Tips For Your Kentucky Derby Party

Whether you’re deeply interested in horse racing, love fancy hats or just can’t pass on a good time you don’t have to make the trip to Churchill Downs for a great Kentucky Derby party. Use these tips to plan your own festivities and enjoy the race from the comfort of your own home.

Set the Scene

Having the proper ambiance for your derby party is important for setting things off right. Whether your patio furniture is old or brand new give it a good cleaning and dusting before the party. 303 Multi-Surface Cleaner features a specialty solution that will clean both frames and fabrics leaving them guest-ready.


Don’t forget the extra seating! Having guests over means you’ll need more seating than usual. Add ottomans that can double as end tables or snag a few extra chairs in a complimentary color that you can place in pairs around the party.

Add some pops of color to your party area with an outdoor rug or throw pillows. Use traditional Southern flowers like roses, magnolias, hydrangeas and wisteria for a subtly refined look. Try arranging them in mason jars or painted tin cans for a rustic feel. Galvanized buckets make excellent beverage coolers and will add a nice ‘barn-chic’ touch to the decor.


Get the Refreshments Ready

The Kentucky Derby is a Southern tradition and that is reflected in the majority of dishes and cocktails you’ll see throughout the weekend.

First off – it’s not a Kentucky Derby party without a Mint Julep.


Mint Juleps are a must for any Derby party.


These classic cocktails are sweet and cooling, with a pleasant herbal tang from the fresh mint. If you’re looking for something with less sweetness but still traditional try the Whiskey Sour. Both cocktails are bourbon based, making it easy to give guests a choice.

Once you’re done with cocktails it’s time for food! The official Kentucky Derby website has you covered with recipes for main dishes like Cheesy Shrimp Grits, Bourbon Glazed Short Ribs and Lamb Lollipops. Accent your entree with A perfectly paired side dish like Sweet Potato Hash.

Ready for dessert? Food & Wine has you covered with this list of 11 options and recipes. (We’re partial to the Mini Black-Bottom Cheesecakes)

Plan a Few Games

Because the actual race only lasts about 2 minutes it’s not enough to dazzling your guests with a gorgeous patio and delicious vittles may not be enough – you must entertain them as well.

Luckily, the event lends itself to a few easy options. Try setting up a Hat Contest with the best chapeau taking the prize. Also good – having guests pull horse names out of a hat to give them someone to cheer for, or taking ‘bets’ at the door with winner taking bragging rights. Create your own leader board to keep track. Another option – set up a garden game like horse shoes, corn hole or croquet and play on teams. It’s enough activity to keep the energy up but not so much that you can’t sip and cocktail and hold a conversation while you play.


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