Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

Kentucky Derby Porch Party at Zero George in Charleston
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow; Floral Design: Juniper and Jasmine

It's known as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports." Every year, thousands make the spring pilgrimage to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, and millions more tune in from all over the country to catch the big horse race. We've gathered some of our favorite Derby party ideas so you can throw an amazing viewing party at home.

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Check Out These Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

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The Ultimate Porch Party

Kentucky Derby Porch Party at Zero George in Charleston
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow; Floral Design: Juniper and Jasmine

With the warmer weather around the day of the Kentucky Derby, why not host your festivities in the South's favorite spot: the porch. With the actual race only being two minutes, you shouldn't limit yourself and guests to being stuck inside. Set up a mini buffet and bar cart on your porch and pull out extra seating if needed. A few rose-themed flower arrangements will set the tone for the event. Ask your guests to dress to theme with stylish, colorful dresses and festive hats from Fanny & June and Jill Courtemanche Millinery. Fellas, don't forget a great seersucker suit from Haspel.

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A Rose Wreath

Kentucky Derby Porch party at Zero George Rose Wreath
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow, Floral Design: Juniper and Jasmine

Crown the festivities with a ring of roses inspired by the garland given to the Derby winner each year. The floral designer at Juniper & Jasmine decided to skip the traditional red in favor of coral and white blooms with loose greenery, which suited the space better and embraced the colors of the season.

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Add Low Floating Flowers

Kentucky Derby Floating Flower Centerpiece
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Not all centerpieces have to be big and expensive. Include a second arrangement on the buffet table or drinks station. Fill a glass globe-shaped bowl half-way with water. Swirl a grouping of tulips inside of the bowl and float additional blooms (with ½ inch stems) on the water.

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Mix Up a Floral Focal Point

Juniper & Jasmine Floral Centerpiece for Kentucky Derby Party at Zero George
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow; Floral Design: Juniper and Jasmine

Take notes from the "Run for the Roses" and twirl up a standout centerpiece of roses, ranunculus, and seeded eucalyptus for the table. The brains behind Juniper & Jasmine even added mint leaves into the mix as a fresh-cut nod to the Derby's favorite cocktail.

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Prepare a Signature Drink

Kentucky Derby Party at Zero George in Charleston, SC Mint Juleps
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

The mint julep is a must for any Kentucky Derby party, but that doesn't mean it has to be ho-hum. Whether you're serving your cocktails in the traditional julep cup or glasses you had on hand, you can certainly create a fun twist on this classic cocktail. Mix things up with our Mint Julep Slush or big-batch Sweet Tea Mint Julep. Not into breaking tradition? We enjoy a classic mint julep just as much.

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Party Perfect Buffet

Kentucky Derby Party Buffet Recipes
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham; Food Styling: Erin Merhar

When it comes to the food, having quick bites guests can grab is ideal for a small or large gathering. Put out your favorite silver trays and bowls filled with these delish and festive recipes.

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Set Up a Bar Cart

Kentucky Derby Party Bar Cart at Zero George in Charleston, SC
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

A stocked cocktail cart invites guests to help themselves to any drink option. Some of our other favorite drinks for the Derby? The Oaks Lily, Black-Eyed Susan Slushies, Old Fashioned Cocktails, and Champagne Punch. This stylish bar cat by Safavieh stocked with festive accessories like horseshoe cocktail picks, paper straws, julep cups, and an antique ice bucket.

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A Bourbon-Infused Treat

Kentucky Derby Party Bourbon Chocolate Truffles
Jennifer Davick; Prop Styling: Lydia Degaris Pursell; Food Styling: Marian Cooper Cairns

Don't forget to include something sweet and indulgent for your guests. These Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls are perfect for the Derby. Display them with bakery macaroons or sugar cookies on a tiered stand for easy grabbing with big impact.

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Hold a Friendly Competition

Kentucky Derby Party Invitation and Betting Card by Fresh Ink
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

Let everyone get in on the action by setting out betting cards before the race. When it comes to the prize, there are multiple options you can go with. You can get as formal as a julep cup filled with roses, or simple as a cash prize. We found these cute Bet Cards from Fresh Ink.

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Set a Table

Kentucky Derby Table Setting
Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Rachael Burrow and Lindsey Ellis Beatty

With dinner time right around the corner from the start of the race, you can easily host a seated dinner. Emerald green, blush pink, and pops of rich brown and silver keep things elegant but not too stuffy. We included horse show ribbons from Etsy down the table in addition to fresh flower arrangements and silver bowls of cheese straws. Play up the party theme by attaching place cards to lightweight horseshoes.

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Sweet Favors

Kentucky Derby Party Cupcake Favors
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Rachael Burrow

Tie up boxes of themed treats for to-go goodies. These mini lemon curd cupcakes with horseshoe detail keep the party going even after guests leave.

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