Celebrate The Derby From Home

Tips To Host Your Own Kentucky Derby Party

Attendance at Churchill Downs may have been canceled but you can still celebrate the greatest two minutes in sports with a great Kentucky Derby At Home party.

NBC will televise coverage of the Kentucky Derby and undercard racing on September 5 from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET. The 146th running of the Kentucky Oaks will be televised Friday, September 4 on NBCSN from 3-6 p.m. ET. 

The Attire

Decide if you want to go all out from home and dress up in classic derby attire or if you want to have a more casual affair.

If you want to keep with tradition then have the ladies wear big hats and fascinators – Amazon is a great place to find them for a great price. Or invest in a nicer piece from Christine A. Moore Millinery, that can potentially be worn again later once the track reopens.

If you’re looking to keep it more casual with more of an in-field vibe then get these horse racing themed t-shirts from Bourbon Outfitter here.

The Decor

Consider using brightly colored tablecloths and napkins to evoke jockeys’ silks, like this collection from Pomegranate. If you have a favorite horse leading up to the party, you could match the tableware to that stable’s colors. A vase of red roses makes a fitting centerpiece at a party celebrating the Run for the Roses; you can also place several julep cups filled with roses (real or silk) strategically around the room. Use stirrup cups to strategically hold snacks and finger foods!

Order official 2020 Kentucky Derby programs from churchilldowns.com here so your guests can apply some real horse sense to their picks (the deadline to order is September 1st), and print out the words to “My Old Kentucky Home” so they can follow along during the Post Parade.

The Drinks

Gather Derby glasses from years past to serve drinks in or purchase official 2020 Derby glasses here!

Whether you love it or think it’s a criminal waste of good Bourbon, the mint julep is inextricably linked with the Kentucky Derby, and your guests will expect to sip one! Make sure you have plenty of julep cups on hand – like these pewter ones, which are more cost-effective and will never tarnish.
Pro Tip: Stop by Sonic and buy a bag of their ice. It’s perfect for mint juleps!

Need a refresher on how to make the perfect mint julep? Watch here!

A batched cocktail is always a good idea for a party since it’s ready to go for guests! Here is the recipe for Four Roses Commonwealth Punch.

The Food

Here is a collection of some of our favorite bourbon recipes that would be perfect for a derby party!

Mint Julep Cream Puffs
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Butter Cake
Belle Meade Bourbon Snack Mix
Maker’s Mark Sausage Balls with Bourbon Mustard

The Betting

Before we forget, this party is at least tangentially about a horse race, and what are horse races about?

The pageantry of the post parade? The strength and majesty of the thoroughbred? Nope. They are about losing money. Don’t let the fact that you are not at Churchill Downs keep you from losing some yourself.

Have each guest throw a few dollars into one basket and draw from another basket a folded slip of paper with the name of a Derby contender on it. (If there are more guests than horses, repeat the field as needed.) The winner takes all (divide the pot accordingly if you’ve doubled or tripled the slips of paper).

To give your faux wagering more authenticity, download the free Home Tote Board app from eponies.com before the party and enter the names of the actual Derby contenders. Display your tote board on your tablet in a central location. As you enter each guest’s wager by horse and amount, it will reflect the running house odds in real-time and calculate the winner(s)’ payout.