Monday December 11, 2023
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Host Your Own Derby Party

Churchill Downs RacingThe annual running of the Oaks and Kentucky Derby will take place this Friday and Saturday, May 2nd and 3rd.  Throughout the course of the races, hundreds of thousands will enjoy the races and festivities from under the twin spires of Churchill Downs.  Many others, however, will choose to get in on the action from the comfort of their own home or at a Derby party.  Celebrating the event at home is a great way to enjoy the many races throughout the day:  it is less stressful, less crowded, and cheaper.

Once you have decided to throw a Derby party at your home, the next step is to plan a fun party.  There are a number of directions in which you can take your Derby party.  Check out some of the theme  ideas below from a variety of sources, including the Official Kentucky Derby website and Better Homes and Garden:

  • For a more Family Friendly Experience, have a Under-Horse Party
    • Decorations:  decorate in the colors of the under-dog horse
    • Attire:  casual – for kids (or adults), buy cotton T-shirts and fabric paint so the kids can make their own jerseys
    • Food:  potluck, grilled food, horse-shaped cookies for kids to decorate
    • Drinks:  mint juleps (for virgin mint juleps – substitute ginger ale for bourbon)
    • Games:  Corn hole, horse shoes, derby pool (put the horse numbers into a hat and have your guests draw a number, a prize or an extra drink to the winner), water balloons, pin-the-tail-on-the-race horse
  • For a more informal party, have an Infield Party
    • Decorations:  Outdoors, use plastic horse figurines or plastic trophy cups for place markers, use trophy cups as cocktail glasses, pretty much anything goes here
    • Attire:  casual
    • Food:  grilled food, potluck, burgoo
    • Drinks:  beer and mint juleps
    • Games:  corn hole, horseshoes, three-legged races, provide materials (e.g. duct tape and plastic shopping bags) for a create your own hat contest, beer pong, slip-n-slides, derby pool

  • For a more formal party, have a Millionaire’s Row Party
    • Decorations:  red carpet, rose petals in the center pieces or scattered on the table, vases of red roses
    • Attire:  formal, hats are a must for the ladies
    • Food:  meat and cheese trays, small finger foods, rose petal ice cream, Kentucky Derby pie
    • Drinks:  champagne, mint juleps, other cocktails
    • Games:  have awards for best hat and best dressed, derby pool, bet on the horses as a group

Twin Spires PartyThese are just a few example of Derby party ideas – the sky is the limit when creating a party to suit the tastes and needs of you and your guests.

Some other responsible party tips:  If the weather is permitting and you will be outside, let your neighbors know ahead of time.  Introduce yourself, if necessary, and provide your neighbors with a contact phone number and ask that they call you with any complaints (e.g. noise level) before calling the police.   If you serve alcohol at your party, please do not let your guests drive impaired; have local taxi numbers readily available, have the bus schedule available (if you live near a bus route and your guests live near a bus stop) or have a couple of your guests volunteer to be designated drivers for the rest of the party (a perfect job for any one with children of driving age and living at home).

If you have Derby party tips of your own, share them below in the comments section.

Happy Derby!

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