Run for the Roses: DIY Kentucky Derby Centerpiece

On Saturday, May 6 the horses will take to the track to run for the roses in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. What other mainstream sporting event promotes dressing in seersucker, floral prints, big hats, bow ties, and sipping on delicious fresh cocktails? This is the perfect occasion for having over some friends, watching the race, and enjoying the Spring weather.

I've teamed up with Meghan of Elva M Design Studio to bring you all kinds of fun Kentucky Derby Party ideas. This post breaks down how to create your own "Run for the Roses" centerpiece. Use it for a festive table or have a full-fledged dinner party! Be sure to visit this post to check out the full details of the party including inspiration for decor, food, drinks, and free party printables!

What You Need

  • Wood Box or Container 

  • Floral Styrofoam ($1 at Dollar Tree)

  • Faux Rose Bunches ($1 per bunch at Dollar Tree)

  • Wire Cutter/Floral Cutting Tool

  • Plastic Horses ($1 each at Dollar Tree)

  • Gold Spray Paint 

  • Small Horseshoe 

Start by choosing a base container. I used a unfinished rectangular wood box that my husband made years ago in shop class. We found it when we were doing a little Spring cleaning and he was going to toss it. I saw its potential and with a little stain, it was like new again! If you aren't inclined to make your own container, you can pick up something similar at a number of craft or home stores.  

After I'd stained the wood box, I spray painted 3 different plastic horses I picked up at Dollar Tree. I used some scrap pieces of wood to prop them up, making it easy to get underneath them when spray painting. It also helped avoid any pooling of the spray paint as they dried. It took two coats to get them fully covered.


To arrange the roses, I placed 1 1/2 rectangular pieces of green floral styrofoam to fit the length of the wood box. It did not fit the full width of the box, but that worked out fine. Once I knew I had enough foam to fit the length of the box, I began cutting the roses off of the bunches using a wire cutter and placed them into the styrofoam until both pieces were completely filled in. I also cut the green leaves separately and placed those in throughout the arrangement. The green foam can be a little messy, so I recommend putting newspaper or wax paper down while you are working. It makes for an easier clean-up. 


Once that was done, I put the floral into the box and then used the remaining roses to fill in around the rest of the box until it was completely filled out.

Remember those spray painted horses? Place one (or more if you like) in the midst of your roses to give it a little height! 

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I also found the perfect little horseshoe at an antique shop on a recent weekend trip to the North shore of Lake Superior. I temporarily attached it to the box, as I wanted to use it again for future decor. No horseshoes laying around? Print one out on cardstock and attach with tape.


Meghan also had some fun grass mats she snagged at Michaels for Easter decor, so we added those to the table and placed a horse in each of those. We both love when you can reuse items in a new way! I can't wait to unveil the whole party!