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Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

Updated on January 24, 2012
Entertain your family and friend with a fabulous Kentucky Derby Party.
Entertain your family and friend with a fabulous Kentucky Derby Party. | Source

The Kentucky Derby also known as “The Run for the Roses”, is held in beautiful Churchill Downs located in Louisville Kentucky. The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby draws a crowd that would rival the Super Bowl or World Series. It is one of the most popular events in the sports world. Tickets are difficult to come by and can be very expensive. If you can’t work a trip to the Kentucky into your budget, bring the Derby to you and your friends at home. A Kentucky Derby party is fun regardless if you are fan of horse racing or not.

Kentucky Derby Party Invitations

Make your own invitations -- using old horse racing forms, paper covered in red roses or download pictures of the Derby and print them out as invitations.

Ask guests to arrive appropriately dressed, as if they were attending a party at Churchill Downs.

You may want to ask the invitees to each bring a dish or dessert reminiscent of Kentucky.

Kentucky Derby Party Decorating

Cover tables with silk-like material in bright colors to symbolize the jockeys.

Hang numbers representing the numbers on the horses.

Lots of red roses -- real or faux – in vases everywhere. If you can’t afford red roses, make tissue paper roses – dozens and dozens of roses.

Hang horseshoes and red streamers.

If you own a horse or have a friend who does, use the tack as decorations.

Red napkins or brightly colored napkins made of a silk-like material.

Disposable red plates, fork, knives and spoons.

Disposable silver colored cups.

Kentucky Derby Party Attire

Top hats for the men.

Wide-brimmed, extravagant hats for the women.

If you want to take it a step further – request the men to wear tails and the women to come in gowns or ask your guests to wear racing silks.

Kentucky Derby Party Food

Anything BBQ – burgers, ribs or chicken.

More traditional foods including Kentucky Hot Brown, Thoroughbred Pie, Burgoo or Andouille Sausage with Black Eyed Peas are all appropriate to serve.

Serve sides including cornbread or Shrimp and Grits with Red Eye Gravy.

For dessert serve Mint Julep cupcakes, Red Velvet Cake or Pecan Pie.

Party drinks – A Kentucky Derby Party NEEDS Mint Juleps. You can also serve anything with Kentucky Bourbon such as Jack and Coke or Jack and Ginger. For those who don’t drink, make home brewed southern sweet tea.

Mint Julep Recipe

Place six or seven mint leaves in the bottom of your silver cup and crush them lightly.

Add 1 ounce of Kentucky Bourbon

Fill the cup with ice

Add 1 ounce of Kentucky Bourbon

Add ½ ounce sugar syrup

Stir and serve with a spring or two of mint.

Kentucky Derby Party Games

Write the names of the horses on slips of paper and fold in half.

Put the names in a large jar.

Have your guests pick a name.

The name on the paper is who they will be rooting for.

The winner gets a bottle of Bourbon.

Play Horseshoes with your guests. Make teams or play against each other.

Play charades -- each item you plan on acting out has to be something related to the Kentucky Derby.


Make your guests all speak with a southern drawl. Don’t worry this will get easier and easier to do with each Mint Julep.

Watch the race on TV, cheer wildly and loudly.


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    • Escapes profile image

      Escapes 6 years ago

      The Derby really is a great time. I love to throw a party -- regardless of the occasion. I even make up holidays!

    • Leah Helensdottr profile image

      Leah Helensdottr 6 years ago from Colorado

      What a great theme for a party! I have a friend who lives in Louisville, and she's told me that "Derby," as the natives refer to it, takes over the town for weeks in advance. There are all kinds of outdoor events, including fireworks. Last year's terrible flooding in April destroyed a number of the outdoor pavilions and picnic grounds built on the bank of the Ohio river, which runs past Louisville; I'll bet they've managed to repair or replace most or all of it for Derby this year! (Oh, Escapes, please see my e-mail to you.)


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