Gentlemen (and Ladies), place your bets! The 139th annual Kentucky Derby will be held on Sunday, May 4th, which marks the best two minutes in sports each year. There’s really nothing else quite like it, when everyone dons their most sophisticated attire along with the traditional large brimmed hats for the women, and heads to the tracks with a mint julep in hand to watch their horse and jockey near the finish line. Some are lucky enough to attend the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, and others will watch from home as southern tradition comes to life for this special event. Will your favorite thoroughbred receive the Triple Crown this year? You just never know.
Now is the perfect time to begin planning your Kentucky Derby party, and make it an annual event for everyone to attend year after year…especially if the tracks at Louisville are nowhere close. A member of our marketing team told us about her friend that hosts an annual Kentucky Derby tailgate, where she mixes southern tradition, (i.e. formal china and silver, the dresses/hats), with modern tailgate, (fried chicken and a laid back atmosphere). What a cute idea this was…which totally inspired my blog today!
When anyone mentions the Kentucky Derby, my thoughts automatically go to beautifully dressed women with large, over-the-top hats and floral dresses, and men in bow ties. Truth: as much as the Kentucky Derby is about the horses, it’s also about the traditional southern attire that seems to surface year after year. Traditional Derby wear for women is a formal day dress or a floral sundress, along with perfectly matching heels. Jewelry is typically understated featuring pearls and light bangles, which don’t draw attention away from the gorgeous large hats that we all iconize with the Kentucky Derby. Typically with Kentucky Derby hats, the larger the brim and the bolder the floral or feather décor on the hat, the better. One of my favorite things to do in the days after the Kentucky Derby is browse through the craziest hats that people wore this past derby season. Anything goes with Kentucky Derby hats! The crazier the better. Women typically attend events with two bags, one clutch for placing bets and mingling, and one stylish tote for the day’s essentials. Men attend the Kentucky Derby dressed in seersucker suits with vibrant pants in hues of red, green, yellow or orange. A bright dress shirt is always popular with a colorful bow tie. Vineyard Vines does the official style of the Kentucky Derby.
When planning your Kentucky Derby party décor, consider creating an outdoor event with straw bales for seating, which you can cover in jockey silks. Your table can be easily decorated with iron horseshoe napkin holders, which also work great for windy days to hold down table cloths. Romantic florals are an important part of each table setting, featuring jockey silk themed mason jar vases to hold fresh garden roses and peonies. Serve your food dishes on your finest china and silver. A great idea for décor that I found this year was a red rose champagne ice chiller. You’ll want to have plenty of bubbly cold and on-hand as the races commence, so that winning bets can celebrate. Simply freeze your fresh (unopened) rose buds in ice cubes the day before your party, and then decorate your champagne and ice bucket for a romantic and useful décor. Once the ice melts, you’ll have a gorgeous bucket of roses rather than a bucket of soiled water. Need a pick-me up for your mixed derby drinks? Try a fun (and easy) DIY project with folded flag drink stirrers, which make the perfect drink accompaniment.
A Kentucky Derby party wouldn’t be complete without traditional southern cuisine! Create a gorgeous sampling of southern foods with fried chicken, pulled pork sliders, potato salad, watermelon salad bites and biscuits. The less messy the food, the better, which is why my favorite Derby recipe is always Cucumber Benedictine Sandwiches, which combine a delicious combination of cucumbers, cream cheese, onion, Tabasco, salt and white or wheat bread. They’re elegant, dainty and absolutely delicious! Be sure to refresh your guests’ taste buds with a refreshing mint julep cocktail, lemonade or a Long Island Iced Tea!