Hosting A Kentucky Derby Party

Not going to Louisville for the Derby this year? Neither is the Daily Racing Blog.

So what to do on this festive day of horse racing? Perhaps host your own Kentucky Derby gala.

“But how do I throw the perfect Kentucky Derby party?” you may be asking yourself. Excellent question.

It just so happens that we have a few ideas for doing just that …

ESTABLISH THE MOOD: Whether it’s an appropriately themed physical invitation or, more realistically, a properly contextualizing email, it’s crucial to set the tone of the party. Make sure guests are aware of what’s on the line here. Aside from horse racing glory, the Kentucky Derby is an entry into the culture of racing and everything that comes along with it. Even a party-goer coming into the sport cold, having no history with horse racing, can latch on to the energy and enthusiasm of Derby day.

DERBY DECOR: The key here is subtle and tasteful. Please don’t only buy one of those horse head masks and think you’re ready for race day. An equestrian theme isn’t easy to pull off but with some proper planning you may be able to find some plates and table pieces that acknowledge the Derby and celebrate the athletes that are competing. For those unaware, the Winner of the Kentucky Derby is traditionally draped with a blanket of red roses, so some long stem roses or petals could be an easy décor Win to put everyone in a Derby state of mind.

MAKE A MENU: No party worth attending is missing a great spread. Depending on when your party starts you may want to prepare a couple courses as Derby day can span several hours (television coverage usually starts around noon, with the race at about 6:15). You’ll need some tasty munchies to keep everyone satisfied. Of course, any great party is stocked with just the right amount of adult beverages. And, in honor of the Kentucky Derby’s signature drink, it’s worth making an effort to supply the ingredients for a Mint Julep. Bourbon on the rocks is also widely recognized…and accepted as a Derby cocktail.

DRESS THE PART: Derby day is so often defined by the traditional, yet always innovative, fashion choices. Of course, it’s best left to the host to decide just how formal you want to make the occasion but to really get in the spirit, encourage attendees to dress the part. Dressing to the nines is by no means a mandatory requirement, but you’d be surprised, as the host, how your own attire can attract attention (in a good way) and put the party on notice for the major event the Derby truly is.

INCORPORATE GAMBLING It’s no secret (not here anyway) that a big part of the Kentucky Derby is picking a horse to Win — all in the hopes of making out with a nice payday. Now that gambling on horse racing online is legal in most states, betting for you and your guests may be as simple as downloading one of the many apps, setting up an account, and placing a wager. As with anything, this process may take a little time, so be sure to encourage guests to set up their wagering profiles several days in advance.

There you have it. A simple step-by-step guide to throwing the perfect Kentucky Derby party.

The Derby is only two weeks away, so if you haven’t started your preparations or are only now considering taking on hosting duties, you should really get started sooner rather than later.

No matter the outcome of the race (and any wagers you may make), having a Derby day get-together is an amazing opportunity to celebrate one of sport’s biggest events. Best of luck…and don’t forget the bourbon.

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