Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

Saturday, May 4 will mark the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby!  Are you as excited as I am?  I watch the Triple Crown every year to see if we will have another winner and how the horses I have favored fair.  What would be more fun than throwing a Kentucky Derby party and really getting into the festivities?  I’ve got some ideas to help.


Run for the Roses Party

First thing you will need are invitations.  Let’s face it…the invitation will set the mood for the party so it has to be perfect!  I love this one from Wanessa Carolina.  It’s simple, classy, and will get anyone excited for the Derby!


Now, it’s time to plan and decorate for the party!  Here’s where the fun really begins.  Everything is so well coordinated these days that it will be a cinch to pull together your Run for the Roses party.

Table Decorations

Here are two options.  You have to have roses for your centerpieces and I adore the model horse touches.  If you are truly horse lover, I’m sure you have some of these lying around.  Drape one with roses or even saddle cloths!  The possibilities are endless and have fun with it!



Aside from these being Saddlebred models, this could be really cute decorations, not to mention the banner is printable.  So easy and so cute!




Want to see more pics from the party?  Click here!

Let’s not forget the fun printables!  So many to choose from and with a little creativity they could be the perfect touches for your party.

kentucky-derby-free-printables kentucky-derby-printables-4x6signskentucky-derby-printables-flags-menuskentucky-derby-printables-Food-Topperskentucky-derby-printables-horse-jocky-silhouttess-drink-tagskentucky-derby-printables-Horses-Redkentucky-derby-printables-Junior-Mintskentucky-derby-printables-large-horses-tan-trophieskentucky-derby-printables-Paper-Bandskentucky-derby-printables-Scroll-Bannerskentucky-derby-printables-Scroll-Banners-2kentucky-derby-printables-Tent-Cards-Filledkentucky-derby-printables-coasters2kentucky-derby-printables-flags-menus2kentucky-derby-printables-horse-jocky-silhouttess-drink-tags2kentucky-derby-printables-large-horses-trophies

Here’s the info you need:


The stars of the centerpiece were 3 toy horses that I painted with black chalkboard craft paint and decorated with colored ribbons. Glue dots were used to secure the ribbons and the red paper rose on the “winning” horse. The horses were displayed on upside down wood vases embellished that were embellished with paper printables and surrounded with different sizes of DIY paper roses made using this tutorial. I glued wooden dowels between two “Run for the Roses” scroll banners (from the paper printables) to make a 2-sided sign for the middle wood vase. You can use 3D/pop-up glue dots or hot glue to secure the dowel rods to the vase.

Table Runner
A 12″ wide strip of unbleached muslin fabric was used for the table runner. It was torn from a larger piece of fabric to create the unfinished edge. (This kind of fabric rips in a straight line very easily after starting the tear off with one small snip!) Red, green, blue, and gold ribbons were used on top of the runner for a racing stripes look.

Place Settings:
Everyday white plates and neutral napkins with an unfinished edge were dressed up with acrylic gold charger plates, chalkboard place card signs, printable horse & jockey silhouettes. and DIY “napkin rings” made from ribbon.

To make the napkin rings, simple cut equal lengths of red, blue, and green satin ribbon + a thinner gold ribbon. The ribbon pieces should be slightly longer than the width of your folded napkin. Lay one color of each satin ribbon upside down and slightly overlap the layers achieve a striped look. Secure the 3 pieces together with a few inches of scotch tape in the middle. Flip the secured ribbons over and glue the thinner gold ribbon on top. Snip the edges of each ribbon at different angles and lengths.

The chalkboard place card signs pictured here were purchased at Michaels and embellished with printable horse & jockey silhouettes, which were cut out by hand. This is actually much easier to do that it may sound – the white border that you leave around the image is actually quite “forgiving” and doesn’t need to be perfect! Use glue dots or hot glue to secure the silhouettes to the sticks.

I ran into an issue with chalk being barely legible on these chalkboard signs, but loved the look of them and wanted to include them. As a solution, I ended up printing the guest names out on my home computer with the font in white on a black background. I loosely (and quickly) cut each name out by hand – again leaving plenty of the black background as a “border” around the name – then glued the names to the chalkboard signs. The black border helped them “blend into” the chalkboard background. I actually love how this turned out – it allows you to keep the chalkboard look but also incorporate festive, fancy fonts for a rustic-elegant feel, and you don’t have to worry about your handwriting this way!

