Festive Kentucky Derby Party Ideas You Can Bet On

While you may not have tickets to the track, you can still celebrate the Kentucky Derby at home. Throw a themed party at your place to watch the 142nd Run for the Roses with family and friends. From decor to food, here are festive party ideas that are a safe bet for Derby Day: 


Eye-catching headwear is part of what makes the Kentucky Derby so unique. Encourage the ladies to wear their best hat to the party. Or stop by a few local thrift stores in the days before the party and let your guests pick their favorites to wear for the day. Guys can get in on the fun too by sporting colorful bowties. Make it a competition for added fun!


Keep the pantry cabinet and fridge stocked with all the ingredients you’ll need to make the signature Derby drink: The Mint Julep. You’ll need Kentucky whiskey, fresh mint leaves, sugar (for the simple syrup), cups and ice. Or go off the beaten path and come up with your own signature drink Just be sure to keep all the essentials out so guests don’t have to open kitchen cabinet doors to find them!


Roses are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, hence the nickname, The Run for the Roses. Go for the traditional red roses or your favorite color. Arrange them in mint julep cups for a double dose of Derby-ness. If you don’t want to wear hats — decorate with them! Arrange them down the center of the food table for added flair. 


The actual race only lasts 2 minutes, so you’ll need to keep your guests entertained until Derby time. If the weather is nice, put out horshoes or cornhole for guests to play. If there are Derby aficianados on the guest list, come up with trivia questions to ask! If it’s a kid-friendly event, pin-the-tail on the horse would be a fun idea. Betting is a big part of the Derby, so incorporating a friendly bet into the party can actually get people really excited for the race. Ask guests to bring $2-$5 to put in the pail and bet on their two favorite horses. Winner takes all!


Southern food is a must since this race takes place in Kentucky. An assortment of appetizers is an easy way to feed a crowd. Beer cheese dip is a crowd-pleaser and also a favorite in the Bluegrass State. Fried chicken tenders and barbecue sliders make for easy pickup food that’s filling. Be sure to keep extra crackers and chips in your kitchen cabinets to restock the food table! 

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