Head Off to the Races With These 8 Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

You can bet on these Kentucky Derby party ideas to create an entertaining get together for your guests.

Published April 14, 2023

Like chess tournaments and coronations, the Kentucky Derby has an old-world sensibility and glamor you rarely see anymore. Step into that 148-year-old legacy by making your house the destination to be with a Kentucky Derby party. From quirky horse-themed activities to beautiful backdrops perfect for taking pictures made to be shared, here are a few Kentucky Derby party ideas to get you started.

Keep Your Derby Decorations Elegant


The Kentucky Derby is one of the oldest American sports competitions still happening today, and thanks to its historic legacy, the event maintains a certain refined level of decorative taste. This isn't the event to bring out the straw bails so to speak. Instead, think tea-time decorations. Soft spring colors, lace accents, and fresh-cut flowers are great places to start.

Create a Photo Wall With Roses


The Kentucky Derby is all about spectacle, and if you really want to match the energy at home during your Kentucky Derby party, construct a towering rose wall that guests can use as the perfect place to take photos. The rose garland that gets draped over the winners is just as famous as the Masters Tournament's green jacket. And, you don't have to shell out hundreds on real roses when craft stores have stunningly lifelike fakes for a fraction of the cost.

Don't Rely on Mint Juleps to Keep Guest's Thirst Quenched


Mint juleps in their little silver cups go hand-in-hand with the Kentucky Derby, but they're not the only drink you can serve at your celebratory soiree. Instead, try pairing the cocktail with other springtime favorites like:

Invite Your Guests to Dress Up Like Past Winners


We're not talking about coming dressed as jockeys or their wealthy sponsors. Instead, we're focusing on the true heroes of the Kentucky Derby - the horses. Coming dressed up in fancy attire and elaborate hats is tired; get creative by having your guests come dressed up in outfits inspired by the names of past derby winners. For 2010's winner, Super Saver, you could show up as a coupon-obsessed shopper, or for 1947's winner Jet Pilot, you could come in wearing a flight suit and Ray Bans like you walked off of the set of Top Gun.

Design Your Own Derby Horse


Horse racing isn't the most stimulating thing to watch if you're a young kid. Get the kids involved in the festivities by tasking them with designing their own derby horse. Print off coloring pages with blank horses so they can design their perfect competitor. Don't forget to make sure everyone picks out a seemingly whacky name to christen their champion steed with.

Host Your Own Miniature Derby Competition


While you're waiting for the race to start, challenge your friends and family to your own derby competition. Set up a small racetrack in your backyard using plastic cones, spray chalk, and streamers. Have your guests don their wooden hobby horse, stand at the start line, and fight to finish their laps faster than anyone else.

Play a Few Rounds of Horseshoes


Back in the day, horseshoes used to be a commonplace playground game, and you can bring back the easy aim-and-toss competition during your Kentucky Derby party. All it takes is two stakes and a few plastic (or real, if you've got them) horseshoes. Let guests go hog wild trying to ring the stakes with their horseshoes well into the night.

Send Guests Home With a Derby Goodie Bag


The best part of going to parties as a kid was getting to take home a goodie bag. Bring back this adolescent staple by rounding out your Kentucky Derby party with a custom goodie bag. Some festive things you could put in your bags are stainless steel julep cups, mini plastic horse figurines, rose-cented products, and chocolate gold coins.

Shine the Spotlight on Your Kentucky Derby Party


While at the heart of the Kentucky Derby is a competition, the event has expanded to be more about the socialization and camaraderie that comes from attending. What better way to celebrate this tradition than putting an event on your friends' social calendars? They'll be thrilled to get invited to a derby party that doesn't force them to buy an outrageous hat but lets them join in on the fun instead.

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Head Off to the Races With These 8 Kentucky Derby Party Ideas