Celebrations, Southern Life, Sustainable Living

Kentucky Derby Decor with Recycled Horse Show Ribbons

Kentucky Derby Decor with Recycled Horse Show Ribbons

Anybody else a big fan of the Kentucky Derby? Growing up as a horse-obsessed little girl, I watched it every year. Though I never raced horses myself, being immersed in the equestrian world taught me a lot about racing terminology,  strategy, and culture. Once I met Wes, we quickly realized we had found our joint favorite “holiday.” I love horses and a good party theme (hello, giant hats), and he loves mint juleps and seersucker. A Southern match made in heaven! We try to have a party to celebrate the run for the roses each year.

Kentucky Derby Party Decor Using Recycled Horse Show Ribbons | Fairly Southern

The photos in this post are from last year’s party. The decor was our best yet! And, it was super inexpensive…we found ways to use stuff we already had, including my old horseback riding ribbons.

If you are an equestrian or former equestrian or know someone who is/was, then you’ve got access to the perfect horse-themed decoration! Decorating with old horse show ribbons is a great idea on many levels. First, it is eco-friendly, because you are repurposing something you already have versus buying something new. It’s also the least expensive option possible: free! And, it’s a great way to put your hard-earned ribbons on display again. Mine were just sitting in my closet, unseen and unused. I didn’t want to toss them in a dumpster, but it seemed silly for them to take up space with no purpose, too. It makes me feel glad to see them admired again!

Kentucky Derby Party Decor Using Recycled Horse Show Ribbons | Fairly Southern

I displayed my ribbons in the simplest way possible: I stuck tape to the back, then stuck them on the wall/mantle/wherever else looked like it could use some festive decor.

Obviously, the statement piece in our Kentucky Derby party decor was our large chalkboard. We decorated it with the race lineup, complete with horse names, post positions, jockey silks, odds, jockeys, and trainers. This was the most time-consuming piece, but it made a huge bang for very little buck. We already had the chalkboard on our wall, obviously, but you could also draw something similar on a large poster board. I bought a pack of colored chalk, printed and cut out the shapes of jockey silks, traced them on the wall, then colored them in using the chalk. I am the least artistic person ever, so I think this would be doable for just about anybody! You just have to take your time.

Kentucky Derby Party Decor Using Recycled Horse Show Ribbons | Fairly Southern

And of course, no Derby party would be complete without red roses.  We bought a bunch and put them out on our table with the betting slips. To make the slips, we printed out strips of white paper with lines for guests to write down their picks for win, place, and show, with different point values assigned to each. We also had a “best dressed” voting station to encourage our friends to go all out with their wide-brimmed hats and Easter egg-colored pants. The roses doubled as a lovely prize for the winner of the betting to take home!

Kentucky Derby Party Decor - Red Roses | Fairly Southern

Will you be watching the Derby this year? Got any great ideas for Derby-themed decor? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo Laura

P.S. – I was not compensated for this post in any way.  All opinions are my own! This post does contain referral links, which means that if you click on a link and purchase a product, I may receive compensation.


  1. How fun! When I met my husband , his family loved to watch horse raving and it was new to me. In Baltimore, we have Pimlico races for the horses and I have even gone to bet. We usually watch Kentuck Derby as a family tradition. Big hats at home and all! I loved reading your post.

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