ince 1875, The Kentucky Derby has been bringing us “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, and while many people will head to Churchill Downs to enjoy one of the oldest sporting events, soak up the culture of elaborate hats, and dance to “My Old Kentucky Home while sipping on a Mint Julep, the rest of us ordinary folk will be planning our own Derby parties at home. And that doesn’t mean they can’t be equally as fabulous. So sit back, and scroll through this simple list of must-haves are your very own Kentucky Derby gathering (because “gathering” is just so much more adult than “party”).


Let’s be honest, people may come for the party, but they stay because of the food. You can’t have a successful Derby party without these traditional fare recipes.

Kentucky Hot Brown Sliders

Country Ham and Biscuits

Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie

And just because we’re obsessed…

Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Bourbon Balls


If you know nothing else about the Kentucky Derby, know this: The mint julep is the iconic drink of choice at the Kentucky Derby, and it’s traditionally served in a silver cup. And it’s delicious.

Classic Mint Julep

Mint Julep with a twist (peach!)

Island Iced Tea

Bourbon Smash

Whiskey Sours


The official nickname for the Kentucky Derby is “Run for the Roses,” so decorating with this classic flower is a no-brainer. But you could also really go for it and pull out the red carpet with a “Millionaires Row Theme.” Use silk tablecloth to represent the Jockey’s racing jersey – the more colorful, the better. You can use a trophy cup as a centerpiece, fill the cup with rose petals, or scatter them around the center of the table.

Get free printables from Hostess with the Mostess and other great DIY ideas to really sell your theme. Remember, attention is in the details. So whatever you do, just think “what would a southern belle or gentleman do,” and do that. For a little added detail, consider framing the music sheet for “My Old Kentucky Home,” the official song of the Kentucky Derby. And don’t forget that one of the great joys of the Kentucky Derby is betting! Check out these betting sheets by CreationsByDeven on Etsy


Of course, you’ll have to dress the part – in formal attire and ask your guests to do the same. Exchange rose boutonnieres and corsages and definitely take votes on “Best Hat,” “Most Creative Hat,” or “Best Dressed.”

Ladies, here’s some inspiration for your Derby day outfit

Sleek and sophisticated in all-black

Make a statement

Keep it classic

Throwback vintage

The bigger, the better

Gentlemen, don’t think we forgot about you:

Dapper suit inspiration

Head-to-toe guide for classic derby dress

Don’t underestimate the power of a pocket square

Remember, if all else fairs, sport a bowtie

Scroll to top