At Amira, we’re all about the horses. Our community was once home to prize-winning Egyptian Arabian horses. So, it’s no surprise when residents break out the mint julips for the running of the Kentucky Derby. The race takes two minutes to run, but the parties last all day. This year, the derby takes place May 7, giving you plenty of time to plan a Derby Day party of your own. Here are some tips to get you off and running.
Run for the Roses
The Derby’s nickname is the “Run for the Roses,” so have plenty of red roses on hand. Put fresh roses in vases or scatter them around the dessert table. If fresh roses are out of your price range, craft your own out of paper. Throw brightly colored tablecloths on tables to represent jockey silks. When it comes to invitations, julip glasses and banners, check out the official Kentucky Derby Store.
Dress to Impress
People don’t go to the derby just to watch the horses. They go to see and be seen. Invite your guests to dress to impress. Traditional attire for women ranges from colorful shorts and sun hats to brightly colored sundresses. Men wear slacks and button-down shirts or even three-piece tweed suits.
It’s All About the Hats
Hats are a big part of Derby Day. Men content themselves with Panama hats or fedoras. Women go all out decorating their headpieces with flowers, feathers, bows and ribbons. Traditionally, women wear wide-brimmed, Southern Belle-inspired hats. You can also ask guests to opt for a smaller “fascinators.” Popular in England, these small woven discs are topped with feathers and netting. They can be found most anywhere that sells hats, but you can make your own.
Serve Up Snacks
When it comes to feeding your guests, small bites are the name of the game. You want something guests can easily walk around with as they hobnob with friends and cheer their favorite horses on. Set out serving dishes full of chicken wings, Kentucky Hot Brown Sliders, grit fritters and mini biscuit sandwiches. We really love these handy Jar-Cuterie snacks. Want to eat like the bigwigs on Millionaires Row? Try your hand at these official recipes.
Don’t Forget Dessert
For dessert go with Southern classics like pecan pie, ice cream sundaes with bourbon caramel, mini fruit hand pies and Kentucky bourbon berry shortcakes.
Mint Julips and More
Mint Julips have been the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby since the 1930s. Just bourbon, mint and simple syrup they are easy to prepare and fun to drink. You can stir up a classic Mint Julip or add a twist with muddled berries. This year we’ll definitely try this recipe for cherries and cream julips. If some guests aren’t fans of julips there are plenty of other race-day cocktails you can proffer. An Old Fashioned is really just a julip without the mint. Town & Country has a whole list of race day cocktails. Teetotalers will love a pitcher of sweet tea or these mock mint julips.
Fun and Games
Did we mention the race is only two minutes long? Be sure to offer activities other than the television. Horseshoes is the perfect Derby Day party game. Set up a betting window so guests can place their bets (for money or prizes), host a trivia game with fun facts about the Kentucky Derby and be sure you’ve set up a Spotify Derby playlist. For the kids, set up a craft station and let them make their own Derby Day hats, hold a stick horse race in the backyard or have them bob for apples.