The Kentucky Derby is a great way for you to get your family and friends together to watch one of the greatest and highly anticipated sporting events of the year. If you aren’t one of the lucky ones who are fortunate enough to be able to watch the race in person in Louisville, you should plan a Kentucky Derby themed party. Here is a guide to planning a classy party that will make your guests feel as if they really are at Churchill Downs watching the greatest two minutes in sports.
Once you have selected your guest list, choosing your invitations is the first step in the party planning process. You can buy premade invitations, but I recommend that you make your own. On the invitations, include a picture a man and woman in formal attire. If possible, place a picture of a horse and a trophy on the invitation. It will show that you went the extra mile by incorporating the theme of the party in your choice of invitations. You can either mail the invitations, or you can send them as an evite. It is also important that you make clear on your invitation that formal attire is required. Be sure to list the party start time at least 2 hours before the race begins so that your guests will have enough time to arrive, mingle, and settle in before the race.
Tip: It is important that you alert your guests to the dress code ahead of time so that none of your guests show up underdressed and feeling out of place. If it is extremely important to you that all guests adhere to the formal dress code, be sure to emphasize it on your invitation.
The Kentucky is the only sporting event where the fashion is just as important as the event itself. Stay true to the Kentucky Derby theme and require your guests to dress the part. Give your guests some advice on what to wear. In your invitation, include some suggestions for appropriate attire for both men and women. Have the men dress up in formal attire and let the ladies show up in their best over the top hats. Some recommendations for the ladies include tea length dresses, bright and bold spring colors, as well as floral patterns. Recommendations for the men include khaki pants and sports coats, button down shirts, and suits.
Tip: Have a contest for the best women’s hat, as well as the best male and female at the party. You can also host a contest for the best-dressed couple.
Selecting the menu is one of the most exciting parts of planning a party. For your Kentucky Derby party, stick to small finger foods that are neat and do not create a mess. Crab crakes will make great appetizers. You can also set up a tray of crackers and assorted cheeses. Be sure to also set up a tray of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. Place a few bowls of dips next to the vegetable tray. Get a variety of sandwiches to serve as the main dish. Serve both cold sandwiches, as well as hot paninis. For dessert, serve your guests chocolate mousse in martini glasses and place a strawberry in each glass. They are both delicious and beautiful to look at.
Tip: You can save money by making the appetizers and desserts yourself. Put any money you planned on spending for food toward the main dishes. Deli sandwich platters offer a variety of choices, and there are many Italian restaurants that can cater the paninis.
The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, so make sure you serve it at your party. Cocktails are also a great addition to your party. For those who don’t drink, serve iced tea. Spruce up the appearance of your drinks with colorful barware and umbrellas.
Tip: Serve your drinks in the official Kentucky Derby Mint Julep glasses. If possible, order enough for each guest to take one home.
Be sure to take a lot of pictures to commemorate the event. Once you have looked through all of the photos, choose the best one of each guest and mail them a copy as a party favor or as a thank you note.