When DERBY DAY comes around, we are all from KENTUCKY! If you can’t watch the race in Millionaire’s Row on the Churchill Downs track, then hosting a Kentucky Derby themed party is the next best thing. While the Derby is rooted deep in Southern tradition, we put a creative spin on the classic Kentucky Derby celebration. Our stylish and sophisticated party featured a signature cocktail, equestrian and Southern-themed decorations and a Southern-inspired menu.
The Kentucky Derby is an annual event, rich in both history and tradition since 1875.
- Millionaire’s Row is the place to spot the rich and famous- Ted Cruz made an appearance this year
- For those less concerned about actually watching the races, the infield is the place to party
- Mint juleps are the official drink of the race and are often served in ice-frosted silver cups
- Roses are the official flower of the Kentucky Derby
- Since 1921, Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home” plays when horses parade in front of the grandstands
- The Governor of Kentucky awards the trophy to the winner and a garland of red roses is draped over the winning horse
We selected a SLEEK red, white, blue and yellow color palette for our Derby party. We always recommend adding flowers, which can be as simple as a $10 arrangement from a grocery store or a single flower in bud vases. These decorative pieces can go a long way in terms of setting the scene. Since the Derby is also known as “Run for the Roses,” we suggest adding a bouquet of fresh roses. You can also create your own roses from red tissue paper. Olga from International Garden created our beautiful centerpiece of red roses, green ball flowers and a sophisticated silhouette of a Southern belle. Kanchana and Joanna even transformed the bases of the wine glasses into Southern Belle “derby hats” and Dapper Gentlemen “bow ties.” We also scattered gold-painted toy horses on the table and printed Hostess With The Mostess’ adorable Derby themed party signs.
We feasted on a Southern inspired menu featuring: fried chicken and biscuits, pickled okra and pimento-cheese and popcorn. We added some whimsy to the menu with pesto bow tie pasta and a Derby cheese hat from brie and boursin cheese. For dessert, we dined on gourmet chocolates, pecan pie with ice cream and a blueberry tart.
It wouldn’t be a Kentucky Derby party without MINT JULEPS! Since juleps may not be for everyone, we also served red, white and sparkling wine. Make a few big-batch cocktails before guests arrive, then assign them witty names in honor of the race. Other concoctions perfect for the Derby include:
Attire is key to a Derby party. Our stylish Southern Belles looked beautiful in their festive hats and fascinators. Gentlemen looked dapper with their bow-ties and fedoras. Did you know that wearing a hat to the Kentucky Derby originated from the idea that wearing a hat brings good luck? This tradition has grown enormously and some hats at the Derby are HUGE!
If you need entertainment during the Derby, consider playing the following games:
- Best Dressed Southern Gentlemen/Southern Belle
- Best Derby Hat/Fascinator
We had a blast celebrating the Derby in NYC. So for next year, remember to dust off your sear sucker pants, floppy hats, southern charm and be ready to cheer on the field of 20 horses for the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports.”
“This Kentucky Derby, whatever it is—a race, an emotion, a turbulence, an explosion—is one of the most beautiful and violent and satisfying things I have ever experienced.”—John Steinbeck