84 Fun Kentucky Derby Party At Home Ideas

How to throw a Kentucky Derby party at home with fun derby foods, horse racing party games, derby hats and party decorations — how to embrace the Southern charm of this fun party theme! Lists of party ideas on how to create a unique blend of elegance and comfort for a party ambiance that’s both festive and inviting for a derby aesthetic.

Kentucky Derby Party At Home Ideas text over different pictures of Kentucky Derby Parties Ideas

How To Throw A Kentucky Derby Party At Home With These Creative Party Ideas

The Kentucky Derby is a day filled with traditions, where the thrill of horse racing meets the charm of Southern hospitality, all within the cozy confines of your living room or for a backyard garden party! This party post is packed full of ideas for the best Kentucky Derby party theme or horse themed party!

How do you host the best Kentucky Derby party?

Hosting a Kentucky Derby party at home can be a whirlwind of fun, fancy hats, and mint juleps. So, grab your bowties and big hats and let’s get started!

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1. Set the Scene with Derby Decor: The official colors of the Kentucky Derby are red, black, gold, and white, so be sure that you incorporate those into your derby parties.

Think roses (they don’t call it the “Run for the Roses” for nothin’), horseshoes, and equestrian flair.

Use red tablecloths, sprinkle rose petals, and maybe even set up a faux winner’s circle for photo ops.

2. Dress Code is Key: Encourage guests to dress the part.

Ladies: think flowy spring dresses topped with extravagant hats or fascinators.

Gents: it’s time to break out those dapper linen suits and bow ties.

3. Signature Drinks & Food: Mint Juleps are non-negotiable, served in frosty silver cups.

Also consider a bourbon tasting station and a sweet tea bar for the non-drinkers and kids.

Don’t forget about fun takes on traditional southern food! (see ideas below)

4. Party Themed Areas: Have different areas for different kinds of guests to enjoy!

  • Watch / Listen Stations: Don’t forget to have several areas with the Derby on televisions (or radio broadcast) so guest can watch the happenings.
  • Mint Julep Bar: Set up a special bar area for mint juleps, using gold-rimmed glasses and a black or white bar cart decorated with red roses and Derby signage.
  • Photo Booth: Create a photo booth with a backdrop of red curtains, and provide props like hats, glasses, and boas in black, white, and gold.
  • Horse Betting Booth: Fun play money horse betting areas will engage guests to watch or listen to the Derby.
84 IDEAS FOR A KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY AT HOME - text over different images of Kentucky Derby party activities

18 Fun Kentucky Derby Party Invitation Titles

These are fun party titles are great for your KY Derby party invite wording:

  1. Derby Day Delight
  2. Run for the Roses
  3. Hats, Horses & Hoopla
  4. Mint Julep Jubilee
  5. Galloping Gala
  6. Saddle Up Soirée
  7. Manes & Martinis
  8. Hooves & Hats
  9. Finish Line Fête
  10. Bluegrass Bash
  11. Jockeys & Juleps
  12. Derby Dapper Day
  13. Race Day Rendezvous
  14. Trot & Toast Gathering
  15. Stable & Spirits Shindig
  16. Trackside Toast
  17. Winner’s Circle Celebration
  18. Derby Day Bash

Best Kentucky Derby Party Food And Derby Drinks - text over pictures of Kentucky Derby recipes

Tips For The Best Kentucky Derby Party At Your House

15 Delicious Theme Foods for a Kentucky Derby Party

  1. Fried Chicken: Because nothing screams South like perfectly fried chicken! (YUM!) You can elevate regular fried chicken by making fried chicken bites on skewers or party picks.
  2. Hot Brown Sliders: A mini version of the classic Kentucky Hot Brown – turkey, bacon, tomato, and a creamy cheese sauce on slider buns instead of the traditional open face way.
  3. Pimento Cheese Dip: Served with a variety of crackers, celery, and carrot sticks for dipping.
  4. Banana Salad: Banana salad is a Kentucky Southern recipe that I haven’t seen anywhere else but the south. It’s made of bananas in a special sauce with peanuts. GET THE BANANA SALAD (BANANA CROQUETTES) RECIPE HERE
  5. Bourbon BBQ Wings: Chicken wings coated in a sticky, sweet, and slightly spicy bourbon-infused barbecue sauce.
  6. Kentucky Beer Cheese: A sharp cheddar and beer dip, perfect with pretzels or crusty bread.
  7. Cornbread Muffins: Sweet or jalapeño-infused cornbread, baked in mini muffin tins for easy sharing.
  8. Fried Green Tomatoes: A Southern classic, served with a remoulade or buttermilk dipping sauce. GET THE FRIED TOMATOES RECIPE WITH DIPPING SAUCE HERE
  9. Derby Pie Mini Tarts: Miniature versions of the chocolate and walnut pie, perfect for individual servings.
  10. Shrimp and Grits Bites: Small servings of creamy grits topped with spicy shrimp.
  11. Biscuits and Ham: Mini buttermilk biscuits filled with thinly sliced country ham and a dab of honey mustard. YOU CAN ALSO MAKE THESE HAM SLIDERS
  12. Deviled Eggs: Offer a variety, from traditional to avocado or bacon-topped, for a fun southern appetizer. GET THE BEST DEVILED EGG RECIPE HERE
  13. Collard Greens Dip: Creamy, cheesy dip with Southern collard greens, served hot with tortilla chips. (Think spinach dip, but with collard greens!)
  14. Bourbon Pecan Chicken Skewers: Chicken pieces marinated in a bourbon glaze, skewered, and grilled.
  15. Peach Cobbler Cups: Individual servings of peach cobbler, making it easy for guests to grab and enjoy.
Kentucky Derby Mint Julep and Other Kentucky Derby Drinks - Text over drawing of how to make a mint julep drink

