all 3 designs…

kentucky derby party centerpiece ideas

CENTERPIECE #1: Winner’s Circle (or “square”!)

You’ll need:
shallow square vase
roses (approx 16-20 for an 8×8 vase)
floral foam wet (one brick)
artificial grass or grass-like craft paper
red satin ribbon
felt number (optional)
horseshoe brad (optional; purchased at a scrapbook store)

Cut the floral foam brick in half lengthwise and use it to line the entire bottom of the vase. Trim to fit as needed, then add water until the foam is saturated. Cut a square of “grass” that is about 2-3″ smaller in diameter than the vase, and place it on top of the foam, centered.

Trim rose stems to about 1.5″ long, then create a rose border all the way around the vase by inserting them into the foam. The rose buds should partially overlap the “grass” to help hide the edges.

Set a toy horse on top of the grass. Adorn the horse with a red ribbon & themed embellishment – like the horseshoe brad pictured here. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you can also create a rose garland for the horse (instead of the red sash) by hot glueing lots of mini craft roses onto green satin ribbon.

Optional: Decorate the vase with a band of red satin ribbon and a felt number “1” or other derby-appropriate embellishment.

Resources: Toy horse, “grass” paper, & floral foam all purchased at Michaels. Roses, ribbon & vase from Wholesale Flowers in San Diego. Felt numbers from Joann.

kentucky derby party centerpiece ideas


CENTERPIECE #2: Julep Roses

You’ll need:
silver julep cup vase (plastic or silver plated)
red roses
red ribbon
felt number (optional)

Remove all leaves from the roses and trim the stems so that the rose buds sit just above the rim of the vase, creating a tight bunch or “crown”. Decorate the vase with a band of red satin ribbon and felt number or other derby-appropriate embellishment.

Tips: purchase plastic silver julep vases individually or in bulk


CENTERPIECE #3: Rose Bed Cube

You’ll need:
square “cube” vase
red roses
floral foam wet (one brick)
red satin ribbon
felt number (optional)

Trim the foam brick to fit within the vase, then add water until the foam is fully saturated. Next, trim the rose stems so that the base of the bud sits just below the rim of the vase. Insert 3-4 rows of roses, depending on the size of your rose buds and/or vase. Finally, decorate the vase with ribbon and a felt number or other derby-themed embellishment, and you’re done!

kentucky derby party centerpiece ideas


Opting for the more casual route for your Derby party? Stay tuned for some INFIELD-themed party ideas tomorrow!

By |2016-12-25T10:05:49-07:00April 27th, 2009|Kentucky Derby, Party Decor Projects, Theme Parties|

About the Author:

Jennifer Sbranti is the founder of Hostess with the Mostess®, a creative living and party planning resource established in 2006. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Sonny, and daughters Macy (8) and Rylie (6). Sbranti’s work has been featured in media outlets such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, Real Simple, People, InStyle Weddings, and Extra! TV. She has designed creative content and unique live events for several well-respected brands, including Mattel, Coca-Cola, The Hershey Company, Toys”R”Us, Pottery Barn Kids, and Starbucks.


  1. [email protected] At Home April 28, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Jenn, these are so cute. I love the one with the “grass.” Thanks!


  2. EMTsweeetie April 28, 2009 at 7:27 am

    These are ssoo adroable! The red roses are so elegant but go so well with theme! Great job!

  3. Tiffany April 28, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I’m going to make some of these this weekend for sure – thanks for the ideas!

  4. Five O'Clock Somewhere April 29, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Great ideas! I love having a Kentucky Derby Party every year, and I am always looking for new ways to decorate for it. Thanks!

  5. Sheryl April 30, 2009 at 4:15 am

    Only one thing WRONG!!! The little “Lucky” horseshoe is up-side-down! The LUCK will run out!!! Get it???

  6. jenn s. April 30, 2009 at 4:58 am

    You’re so right, Sheryl – thanks!! Can’t believe I missed that before! Photoshop to the rescue…the “luck” is right-side-up now! ;)

  7. pagingqueenmum May 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    My birthday is May 1st and I alway throw amazing parties for my daughter, but this year I threw one for myself, a 1930’s theme…I have now have the theme for next year’s party. Also I was at Dollar Tree ( a dollar store they have here in Milwaukee) on Saturday and they had plastic horses for…yep a dollar:)

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  9. Donna January 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

    what is on the shallow vase? Is that black craft paper? Thanks

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