Wine glasses were embellished with printable drink charms that are numbered 1-9 and also double as glass “markers”. Mason jars were utilized as rustic water glasses and embellished with red burlap, twine, and a DIY drink flag made from a bamboo skewer + printable flags. These embellished mason jars could also be used for signature drinks like Infield Punch or Mint Juleps. I also made Derby themed drink coasters from the printables + 4″ round cork board packs purchased at Michaels. ($1.29 for a set of 4)

The chairs were tied with burlap garland (purchased in a roll at Michaels) and simple DIY ribbon wands that each guest could remove to wave during the race. The same colors of ribbon used throughout the table – red, green, blue, and gold – were tied to wooden dowels to create the wands


Appetizers and Mini Desserts are great in lieu of – or in addition to – a sit down meal at Derby celebrations. You can find tons of Kentucky Derby inspired recipes at Here are a few of our own favorite EASY recipes and “derby food” styling ideas:

Winner’s Circle Derby Pies
Sonny baked individual sized Derby Pies in muffin tins and embellished them with baker’s twine. These look super cute and very TASTY!

Winner’s Circle Quiche
Use store-bought quiche (like we did here) or make your own. Cut into bite-sized triangles and arrange in rows.

Stacked Benedictine Sandwiches
This spread was made popular at Louisville’s Benedict’s restaurant earlier in this century. We used circle cutters to cut our sandwiches into rounds and play on the ‘winner’s circle” idea. Stacks of 2 mini sandwiches were embellished with mini food toppers from the party printable.

Shrimp Dip Devine
Another easy recipe idea that can be whipped up in no time and served with veggies, crackers, or crusty bread. Get the recipe here:

Run for the Roses Cupcakes
Your favorite flavor of cupcakes + pre-made Royal Icing Red Roses by Wilton (available both online and in the baking aisle at Michaels). Doesn’t get much easier than that! 🙂

Mint Julep Cupcakes
I seriously love how these Mint Julep Cupcakes taste! (Recipe link: We’ve made them for the past few years and usually we garnish them with mint leaves and straws, but tried something more simple and understated this time: crushed pistachios. In addition to the green color of the pistachios, they give off a nice vintage-rustic vibe. These cupcakes would also look cute garnished with mini horse shoes or the printable food toppers!

Individual Crudites
Veggies and dip are a great addition to any food table. They also add a nice pop of color! Up the creativity factor by serving them in inexpensive glass votives embellished with patterned paper. I cut strips from the argyle pattern included in the free printables to decorate these votives.

Junior Mint Julep Jars
As a fun plan on words tiny (“junior size) jars were filled with Junior Mints and placed next to a sign reading “Junior MINT JULEP Jars”. These jars were purchased in a pack of 24 at Michaels (in the wedding favors aisle) and are already embellished with the canvas lids and baker’s twine. We swapped out the baker’s twine with green ribbon to add a pop of “mint leaf” green. You can print out the “Mint Julep” sign for free right here.


R-U-N for the Roses Centerpiece
This festive centerpiece is super easy to create!

You’ll need:
–  3 wooden cube containers
– chalkboard letters spelling RUN (these are available at Michaels)
– 1 package of moss
– wooden dowels
– 3 bricks of floral foam
– hot glue
– “for the roses” printable scroll banner

Optional Embellishments:
– 6 small paper roses
– baker’s twine
– red burlap
– printable horse & jockey silhouettes

Fill each vase with floral foam. You’ll need to cut the bricks to size and insert a few pieces until you have a snug fit. Cover the foam with moss. Hot glue 2 wooden dowels to the back of each letter and let dry. Insert one letter into each wood container. Embellish vases with a strip of red burlap (or other red paper/fabric), baker’s twine, and a hand-cut horse & jockey silhouette. Place a paper rose at each point where the wooden dowels and moss meet. Print & cut the “for the roses” printable scroll banner. Place the banner at the end of the word “RUN” – you can simply attach it to the right edge of the last wood vase, or hot glue it to a wooden dowel and insert it into a mason jar filled with roses like we did here!

*Special thanks to Hostess with the Mostess


2 comments for “Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

  1. Jane Miller
    February 26, 2018 at 12:55 PM

    Would like to order items for derby horse centerpieces. What do I need to do to make that Happen? Thanks for your help Jane Miller

    • February 28, 2018 at 10:57 AM

      Hi Jane! There are instructions at the bottom of the post on how the centerpieces were made as well as some links to printables. Visit for further information on these ideas. Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *