Earn yourself a spot in the winner’s circle with these tips for how to host a Kentucky Derby viewing party, brought to you by Evite in partnership with vineyard vines.
Kentucky Derby Decor
Celebrate like a true Southerner by sprucing up your space with symbols from the race. At the Derby, the winning horse is cloaked in a garland of roses (the official flower of the Kentucky Derby), so fresh flowers make fitting decorations. Since full bouquets of roses can be costly, fill vintage trophies with an assortment of other spring blooms and add individual roses as accents. For fun, dress up your home decor with bow ties and horse motifs — even plastic toy horses look chic with a coat of spray-paint.
Kentucky Derby Party Attire
Just because you’re watching the races from your living room doesn’t mean you can’t step up your style for the occasion. Choose something striking and seasonal — bright and cheery spring pastels are your best bet. But the most important thing is to wear a hat, a time-honored tradition believed to bring good luck to gamblers at the track. If you plan to sport a chapeau featuring a pattern, keep the design of the rest of your ensemble simple. Put your best foot forward by keeping up with the trends featured in this style guide, including everything from pocket squares to Derby hats, such as this hat from vineyard vines.
Kentucky Derby Party Food
Serve finger foods, such as cheese, crackers and fruit, so guests can keep an eye on the on-screen action as they eat. To prepare a crowd-pleasing cheese platter, include at least one hard cheese (like manchego), a soft cheese (like brie) and a blue cheese and serve with water crackers, grapes and dried fruit. Affix printable labels to toothpicks and insert one in each cheese so guests know what’s on offer. Accompany with a fresh fruit plate to add a burst of color to your table. Mini cupcakes and sugar cookies in the shape of horses and horseshoes supply a sweet finish.
Kentucky Derby Party Drinks
Mint juleps are a menu must. Stay on the side of history when deciding on your drinks –this mixed drink has been the traditional cocktail of the Kentucky Derby for almost a century. Serve in silver mint julep cups and attach our free rose printable to the tops of drink stirrers. Complete your bar with a bowl of fresh mint leaves for garnish and cups for straws and stirrers. Don’t forget to mix things up with a nonalcoholic beverage, such as mint lemonade, for guests who are opting out of sipping spirits.
Kentucky Derby Party Activities
You’re getting together to watch the Derby on May 7th, so be sure to have your space set up for viewing. Expecting newcomers? Include a link to this Kentucky Derby 101 infographic in your party invitation so they can brush up on the basics. Or print it and place it in a plain white frame to display on a side table.
A photo booth allows friends to horse around between races. Create your own photo booth complete with a DIY prize ribbon backdrop: First, purchase pinwheels (available at craft stores) in an assortment of sizes and satin ribbon in a rainbow of pastels. Spray-paint each pinwheel the color of your choice (or buy them pre-dyed); once dry, adhere these free race day-themed printable circles to the front. For the finishing touch, hang two strips of ribbon from the back. Use painter’s tape to adhere the prize ribbons to the wall.
Or, for an easy alternative, make a banner using our free printable circles. Then set up this free printable “Pick your prop & start horsin’ around” sign, gather friends to pose with free printable props on wooden dowels, and start snapping away!
Stay on theme with a fun outdoor party game — horseshoes! Purchase horseshoes and stakes online and set up the game in your backyard. Don’t forget to hand out prizes! It is racing day, after all.
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