How To Throw A Winning Derby Party

When you’re from the South—and most especially living as close to Kentucky as we do here in Clarksville—the Kentucky Derby is an event not to be forgotten. From the fantastic hats to the sophisticated parties and fun family picnics, the Run for the Roses has something for everyone…And even if you couldn’t name one of the horses in the running to save your life, who says you can’t participate in all of the festivities surrounding this globally recognized race? Don your best hat, mix up some mint juleps, and get ready for that trumpet to blow!

Throwing the perfect Kentucky Derby party can be easy as pie, and we’ve got a few great ideas to help you out:

Run With Your Roses

In a nod to the Kentucky Derby’s nickname, Run for the Roses, create a décor based on this classic flower. Try filling traditional silver julep cups with red roses for small-scale arrangements or use brightly colored tablecloths and napkins that are inspired by the bright colors of the jockeys’ uniforms.

Dress to Impress

To set the tone even more, encourage your guests to adhere to the proper attire by wearing bowties, hats, colorful dresses, and seersucker suits. Whether you choose to coordinate your outfit around your hat or have your hat custom-designed to match your outfit, Heaven knows that hats are essential to dressing for

Derby day success—no matter which horse you might be betting on!

For all the lovely ladies, we suggest sundresses or silk blouses and skirts in bright colors with classic patterns and feminine details such as florals, polka dots, and ruffles. We all need accessories, and LeezaD has the perfect Derby-inspired pieces to complete your look. “LeezaD offers a variety of styles in Derby jewelry including earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. From dainty and elegant to bold and eloquent, many of the Derby-inspired creations are one-of-a-kind, and several have been designed around unique vintage features,” says founder, owner, and jewelry goddess Marlene Dade. “As you dress, it’s important to remember that your hat and jewelry should not compete, but rather complement each other. The more classic the silhouette of your dress, the more bold you can be with your hat and necklace.”

Men will take the win in the traditional attire of sport coats paired with plain white button-down shirts and grey or khaki trousers, brightly colored ties, and saddle shoes or brown-and-white spectators.

Let the Games Begin

Get everyone’s competitive juices flowing with some Kentucky Derby Party Games. Hold a Derby Hat Contest and offer a prize for the best hat! We suggest a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie or a bottle of bourbon to take home and savor their victory in true Kentucky style. Horse around with a Game of Luck and have each guest draw a horse’s name out of a hat to cheer for during the race. Award the guest with the winning horse with a prize worthy of the win! Women will swoon over Jockey Silk Scarves…And for the guys? Tie up their victory with an Off to the Races Bow Tie from Vineyard Vines, The Official Style of the Kentucky Derby. For some kid-friendly fun, set up a game of horseshoes in the yard or have your little jockeys bring stick horses for their very own Run for the Roses!

Sweet, Sweet Victory

Every guest at the party should feel like they’ve had a sweet win for the day, and Derby-inspired edible favors and prizes are sure to do the trick. Try your hand at making Bourbon Balls that your guests can take home or have Southern Flour Bakery make custom Derby cookies for your party.

Set Out a Winning Spread

Keep your party guests sippin’ the South by setting up a drink station complete with iced tea, lemonade, and—of course—Lavender Mint Juleps. Sweeten the deal with a sweets table loaded with Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, Mini Chocolate Pecan Cakes with Vanilla Bourbon Smash Ice Cream, Bourbon Peach Pie Pops, Brown Sugar and Brown Butter Pecans, and Derby Cupcakes. Like horses, we all need more than sugar (and sugar cubes) to keep us in the running, so serve up some Southern Cheese Grits, Baby Hot Browns, Benedictine Tea Sandwiches, and Kentucky Hot Brown Sliders. Your guests will marvel at your ingenuity and your dedication to keeping to the theme—and that’s definitely worthy of winning you your very own wreath as the hostess with the mostess.