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Kentucky Derby Decorations Celebrate Run for the Roses

May is full of special events and holidays. When I think of May, the first thing that comes to mind is the Kentucky Derby. In case you are planning a Kentucky Derby party, here are some fabulous Kentucky Derby decorations that celebrate the Run for the Roses.

I never realized how many celebrations occur in May until now. It may have more reasons to celebrate than any other month. From beginning to end, May is a “party-all-month-long” month.

This year is especially full with both the Kentucky Derby and Mother’s Day on the same weekend. I remember 2005 when we celebrated our older daughter’s engagement, our second Kentucky Derby party, and Mother’s Day on one weekend.

Today is Celebrate the Holiday Blog Hop and our participants are filling the hop with a wide variety of May celebrations. You will have plenty of inspiration for several special occasions.

My contribution is a celebration of the “most exciting 2 minutes in sports” – the perfect reason to throw a party.

Celebrate the Holiday May Events

If this is the first time you have visited Celebrate the Holiday Blog Hop, every month we focus on an upcoming holiday.

If you are joining me from Leslie of Feet Under My Table, I know you loved her ideas for May flowers.

In preparing for May’s holiday, I now realize how many celebrations there are in May.

  • May Day – May 1
  • Mother’s Day – first Sunday in May
  • Cinco de Mayo – May 5
  • Kentucky Derby – first Saturday in May
  • high school and college graduations
  • Memorial Day
  • have to include my older granddaughter’s birthday. She turns 12 on the 17th.

So, in this month’s blog hop, you will see various celebratory ideas. The list of participants is at the end of the post.

Celebrate the Run for the Roses with these Kentucky Derby Decorations

Every other year, Sweet Shark and I host a large (35 – 50 guests) Kentucky Derby party. It’s something that our friends look forward to every other year. Our first party was in 2003 and our last party was in 2022.

This party takes a lot of planning. We don’t have to set a date (It’s always the first Saturday in May.), but I do send out an invitation via Paperless Post with all the particulars.

Our schedule doesn’t change much from year to year. If you would like to host a Kentucky Derby party, you can follow our lead. After 10+ parties, we have become pros at throwing this event.

Party preparations kick into high gear in mid-April. Although I don’t start cooking until the week of the party, I do try to get all our decorations completed the week before the party.

Our decorations begin at the front door and continue throughout the rest of the house and into the backyard.

Here is our most recent Kentucky Derby decoration: a beautiful horse head door hanger.

Kentucky Derby horse head door hanger

That includes setting our dining table and breakfast room table with Kentucky Derby decorations. Since no Kentucky Derby tablescape is complete without red roses, you can imagine that the classic Derby flower is the focal point of our tables.

Our Kentucky Derby party always starts with Mint Juleps and appetizers before the race. For the past three parties, I have also served a light buffet dinner after the race.

I set as many places for guests to sit as possible, using our dining room table and breakfast room table. Fortunately, I can set those tables up before the party.

We set up a couple of tables outside the morning of the party. The weather last year was perfect for outdoor visiting and dining.

Over the years, I’ve shared some Fun Kentucky Derby ideas, but here are more. Let’s actually start at the front door.

Front Door Kentucky Derby Wreath

For this wreath, I bought a boxwood wreath several weeks before the party and decorated it for spring with pink azalea blossoms, tulips, and hydrangeas and topped it with a sage green ribbon. Nothing was glued on so the flowers and ribbon were easy to remove.

I also bought 2 large bouquets of red roses and cut off the roses with clippers. Then I just stuck the stems into the boxwood wreath and made a bow with black and white stripe ribbon. It took me about 20 minutes from start to finish.

Our guests will know that this is party central.

Entry Decorations

Using printables from Melissa at Polka Dot Chair, I made a banner for our entry mirror. I printed the “Run for the Roses” on full-sheet shipping labels. Then I cut out each section, attached them to red cardstock, and cut around them.

Kentucky Derby banner pieces

I attached a black plaid ribbon to make a loop and then red grosgrain ribbon to make the banner. Then I used one of my favorite craft supplies, 3M thick double-sided mounting tape, to attach the banners to the mirror.

Red roses from Sam’s filled a champagne bucket – my version of a trophy.  Then I tied a bow with more plaid ribbon. A stuffed Derby horse stands by the “trophy”.

Kentucky Derby entry decorations

TIP: place a glass or plastic container of water with your flowers inside your silver buckets so you don’t get yucky flower water in the bucket.

Using more printables from Polka Dot Chair, I made these WIN-PLACE-SHOW decorations.

Kentucky Derby party ideas

Dining Room Kentucky Derby Tablescape

I used another silver wine bucket filled with red roses and baby’s breath as the centerpiece.

