Louisville residents often leave the Derby “partying” to those at Churchill Downs. Here’s how to make your own party the best bet in town!
Food & Drink:
Since Derby parties are several hours long and held during the day, typically the menus differ slightly from a traditional party. Your guests will likely “graze” on food and snacks throughout the day, so be sure to have plenty of food available at different times throughout the day. The specific menu isn’t as important as keeping food ready all day long! Also, be sure to have Derby Pie for your guests to enjoy.
Have plenty of wine and beer for your guests if they so choose, as well as non-alcoholic drinks. Remember to plan for any children if they will be attending as well. Have bourbon and mint for mint juleps to stay on theme! If you’re planning on getting a keg, remember that many other people in town have that same plan, so plan and reserve the kegs early!
Have several newspapers and racing forms/programs for people to view. Programs are available at most liquor stores and other retail businesses in the days before the weekend.
For some excellent food and drink ideas, visit:
Derby games are a crucial component to a successful Derby Party! Depending on your guests, here are some ideas to make everyone feel they are at the track. Local TV stations will be covering the races throughout the day. Make it fun by including “betting” on all of the races!
1. For each race, put all numbered horses in a hat, and $1 buys a pick of a horse in the hat. Winner takes all!
2. For each race, put all numbered horses in a hat, and $1 buys a pick out of the hat… the horse that comes in LAST place wins all!
3. For the Kentucky Derby race (10th race), have an auction. This process takes some time, but it is
-do games for $1 to pick the horse who comes in last
-do games for $1 to pick winning horse each day
- have an auction for the actual derby race- winner gets 75%, 2nd place gets 15%, 3rd gets 10% of pot
- have prizes/awards for “Most Creative Outfit”, “Most Likely to be a Jockey”, “Most Horse-Like”, “Best Derby Hat” etc.
4. Another Derby Race idea is to put all horses’ numbers in a hat and $2 buys a horse. Guests can buy as many horses as they want (depending on the interest level, the $ can be more or less, or have more pools.) Winner takes all!
Around the house:
Depending on your budget, many local stores have plenty of Derby-themed party-ware and decorations to make your get-together as thematic or as subtle as you’d like!
Roses are always a great addition to a Derby party as the race itself is the Run for the Roses. Other ideas: anything with horses or horseshoes, old betting tickets, jockey shirts, trumpets for the call to the post…etc
Make sure to have plenty of room, seating around the TV- it may only be the most popular time for 2 minutes of the day, but those are an important 2 minutes to make sure everyone can see or has a seat!
Since “My Old Kentucky Home” is sung before the race, make copies for your guests to have as a souvenir. And, if your budget allows- purchase Mint Julep glasses as souvenirs for your guests as well.
And, remember to have fun! Derby parties are some of the most unique and enjoyable get-togethers of the year for your guests-remember to enjoy yourself as well!