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What to do With Award Ribbons: 5 Ways to Repurpose Rosettes

Briefly, while I was hustling to earn money during graduate school, I started buying bank award ribbons from a local horse show rosette manufacturer and selling them online.  It was a fun little side-gig that was easy to manage from the tiny downtown apartment I lived in at the time, and I ended up with hundreds of extra ribbons I’d use to decorate parties and customize to celebrate friend’s special accomplishments.

While I’ve since moved on from that project, it gave me the opportunity to play with ways to use, repurpose, and decorate with horse show ribbons.

Pre-printed horse show ribbons or plain blank award ribbons can be individually customized in so many ways to create the perfect prize, prop, or décor! I found my ribbon manufacturer back in 2007-2010, when I hosted a series of horse shows. Afterward, I realized I had over-ordered horse show ribbons and had LOTS of extra horse show ribbons leftover.

displaying award ribbons.

With all this excess, I began to explore the many non-horse show related uses for award ribbons. Given that ribbons are much cheaper than trophies, are elegantly complementary to floral arrangements, and blend easily with traditional home decor already inspired by British-equestrian elements, there are many ways in which I found award ribbons to be both handy and beautiful home decor elements. Read on for a few of my favorite uses.

1. Wedding and formal event decorations

ribbons displayed on the back of chairs at a dinner

image source

Barn weddings are in style and here to stay. Whether your wedding or event is hosted in a rustic stable, event barn, or a more traditional banquet hall, award ribbons are a beautiful
non-floral way to elegantly decorate for your event. Reminiscent of the classic elegance of vintage equestrian style, there are many ways to integrate horse show ribbons into the decor for your wedding.

Award rosettes can be elegantly tucked into the boughs of flowers, added to pew flower arrangements, and are especially popular as chair-back decorations. Unprinted horse show ribbons can be custom made in your wedding’s colors or color combinations, And if you purchase a few dozen directly from a manufacturer, you can get embossed lettering with your name, monogram, or wedding date (for smaller quantities, you can even make your own personalized horse show ribbons). Horse show ribbons make especially elegant additions to rusting weddings, weddings that include horses, or any wedding with a classic style informed by British-American traditional style.

Ribbons are perfect as a cheap filler for floral arrangements during winter weddings when flowers are the most expensive and difficult to source sustainably. Rosettes can be hot-glued to dowel rods or skewers and inserted directly into the floral foam of an arrangement. Not hosting a wedding? Consider using them as décor to turn heads at your next Kentucky Derby Party.

ribbon on a chair


2. Marketing Materials

ribbons on a table near honey.
(Photo credit: )

Customers shop visually, and a first-place ribbon decorating your trade fair booth, market booth, or product mock-up can draw customers and investors in a way that words and logos can’t. Purchase blue first place ribbons to communicate visually the superiority of your product or business.

This can be especially helpful for demonstrating in a visual way the non-physical awards your product or business has won (for instance, when the award is too heavy or expensive to display at events away from your home office).

3. Red Horse Show Ribbons as Christmas Decorations

Christmas presents wrapped with homemade horse gift wrap.

Red ribbons have long been a signature of holiday décor, and red rosettes add a charmingly elegant equestrian look to the traditional tartan plaids and deep green hues of Christmas trees and evergreen boughs. Consider adding red rosettes to Christmas trees or garland for a dramatic flair that’s unique and easier to style (and store from year to year!) than red ribbon bows.

Make your own horse head wreath and add a ribbon!

horse show ribbon on a christmas wreath.
Make your own horse head wreath and add a red rosette for holiday flair and equestrian authenticity

4. Stage Props.

Many times people purchasing blank award ribbons are purchasing for stage productions or outfitting a specific location that requires the use of an award rosette, either as decoration in a room or as a prize to be given to a winner in a competition. Horse show ribbons are particularly well-suited for this purpose, because they can be blank or unprinted.

5. Single awards for your club, competition, or race

When you are managing a small show or competition, purchasing ribbons can be frustrating. 

Handing out awards is often the highlight of a competition. Create dramatic and photo-worthy award ceremonies by using the built-in metal hangers on horse show ribbons and a safety pin (which can be added to clothing during or before the award ceremony.)

While import-grade award ribbons lack this easy-pin feature, real horse show ribbons have a thin metal bar on the back that’s designed to be easily bent- originally designed to allow the ribbon to be securely placed on a bridle, harness, or reins. 

How to pin a rosette
How to pin a rosette

6. Ribbons for parties, retirement gifts, and gag gifts

black rosette

Make your own personalized award using our blank award ribbons and a vinyl cutting machine. We love this technique so much we created an entire tutorial just for this technique. You can purchase blank ribbons and then use a variety of methods – including foil transfer, adhesive vinyl letters cut out with a cricit or silhouette cutting machine, or even paint pens – to create custom awards for just about anyone or anything. You can add names to your ribbon, placing, or add text celebrating a milestone such as a retirement or mere non-traditional achievements like just getting out of bed and adulting your way through 2020…


7. Classroom Incentives

Hanging award ribbons.

It can be difficult to find non-food behavior incentives that are creative and fun. Stickers and small toys make great awards but can become less exciting with time when used consistently as a reward. Horse show rosettes are exciting and dramatic and promote enthusiasm, cooperation, and academic achievement in your classroom. Blank or personalized ribbons work best for holder kids, but younger children may work towards a simple recycled used horse show ribbon. 

7. Equestrian Décor

ribbons displayed in a bedroom.
image source unknown- contact for credit

Rosettes are classic elements in an equestrian-themed room or home. If you’re letting your horse-crazy daughter dream up a new bedroom, ribbons may be a perfect decorative element- they look great framed, loose in gallery wall arrangements, in shadow boxes, or on bulletin boards. She may dream of earning her own ribbons someday- in the meantime choose the perfect colors and order blank unprinted rosettes to keep the style simple.

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