These great Kentucky Derby party ideas, from drinks to decor, will help you easily throw an adorable theme party that is creative and fun!
Is there any annual spring event more beloved and filled with tradition than the Kentucky Derby?
You’d be hard pressed to find one.
The rich history of the event, the beauty of the horses, the frivolity of the hats, the immense pageantry, the refreshing Juleps, and the beautiful Kentucky landscape …
The first Saturday in May is a celebration like no other.
And we’ve got some great Kentucky Derby Party ideas to help you celebrate!
CREATING A GREAT CELEBRATION IS EASY WITH THESE ADORABLE KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY IDEAS:
THE BOURBON DRINKS … OF COURSE!
When you’re in Kentucky … you’re in bourbon country.
So you’ll want to have plenty of the best Kentucky libation on hand.
On that note, the Mint Julep is the quintessential cocktail of Derby Day.
It became the official drink of the event in 1938.
More than 120,000 Mint Juleps are typically consumed at Churchill Downs over the course of Derby weekend.
So it’s an imperative, you just can’t throw a Derby party without them.
While there are lots of recipes out there, we prefer the authentic thing.
And this recipe for a Danielson’s Mint Julep is the official recipe that is served at Churchill Downs.
Another requisite for any Derby party is the manner in which you serve your Mint Julep.
Silver cups are the standard.
Not only do they keep the drink ice cold, they allow frost to form on the sides of the cup.
It’s for this reason, you always want to hold a julep cup from the top or the bottom.
It is also perfectly acceptable to serve them in a highball glass.
A truly special touch is to use the official souvenir glasses from the actual Derby.
And come to find out, they are available to order and can be delivered right to your home!
How cool is that?
THE FUN AND FESTIVE KENTUCKY DERBY DÉCOR …
Some describe the Derby as “two minutes of racing and an entire day of drinking.”
While we can’t find a huge amount of fault with that sentiment, the race is truly the focal point of the day.
When creating the décor for our celebration, we began with that end in mind.
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A GREAT DIY KENTUCKY DERBY CENTERPIECE
The highlight of our tablescape is seven, lighted horse silhouettes, which created my very own horse race right on the dining table.
The supplies needed for the DIY Kentucky Derby centerpiece were minimal:
and my Cricut Maker.
I simply cut out a black silhouette of a jockey riding a horse and used glue dots to attach one to each cylinder vase.
I chose various heights of cylinder vases to make the table more interesting.
Finally, I placed a round LED light in each vase.
To mimic the colorful jockey silks seen at the Derby, I set each light to a different, vibrant color.
This cute, artificial grass table runner created the perfect foundation and accent for our thoroughbred silhouettes.
Finally red roses were an essential décor element.
After all, this is a party honoring an event often called “the run for the roses.”
To match our black silhouettes, we opted to showcase these beautiful florals in square black vases.
Add a trio of votive candles on either side for a dramatic lighting effect and you’ve got a table that will get the party off to a great start … riders up!
THE KENTUCKY DERBY FASHION IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER EVENT …
Floral prints, bright jewel tones, feminine ruffles and masks with a bit of bling … that’s what you’ll see at the Kentucky Derby.
For those celebrating at home, you can use this occasion as an excuse to finally dress up a bit.
Bye-bye black leggings! Yippee!!!
Vineyard Vines is the official clothing “style” of The Kentucky Derby again this year.
Some of my personal favorite’s in this year’s include:
This men’s tonal gallop printed tie. How great would the pink hues in this tie look when paired with a basic navy sport coat! Stunning!
For the ladies, I’m in love with this tiered pink dress! It is adorable and so on trend! It even has pockets!
To complete the look, just add this Kentucky Derby Fascinator! Sooo cute!
It’s handmade by the featured milliner of the 148th Kentucky Derby, Jennifer Pfannenstiel of Forme Millinery.
Add some jute-colored wedge espadrilles and you’ve got a great ensemble.
4. THE DETAILS …
As with any good event, the best way to make it truly special is to pay attention to the small details.
Your Kentucky Derby party should be no exception.
I found these colorful cocktail napkins which are official souvenirs of the Kentucky Derby.
I love how they depict the colorful jockey silks.
Truth be told, I used them as the color palette for our entire table.
PRO TIP: Pick one element of décor that you’re drawn to and build your color scheme around that. It’s a great way to decorate and tie everything together. It also does the work for you … all of the colors are already coordinated!
To add some fun, we coordinated each guests’ napkin with one of the colors of the horse silhouettes.
You could even take this a step further by associating a particular horse running in the race with each color.
This fun approach will each of your guests to literally have a horse in the race and create an extra element of fun!
HERE ARE SOME OF THE CUTEST KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY DECOR ITEMS I’VE FOUND:
Silver julep cups — as I said earlier, these are essential for any Kentucky derby themed party
Jockey table runner — this piece has so many colors around which to build your entire tablescape
Jockey silks napkins — the colors of theses napkins are just adorable! And would be great for any horse-racing themed party, in addition to being a great Kentucky Derby party idea
Good Luck horseshoe tags — how lucky would your guests be to find these at their place! So cute!
Gold flatware — I absolutely love the elegance this gold flatware adds to any table. When I bought it, I thought it was a bit of a splurge. And now i think it was a great investment because I use it so often!
Did you try this idea? Share it on Instagram with the hashtag #makeeverydayanevent and tag @makeeverydayanevent!
Looking for another drink option as you watch the Derby? Check out this bourbon-based cocktail whose origin traces back to Kentucky, the Old Fashioned.
Hosting a party this spring? Check out these blogs:
If you have any questions or suggestions, contact us or leave a comment!