Kentucky Derby roses

I found these red woven placemats at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $1.99 so I bought 8 new ones. Red and white plaid ribbon ties up napkins.

Kentucky Derby place setting

Each guest gets a glass from one of the Triple Crown races that Sweet Shark’s parents collected over the years. We have also bought back glasses from our trips to the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and The Belmont.

I had a bolt of red net ribbon on hand so I made a bow around each chair for color.

In the past few years, we’ve bought 4 Mint Julep cups – 2 in Savannah and 2 at an antique show in Atlanta and I had them engraved with our monogram. We hope to add more in the future.

Kentucky Derby dining table decorations

The silver brings a nice bit of shine to the table as well as the little horse “confetti” strewn about the table.

Kentucky Derby decorations

Race Horse Living Room Mantel

Several years ago, I found this old wooden horse at a flea market in Waco – I think it was called the Junkie Monkey.

I painted it black and nailed it to a board for stability. Then I made a red roses blanket just like the Derby winner gets.

I also made a “Derby Day” banner. It was so cute I used it again last year. I covered the wooden board with green moss to look like grass.

Kentucky Derby mantel decorations

Breakfast Room Kentucky Derby Tablescape

Since we have a round table (40 inches) in the breakfast room, we put a portable 48-inch round tabletop made by Samsonite that I’ve had for years (it folds in half for storage) on top. This way we can sit 6 people.

I place a round white tablecloth on top and use red napkins with black plaid ribbon to tie them.

Kentucky Derby breakfast table decorations

Another silver wine bottle container is filled with more red roses (can’t have enough) for the centerpiece. More horse “confetti” and printables fill the table as well as more Derby glasses.

Kentucky Derby rose decorations

We will use our large kitchen island for the appetizers before the race and as the buffet area after the race. Then I’ll bring out the desserts.

If you would like more Kentucky Derby Party Ideas, I have a bunch for you to share and PIN.

As always, I’ll make Pimento Cheese, Pan-Fried Onion Dip, and Jalapeño Cornbread Salad while Sweet Shark makes his famous Smoked Salmon and Dipping Sauce.

We order Honey-Baked Ham and Chicken Tenders. If the Kentucky Derby falls on Cinco de Mayo, I also make guacamole.

Here is Sweet Shark’s Mint Julep recipe and my Southern Pimento Cheese Recipe.

Decorating Essentials for Your Kentucky Derby Party

I hope these ideas give you inspiration for your own party. PIN this post so you have the party decorations at your fingertips.

Even if you don’t have a Kentucky Derby party, be sure to watch the race. May your horse win.

And now, please visit my fellow Celebrate the Holiday bloggers. Start with my friend Renae of Peacock Ridge Farm and her delicious tea cakes for Mother’s Day.

pin for later graphic in blue
Kentucky Derby decorations
blog signature
May Celebrate the Holiday Blog Hop graphic
Kentucky Derby centerpiece
Mother's Day cupcakes
May Day baskets
May Day flower basket
cheese and jalapeno appetizer
Mother's Day flower arrangement
graduation day cap
May perennial flowers


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  1. Was looking for TRIPLE CROWN RACES decour, Not just Derby which is all you show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Hi Linda, quite honestly that’s because people aren’t searching for Preakness or Belmont party ideas. You can certainly reuse any “racehorse” decorations for those races. I would Google or check out Pinterest for those races. I’ve been to both. I remember that the Preakness’s drink is the Black-Eyed Susan and the colors were black and yellow. Good luck.

  2. Your Derby decorations are over the top! You have such fun ideas for entertaining!

  3. I’ve always wanted to have a Kentucky Derby party and wear fabulous hats. With all of these cute, creative ideas now I REALLY want to! I adore all of the rose, horse, and silver decor touches. Already pinned!!

  4. Are you sure you are not a Kentucky girl?! I love all of your ideas! Don’t forget to add Kentucky Hot Browns to the menu! Thank you for hosting all of the May inspiration!!

    1. Haha, no, but I wouldn’t mind it. Kentucky is so beautiful and we loved our trip to the Derby and to Keeneland and Versailles. I don’t know that I’ve ever had Kentucky Hot Browns, but I will check them out for KD 2024. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. HI Carol, What a fun holiday tour. I forgot all about May Day! I love your Derby wreath and the silver buckets! Thank you for coordinating! Happy Day!

  6. This Kentucky Derby theme made me smile the whole way through. The little stuffed pony made me chuckle, too, Carol! Love the colors and the elegance of the roses! So glad you joined us at Homestyle Gathering!

  7. HI Carol,
    OMG so pretty! Those roses and vases! Love! We are hosting a Cinco de Mayo party tomorrow night. Happy Friday! laura