13 Fun Theme Drinks for Kentucky Derby Parties

  1. Classic Derby Mint Julep: The quintessential Derby drink made with bourbon, mint, sugar, and crushed ice.
  2. Souther Sweet Tea: Sweet tea is a must for your Derby party. It’s a Southern staple! YOU CAN ALSO MAKE THIS SUN TEA RECIPE
  3. Oaks Lily: The official drink of the Kentucky Oaks race, made with vodka, lemonade, cranberry juice, and a splash of triple sec.
  4. Bourbon Smash: A refreshing mix of bourbon, lemon, mint, and simple syrup.
  5. Sweet Tea Vodka Lemonade: A Southern twist on traditional lemonade, spiked with sweet tea vodka. ALSO MAKE THIS REGULAR LEMONADE WITHOUT ALCOHOL
  6. Black-Eyed Susan: A bourbon drink with orange juice, pineapple juice, and a splash of sour mix.
  7. Kentucky Mule: A Southern take on the Moscow mule, with bourbon instead of vodka, ginger beer, and lime.
  8. Peach Mint Julep: A fruity variation of the classic mint julep with fresh peach puree.
  9. Derby Day Sangria: A refreshing sangria made with white wine, bourbon, fresh fruits, and mint.
  10. Watermelon Mint Julep: A summery twist on the classic, blending bourbon, fresh watermelon, mint, and lime.
  11. Southern Belle: A cocktail made with bourbon, peach liqueur, and iced tea, garnished with a peach slice.
  12. Horse’s Neck: A simple yet elegant drink with bourbon, ginger ale, and a long spiral of lemon peel.
  13. Lemon Bourbon Fizz: A fizzy and refreshing cocktail with bourbon, fresh lemon juice, sugar, and club soda. ALSO MAKE THIS NO ALCOHOL RASPBERRY FIZZ DRINK

15 Kentucky Derby Themed Games and Party Activities

Derby Hat Contest: Have guests strut their stuff in their Derby best. Award prizes for categories like Most Elegant, Most Outrageous, Best Homemade, etc.

“Place Your Bets” Booth: Set up a mock betting booth where guests can place bets on their favorite horses. Use play money or tokens and offer prizes for the winners or things they can “buy” with the money they win.

PRO PARTY TIP: Also have a couple of fun horse racing games like these Derby Day games around the party!

Horse Shoe Toss: A nod to the equestrian theme, set up a horseshoe pit and let guests test their skills. Grab a horseshoe set like this for ultimate team competitions during your party.

Run for the Roses Relay: Create a relay race where teams must carry a rose on a spoon without dropping it (or do an obstacle course). This is great if you’re having a derby party for kids, too!

Mint Julep Mix-off: Invite guests to craft their version of the classic Derby drink. Have a taste test to crown the mixology master.

Derby Trivia Challenge: Test your guests’ knowledge of Kentucky Derby history, horse racing trivia, and fun facts about Louisville, KY.

Photo Finish: Set up a photo booth area with this set and other items like Derby-themed props like hats, roses, and toy horses. Encourage guests to snap their winning poses.

Pin the Tail on the Racehorse: A playful take on the classic game, with a Derby twist. Blindfolded guests try their best to pin the tail on a poster of a racehorse.

PRO PARTY TIP: This is a fun set to get, especially if you’re throwing a Kentucky Derby party for kids and adults!

Craft Your Own Fascinator: Start with hats like this or plain headbands like this and then provide supplies like feathers, ribbons, flowers, and more for guests to create their unique headpieces.

Bourbon Tasting Station: Set up a selection of Kentucky bourbons for guests to sample and rate. Provide tasting notes and information about each bourbon.

“My Old Kentucky Home” Karaoke: Encourage guests to belt out the Kentucky state song or any other Southern-themed tunes.

Derby Day Bingo: Create bingo cards with common Derby day sights and events (e.g., horses, hats, mint juleps) and play throughout the party.

