The “most exciting two minutes in sports” makes for a colorful and festive party theme. Equestrian style is huge right now which makes finding fun decorations easy. I co-hosted a Kentucky Derby luncheon last year with friends and our biggest challenge was deciding what decor ideas not to use.
The Kentucky Derby is known as ‘The Run for the Roses’ because of the blanket of red roses draped over the winning horse. Incorporating roses into your decor for this party is simple and makes an elegant statement. We picked up several bouquets at a warehouse club (Costco or Sam’s) and used them as the main centerpieces like the picture below. We borrowed horse show ribbons from a couple of friends whose kids compete. You can also buy show ribbons on ebay from sellers like this one.
If you can borrow a vintage trophy cup or find one at a flea market, it’s a perfect prop for this party. Or if you are willing to splurge a little, you can buy an authentic looking option here. For the 2nd look below, go to your closet and pull out a pair of tall black boots. Fill them with roses and you’ve got instant “wow” factor.
Traditional Kentucky Derby fare includes southern flavors and plenty of bourbon. There are lots of fabulous options to choose from, but below are my top 4 “must serve” items for your Derby menu.
I tend to get caught up in the food and decor but there is actually a race going on! Set up fun wagers by printing this list of the contenders for each guest. You can make this complex by taking win, place and show wagers but we took the easy route and had each person choose the winner only.
Because the race is short, you’ll want to have a few activities planned like a game of backyard horse shoes or a best hat contest (as you likely already know, big hats are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby). Or do what we did and make hats as one of your activities. We bought basic straw hats from a hobby store along with supplies like feathers, ribbons and faux flowers and had plenty of glue guns on hand. This also eliminated guests feeling stressed that they needed to go out and buy a hat before the party.
For a party favor, fill a mint julep cup with Junior Mints and tie it off with a rose. You can buy mint julep cups here.
Now you’re off to the races . . .