Anyone that has lived in Kentucky knows the pomp and circumstance of the Kentucky Derby. This special day can seem out of reach for the common Kentuckian, but it doesn’t have to be. Gathering your closest friends and family to eat, drink, and celebrate the Bluegrass can be a perfect way to cheer on your favorite jockey and horse duo. KB has been fortunate enough to work on two different Derby themed events. Below you will find amazing recipes, decoration ideas, and one of our favorite guest favors.
When we think of the Kentucky Derby we think red roses, gold horseshoes, and green grasses. For our first Derby party we used navy tablecloths paired with moss runners and gold chargers. We purchased horseshoes from The Tractor Supply Company and spray painted them gold. Our red napkins came from World Market and they complimented the gold and red arrangements perfectly. Bold red roses in gold vases gave us that traditional Derby look along with some sparkle. We planted mint plants into terracotta pots for each guest to take home and enjoy. Originally we had planned on arranging these at each place setting, but we didn’t have enough space. Instead we used an area over on another table and created a forest of mint for guests to enjoy. We arranged the tables in a horseshoe shape, no pun intended, and put the food on a circle table in the center. We rented gold silverware so that each place setting would match. We used a vendor out of Nashville, but now there are local vendors offering these items. White plates were the perfect accompaniment to all our decorations for a clean look. The tables left guests with plenty of room to chat, eat, and enjoy their morning together.
When hosting a Derby party, the food must be racing day ready. For our Derby brunch we offered Hot Brown Sliders, hash brown casserole, fruit salad, Mint Julep cupcakes, Derby pies, and tea cookies. The Hot Brown Sliders recipe was so simple and a hit with our guests. This recipe combines the delicious flavor of a hot brown with simple ingredients that will serve a large number of guests. The fact that you can prepare them the night before makes it even better. The hash brown casserole is our mother-in-law's go to family favorite. This dish will fill your guests up on a moderate budget. You can also prepare this recipe the night before and just pop it into the oven. Our favorite fruit salad recipe includes fresh fruit and vanilla pudding mix. We recommend you mix this up the afternoon before so the flavor can marinate through the night. In the morning mix your fruit around in the liquid and add fresh sliced bananas.
For dessert we offered Riley’s Bakery tea cookies and The Pie Queen mini Derby pies. Guests went crazy for these two local treats. Individualized desserts are really popular and easy to clean up. We also baked Mint Julep cupcakes. The icing on these babies sent our guests into a sugar coma. Everyone commented how cute they were and how delicious they tasted. The recipe was easy to follow and made a perfect Derby display.
To top off our morning we had a special non-alcoholic Mint Julep lemonade. A simple sugar syrup recipe was a perfect sweet treat to go along with the savory brunch items. As always we offered ice water for guests who wanted to skip out on the sugary treat.
Our invitations were purchased on Etsy and we included a request for guests to dress up in Derby dress and hat. This dress code added to the whimsy and fun of the morning. We used a vintage trunk to store the ladies purses and jackets. This cute option allowed our guests to access their items in a fashionable way.
Not everyone can attend the Kentucky Derby, but with careful planning and preparation, everyone can enjoy this Kentucky born and bred tradition from their own home.
*Our second event for the Derby was a bridal shower where KB created the floral arrangements. All other decor was done by Brittanie Dawson.