Guess the Winner: Before the race, have everyone write down their guess for the winner, the closest guess wins a fun prize.

Themed Puzzle Station: For a more relaxed activity, set up a table with jigsaw puzzles featuring horses or Kentucky landscapes. Remember, there are people who seek out quiet areas at parties and this is perfect for that!

Derby Day Scavenger Hunt: Hide horse-related items around your party area and give guests a list of items to find. First person or team to complete the list wins fun prizes.

Kentucky Derby Party Decorations Ideas

Official Kentucky Derby Colors

The official colors of the Kentucky Derby are red, black, gold, and white, so be sure to use those colors throughout your party decor.

  • Table Linens: Dress your tables in luxurious red, black, gold, or white tablecloths. Layer with contrasting runners or placemats for a rich, textured look.
  • Chair Ties: Wrap chair backs with sashes in Derby colors, using fabrics like satin or organza for a touch of elegance.
  • Banners and Garlands: Hang banners or fabric garlands in the Derby colors across walls or ceilings. Consider patterns like stripes or polka dots for added fun.
  • Horseshoes and Derby Prints: Decorate with horseshoe motifs and classic Kentucky Derby posters. Frame them or hang them as part of a larger wall collage. Even if you’re going for an elegant garden party theme, you can still mix in fun and whimsy with horse decorations throughout.
  • Rose Petals: Sprinkle red rose petals along walkways or on tables for a touch of romance and color.
  • Gold Accents: Use gold trays, picture frames, and other decorative items to add a luxurious feel to the space.
  • Black and White Striped Accents: Incorporate black and white striped pillows or umbrellas if your party extends outdoors.

Floral Arrangements

  • Red Roses: Since the Kentucky Derby is also known as “The Run for the Roses,” beautiful arrangements of red roses are essential. Use gold or black vases for a sophisticated touch.
  • Mixed Bouquets: Incorporate white flowers, greenery, and touches of gold or black accents to create eye-catching centerpieces.

Tabletop Decor

  • Place Settings: Use black and white dishes with gold utensils and red napkins for a striking look.
  • Equestrian Touches: Incorporate small equestrian elements, such as miniature horse figures or jockey silhouettes, into your tablescapes.
  • Race Day Programs: Scatter official race day programs or create replicas to place on each table for guests to browse.
KENTUCKY DERBY OUTFITS FOR WOMEN - different womens Kentucky derby outfit ideas and Derby Aesthetic

What do you wear to a house Derby party?

Traditionally, Kentucky Derby parties are all about dressing up with fun fascinators, florals, linen and crazy socks. However, when in doubt, check with the host about a Kentucky Derby dress code. It can range from spring formal (garden party formal) to a casual backyard bbq cookout attire!

What Should Women Wear To A Kentucky Derby Party?

  • Floral or Pastel Dresses: Think springtime vibes with knee-length or midi dresses in soft, airy fabrics.
  • Bold Hats or Fascinators: The bigger and more colorful, the better. This is the day to embrace extravagant headwear.
  • Statement Jewelry: Complement your outfit with large, eye-catching pieces, like chunky necklaces or ornate earrings.
  • Comfortable Wedges or Flats: Since you’re at home, opt for stylish yet comfortable footwear that you can wear all day.
  • Sunglasses: Add a touch of glamour (and practicality, if you’re outdoors) with a chic pair of sunglasses.
KENTUCKY DERBY OUTFITS FOR MEN - different pictures of men's outfits for Kentucky Derby parties

What Should Men Wear To A Kentucky Derby Party?

  • Seersucker or Linen Suits: Lightweight and breathable, perfect for a warm day. Pastels or light colors reflect the season.
  • Bow Ties or Neckties: Go for bright colors or patterns that stand out. Derby day is the perfect excuse to wear that bold tie.
  • Fedora or Panama Hat: Not only do they offer sun protection, but they also add a dapper touch to any outfit.
  • Loafers or Boat Shoes: Comfortable yet stylish, these are ideal for a relaxed home setting.
  • Colorful Socks: Men can add an unexpected pop of color or pattern with their socks, a fun nod to the festive nature of the day.
  • Pocket Squares: A simple way to add a pop of color and elegance to your Derby day attire.

You’ll also have fun with this outdoor party theme: Summer Solstice Party Activities At Home

How To Throw A Summer Solstice Party Mid Summer Celebration different summer solstice pictures of summer solstice party ideas

I hope you have fun with these Kentucky Derby party at home ideas!

DISCLOSURE: Affiliate links are used on this site. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please refer to our DISCLOSURE.

About the author

Friends have called Jackie the "Midwestern Martha" [Stewart] because of her 20 years of over-the-top theme parties, super fun sleepover tips, fun theme recipes, DIY game ideas and awesome party tips! LEARN MORE

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