Hosting The Perfect Kentucky Derby Party

Spring has finally sprung, which means it’s Kentucky Derby time! If you can’t make it down to the races, there’s no reason that you can’t celebrate the day (and yes, it’s an entire day long-affair in honor of those two heart-stopping minutes) in style.

Kentucky Derby Fashion

This year the Kentucky Derby will be held on Saturday, May 3 – so be sure to plan a bit ahead for a glorious day of fun with friends and “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”

Where: Provided the weather is nice, your Derby Day should be held outside. Some round tables set with crisp white linens, your best silver and china, and vases of fresh flowers should suffice. (Bonus points if you buy enough mint julep cups to hold fresh flowers on the tables and serve your beverages in!)

Wear: The day of the Kentucky Derby is one of the only events where hats and fascinators are nearly compulsory for ladies. (There really should be more occasions to break out a gorgeous and/or over-the-top piece of headgear.) It’s also an event that, on site within the reserved seating areas, has an unspoken dress code.

On this occasion ladies and gents should think “garden party” meets The Great Gatsby when getting ready. Ladies should be wearing tasteful spring dresses – a knee-length dress in a light color and material. If a dress isn’t in the cards, a pastel suit or white trousers with a pretty printed top will do the trick. Don’t forget a pretty pashmina for warding off a chill, and a hat or fascinator to add that bit of “oomph.” Of course the super-classy wide-brimmed straw hat (in any color) is always appropriate, but on site at the event the hats tend to be showstoppers.

The men should also look dapper! A smart linen suit with a pastel shirt, or neatly pressed Khakis and a spring-y Oxford shirt are the way to go. Since they don’t get to join in on the hat fun, the men can bust out a colorful bow tie/pocket-square combo.

Do:  There are a few races throughout the day, but the main event isn’t until the end. To kill time, think lawn games like bocce, croquet, badminton, and of course – horseshoes. A best-in-show hat competition for the ladies, and a prize for whoever picks the winning horse will keep everyone engaged and excited throughout the day.

For some ambiance on the lawn, include a playlist of great jazz-era hits. Everything about The Derby harkens to old-school, down-home Southern charm, and your playlist should reflect that.

 Eat and Drink:

Mint Juleps Kentucky Derby

Mint Juleps are the beverage of choice for the races. In fact, they’ve been the official drink of The Kentucky Derby for the past 18 seasons. (Check out the official recipe here!) Mimosas and white wine spritzers are also perfect garden party drinks, and Whisky is the official gentlemen’s drink of the Kentucky Derby. Of course, always have some non-alcoholic beverages on hand. Sweet-tea by the pitcher, and sparkling water with lemon and lime slices are both refreshing and traditional options.

Finger sandwiches, southern fried chicken, and bourbon marinated pork-loin (check out our related content for the recipe) and all perfect, and traditional, Kentucky Derby fare.

Leave a Reply