Kentucky Derby Party Ideas, Decorating, Fun Contests

Have a party and celebrate horse racing’s great race, The famous Kentucky Derby – the start of the Triple Crown. Here’s our fun ideas for planning and hosting your own horse race day bash:

  1. Fancy Hats

    – All ladies (and even the gents if you like) should wear elaborately decorated hats – embellished with flowers, roses, horse figures, whatever they like – invite all to be as inventive as possible. Have a contest for the best hat – offer Win, Place, and Show ribbons to the winners.

  2. For Invitations

    – Glue a picture of last year’s winner of the Kentucky Derby on the front. Another option – find pictures of famous jockeys riding in the Derby, or past winning jockeys.

  3. Decorations

    – Decorate with horse memorabilia, racing icons, horseshoes, jockey photos, and loads of roses. Tack up a chart with the morning line odds, plus cut out pictures of the entered horses.

  4. Let’s Get This Party Started!

    – Start your party a few hours before the start of the race to give guests time to enjoy cocktails and appetizers, as well as pick their choices for the winning horse. Make sure to have printouts for each guest giving them information on each entered horse and expert’s opinions on which horse’s are likely to win.

  5. Watching the Race

    – Make sure to place TV set (or sets) in a central spot so everyone can see the race – turn the set on early so guests can watch the pre-show.

  6. Pick the Winner Contest

    – Have all guests pick their choices for the Kentucky Derby’s win, place, and show winners. After the race results are in, award points to each entrant. 12 Points for Win, 7 Points for Place, 3 Points for Show. Award prizes to the guest with the most points.

  7. The Must-Have Kentucky Derby Cocktail

    – Serve Mint Juleps – a must. You’ll want to use Kentucky Bourbon for this party!
    Here’s a classic Mint Julep recipe from “Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide”:

    Mint Julep Recipe
    – – – – –

    4 sprigs Mint
    1 tsp. Powdered Sugar
    2 tsp. Water
    2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

    – – – – –
    In a silver julep cup, silver mug, or Collins glass, muddle mint leaves, powdered sugar, and water. Fill glass or mug with shaved or crushed ice and add bourbon. Top with more ice and garnish with a mint sprig and straws.


Happy Derby Day!


Cream of Kentucky Bourbon and Mint Julep Recipe retro ad from the early 1940s

Check out this retro advertisement circa 1941 for Cream of Kentucky, the “Double-Rich” Bourbon. They offer a Mint Julep Recipe for “frosty summer drinks” – – and also good for a Kentucky Derby Day party!

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