Mary Fosky Photography
ABOUT THE THEME

You don’t have to make a trip to Churchill Downs to experience the excitement of the race track. The run for the roses is filled with extravagant fashion, hearty food and a unique blend of traditions with down-home comforts. A derby-themed party is great for any occasion, from bridal showers to cocktail parties, not just to watch “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Place your bets, the party is about to start.

VIBE: Traditional

SIMILAR PARTY THEMES: Southern Tea


Entertainment

BLUEGRASS BAND

Enjoy a musical down-home touch for your Derby party. Kentucky is the bluegrass state afterall, and including live music into your event is a great way to build up the anticipation before the beginning of a race.


Venue Settings

COUNTRY CLUB

A country club is a perfect complement to the classy style that goes hand in hand with the derby. This venue will bring a touch of modern elegance to your party. See if the country club has a veranda or patio to watch the big event, this outdoor atmosphere will make you feel closer to the action.


Food

DERBY PIE

This classic Kentucky dish is a great consolation prize for anyone who didn’t pick the winning horse. This ooey-gooey twist on a pecan pie has a dash of bourbon and chocolate in the recipe.


Food

FINGER SANDWICHES

Your Derby Day menu should remain true to the theme, so put a southern twist on these bite-sized sandwiches. Try a spicy and creamy pimento cheese sandwich, or a Kentucky “Hot Brown” with chicken, bacon, tomato and a rich cream sauce. Have burgoo on the side for dipping.

Mary Fosky Photography

Beverage

MINT JULEP

But really, this party is all about the mint julep. Luckily it’s one of the simplest drinks to make in large batches: bourbon, simple syrup and muddled mint make for a winning combination. Have extra mint for garnishes, and if you really want to go for authenticity, make your mint juleps with Early Times (the only bourbon they serve at Churchill).

Adam Jamie, Unsplash

Creative Detail

THEMED COSTUMES

It’s just not the derby unless folks show up in their seersucker suits and giant flowered hats. Wearing a hat to the derby is believed to be good luck, so remind everyone they’re playing to win. Give out a prize to the best hat, best dressed, and of course, whoever picks the winning stallion.

Weave the charm of hats and fascinators into décor, like mini hat wine glass charms or swizzle sticks.

Mary Fosky Photography