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Derby Day Decor & Drinks!

watercolor of Kentucky Derby
Original art by Wendy Wells-Finn

Every year our family and friends gather around the television to watch and cheer for our horses in the Kentucky Derby. Talk about a fun 2-minutes!

But the party leading up to post time is when we really get into the theme of the day. We've attended events donning our Derby best to include fascinators and bow-ties and have hosted outdoor driveway parties with southern cuisine and plenty of mint juleps. It's always a good time.

Hosting a Derby party doesn't have to be complicated, set the menu, decide on a beverage of choice and break out your horse-related decor.

Let's Talk Drinks

Mint Juleps are pretty much a required drink of any derby party, BUT they're not the easiest drink to concoct for a crowd with all the muddling. Not to mention they're pretty much straight bourbon and not for the faint of heart. More than a couple could end up disastrous. This year, I'll be breaking out our punch bowl and making this Mint Julep Punch from Pizzazzerie. The ingredients are easy to acquire, it's make ahead, serves a crowd and isn't as potent as the original version. Arnold Palmers more your style? Here's a recipe for Kentucky Gambler Punch by Black Bourbon Society. Yes, purists will say they're not real Mint Juleps, so maybe keep the bourbon at the ready, just in case.

Set the Scene for your party

Vintage Libbey Cavalcade Barware

Look around your house for any item that's horse related. Have a old horseshoe or horse themed bookends? Use them as napkin weights on your table. Extra points for adorning horse-heads with rose leis!

Time to break out your silver...The day is also known as the Race for the Roses, so grab a big ol' bunch of roses and place them in silver pitchers & trophy or champagne buckets. These look best when the stems are hidden, so cut your green down so that just the rose petals are showing.

Don't have julep cups, no worries. I don't either. Yes, they're classic, but they're also "a once a year" kind of cup. They take up valuable territory in cupboards. Don't be afraid to use what you have. These mid-century Cavalcade glasses come in a variety of sizes and are perfect for any horse lover, year round.

The Menu

Derby parties call for southern food, period. Think ham biscuits, deviled eggs, pimento cheese and pork bbq. Serve up some greens on the side and don't forget desserts. I'd go for banana pudding or pecan tartlets.

The parties can be as elaborate or as simple as you'd like. It's a great excuse to invite friends over and share the most exciting 2 minutes in sports!

Here's to an exciting race day filled with friends, family and fascinators! For more ideas on hosting an eco-friendly party, read my post about that here.


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