How to Throw a Kentucky Derby Party
Expert Advice

Image: Deposit Photos, amarosy

Whether you’re into horse racing or not, the Kentucky Derby usually calls for a get-together with mint juleps and big fancy hats – in other words, a party!  If you won’t be one of the thousands attending the live race in Louisville, it’s still a fun day to celebrate with friends and throw a Kentucky Derby party at home. There’s no one way to host your own festivities for the big day, but here are a few tips that will help ensure your shindig is fun and on-theme! And, if you’re interested in placing a wager on the race, that can make the day even more fun.

Decorate to the Nines: Roses & Bright Colors

Roses are a traditional part of any Kentucky Derby party. You can incorporate roses into centerpiece decorations or have them freshly cut in various vases. Want to get really creative? Place a couple of roses into the traditional silver julep cups for a classy touch. Incorporating a brightly colored tablecloth and napkins are also great additions to your space and match your favorite jockey.

Themed Dress Code

Encourage your guests to get a little fancy! Most Kentucky Derby outfits include plenty of pastel colors and spring dresses. (Think: Easter Sunday meets the Hamptons.) And don’t forget the hats. Wearing a hat to the Kentucky Derby is believed to bring good luck! The fashion tradition was steered by women, but lately more men have taken to it and started donning bowlers and fedoras.

Make your Menu Southern-Style

Use the occasion to celebrate southern cuisine, from appetizers to dessert. Kentucky Hot Brown sandwiches are just about as popular as the Derby itself. They pile turkey, roasted tomatoes, cheesy mornay sauce, bacon, and more cheese on top of a thick slice of Texas toast. They’re warm, satisfying, and packed with flavor!

Classic Cocktails

Obviously, you can serve whatever drinks you prefer; however, if you want to stay on brand, stick to the traditional mint julep. What better brings together two of Kentucky’s most well-known industries: horse racing and bourbon! If you plan to cater to a bigger group, try pre-mixing a large batch ahead of time and have it available in a dispenser for guests to pour their own. You can also add some fresh fruit and herbs to make flavored juleps, like a strawberry basil julep, for example.

Tunes for Trotting

The week leading up to the Kentucky Derby is typically filled with concerts throughout Louisville featuring a myriad of genres and artists. The height of excitement occurs just minutes before the big race, as over a hundred thousand attendees sing a rendition of My Old Kentucky Home, which is Kentucky’s state song. Recreate your own form of musical backdrop by adding a few Kentucky-born artists or Kentucky-related songs to your playlist and jam out for your Kentucky Derby party.