When the first Kentucky Derby took place in May 1875, horseracing fans had to attend the event in person if they wanted the chance to experience it. With no television or radio available for decades yet and newspapers sometimes taking days to print stories, this really was the only way.
Thankfully, technology has progressed to the point where people can watch the Kentucky Derby on television, a computer screen, or even a large movie screen at a local bar or other entertainment venue. Although the race may take only two minutes to complete, a party thrown in honor of the Kentucky Derby can go on all day. The following tips should help those playing host this year prepare for an unforgettable party.
Start by Sending Formal Invitations
What better way to get people excited to attend an official Kentucky Derby party than by sending them a festive invitation? After all, getting fun things in the mail is becoming rarer all the time. While the invitation should include the basics such as time and date, it should also inform guests of the expected attire for the event.
Guests who have not attended a Kentucky Derby party in the past may be unfamiliar with the dress code, so hosts should be sure to include some suggestions in the invitation.
Decorate Derby Style
The outfits people show up in will create lots of laughs and memories, but the decorations should be appropriate as well. For example, decorating with roses plays off the fact that the winning horse receives more than 400 roses after the race that someone takes the time to sew into a blanket. Trophies, pictures of horses, and red tablecloths to symbolize roses are some additional decorating ideas.
Allow Guests to Place Small Bets on the Race
Offering a small prize such as a Kentucky Derby hat or another themed type of prize could be fun for everyone. It will go to the person whose horse placed the highest since no one may choose the actual winner. Another option is to have the host ask those who would like to participate to purchase raffle tickets at a nominal cost, place the tickets into a jar, and choose a few winners before the end of the party.
Offer Food and Drinks Southern Style
The Kentucky Derby is so rich in tradition that people expect to see certain foods and drinks served at parties thrown in its honor. The mint julep cocktail is just one popular example. Fortunately for party hosts, it’s possible to prepare several fan favorites on more of a small party scale than a large event scale. Preparing the foods and then placing them on a long buffet table makes it easy for guests to return as their hunger dictates.
The pimento cheese horse is a fun and popular Kentucky Derby food. By pouring the pimento cheese in a food processor, it will be much more moldable for the host to create food in the shape of horses. Raw vegetables surrounding the cheese can also help to portray a Derby-like scene.
Country ham and biscuit sandwiches are another Kentucky Derby party favorite. The host can place a whole ham on a carving board and allow guests to cut off their own portions or create the portions in advance. It’s important to place a few different options for biscuit spreading either way.
Setting up a drink station is also a good idea to keep foot traffic flowing smoothly. While the mint julep will likely be the most popular drink with its ingredients of bourbon, fresh mint, sugar, water, and ice, be sure to provide guests with several other options. This should include mixed drinks as well as drinks that come in individual bottles or cans such as wine coolers, beer, or soda.
Play a Kentucky Derby Trivia Game Before the Race Starts
Any event that has not missed a year since 1875 is sure to have plenty of trivia associated with it. Preparing a trivia game in advance and then playing it shortly before the guests arrive is a great way to get everyone in the frame of mind for the race. The host should refrain from playing, however, since this person already knows all the answers.
With less than one month to go until the May 4, 2019 race day, now is the time to get in gear with planning a Kentucky Derby party.