Are you thinking of throwing a Kentucky Derby party? If you’re hoping to celebrate the most exciting two minutes in sports but don’t know where to start – this is your one-stop shop for inspiration and ideas.
Hello! We are throwing a surprise Kentucky Derby themed party for my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday, and we’re inviting you.
You know I love a party. So, when my sweet mother-in-law had a birthday coming up, my sisters-in-law and I put our heads together to come up with a way to celebrate her AND her birthday. Terry (my MIL) is a Kentucky girl and grew up on a horse farm – how cool is that?! My Sister-in-law had a fabulous idea to throw her a surprise Kentucky Derby themed party, and we all agreed. It was only fitting that we pull out the big hats and the bowties to celebrate her big day!
Ideas for hosting a cheer-worthy Kentucky Derby Party
We embraced the theme fully. You can check out my Pinterest Board for all of the fun ideas I came across!
To keep it simple (and secret), we created a Facebook event to manage the guest and RSVP list. I created an invitation graphic and posted it in the group in printable form for those who prefer a printable invitation. We were still able to set the tone of the party by using the digital invite but without the hassle of a paper invitation – bonus: ease of an online solution.
In keeping with the theme, we asked our guests to wear fancy, derby hats and bowties. I think everyone had fun with the idea!
For fun, I made a few fascinators and decorated a few floppy hats.
Click here for the tutorial on how I made the fascinators (hint: I used a paper plate and deco mesh). They were not only simple to make and super inexpensive, but most of all they were fun!
To give us a southern country feel, we used a myriad of gingham and floral patterns, with accents of black and white stripes. I used my Cricut Diecut machine to cut out the horseshoe and the racing horse silhouettes. These accents brought the theme home in a simple way.
My Mother-in-Law’s birthday is at the end of March when there aren’t a plethora of flowers around. To bring spring to us, we decorated with extra large tissue and other flowers in abundance. I’ll have a tutorial up for how we made them shortly and will link back when I do.
The cupcake toppers and food labels carried on the theme in florals and hand-lettering script.
The floral chandelier was the perfect centerpiece for my spring table, and I was so excited to get to use it again in this setting. It might even look more beautiful on my Sister-in-law’s grand chandelier.
We used this porcelain dinnerware from World Market. I love that it comes in its own space-saving tray – great for storing between events.
The food was straightforward and inexpensive to make, perfect for a crowd, and fit our theme. The menu included:
- Kentucky Hot Brown Casserole – I followed this recipe almost exactly, but used turkey deli meat instead of roasted turkey to save on time, along with crisped turkey bacon as that was what I had in the house.
- Pulled Pork with Slaw
- Potato Salad
- Crudites Tray (Fancy for veggies)
- Chicken nuggets – kids love ’em!
- Fruit tray
- Pimento Dip and crackers – OMG – SO good and rave reviews from the Kentucky natives.
- Kentucky Derby Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars – YUM!
- A selection of cookies
- Rose-topped cupcakes
- Coconut cake
A must-have at a derby party, along with the basics like water and soda, we served mint juleps with a twist – strawberry mint julep punch to be exact. We also had all of the fixings for the Oaks Lily cocktail – the official drink of the of the Kentucky Oaks, the premier race for 3-year-old female horses that they’ve held each year on the day before the Kentucky Derby since 1875. And no, I did not know that – Google told me – but now we both do.
A self-serve drink table made beverage service easy, as did a multi-purpose punch. This drink recipe card was close by for those who wanted to add a bit of a zip – aka: bourbon – to their punch. The cocktail recipe card is part of the printables kit I created for the party – it will be available for download shortly!
I would have loved to serve our mint julep punch in silver julep cups, but that was a little out of our budget. Instead, we went with a silver-topped disposable cup – a similar look within our budget.