Just because you can't attend the big race in Kentucky doesn't mean you can't dress up, drink fancy drinks, and enjoy the Kentucky Derby right at home. There are tons of ways to celebrate the Kentucky Derby — and wearing a big hat is only the beginning.
Here's the benefit of the Kentucky Derby being in May: It's finally warm! Which means wearing a cute dress, doing up your hair, and wearing a ridiculously huge hat is totally acceptable in this weather. You can spend the day outside drinking mint juleps, playing horseshoes, or even go on a horseback ride with your friends. The Kentucky Derby can be an excuse to host your first summer cookout of the year before Memorial Day, with tons of comfort food and southern-style charm. This year the Derby is on May 5 and May 6, so you have double the chance of throwing a party on a warm summer day.
Now the race is all about betting, so that will have to be a part of your party as well! Even if you're broke, a small bet could be a fun way to kick off the festivities. Find other things to bet on — like who will host the next party, or a food item that you baked for the winner to take home. You can also provide the winners of your games and bets with gifts, and of course, traditional ribbons and roses galore.
So if you're ready to put all your Kentucky Derby style on display, here are a few ways to throw a Kentucky Derby party.
Wear a big hat.
Is it really the Kentucky Derby without the big hats?
And a sun dress.
The fluffier and floral-ier, the better!
Bet on a winner.
I mean, that’s kind of the point, right? Make a bet within your party on who will win the race. If you’re low on money, then bet something else — like candy!
Eat Kentucky inspired foods.
Calling all comfort food lovers! This oven-fried southern chicken with honey bourbon sauce by Half Baked Harvest is begging to attend your party. I mean, come on, just look at it.
Watch the race.
Tune in to the actual race, May 6 on NBC Sports starting at 11 a.m. EST.
Play some party games.
Before (or after) the big race, why not play some party games of your own? The Kentucky Derby site has a few to get you going!
Hang some Derby decorations.
Just because you’re not rooting for a specific sports team doesn’t mean you can’t decorate your place with sports paraphernalia! Dress up the place with derby-inspired decor with a special southern flare!
Drink mint juleps.
The drink of choice during the Kentucky Derby is a must for your party. Try this recipe by The Kitchn!
Or Kentucky bourbon.
The other drink of choice, because ... Bourbon.
Eat this Bourbon Pecan Pie.
Pecan pie is a Kentucky classic dish, since it was founded in Kentucky and all that. Make this Bourbon pecan pie with dark chocolate by Joy the Baker to get your Bourbon and pecan pie fix in.
Is all of this horse racing taking you back to your childhood dream? Then let this be your excuse to finally get that horseback riding lesson!
Have a photo booth!
Because every good party has a photo booth.
Play some Croquet.
That fancy dress and hat, paired with your mint julep, are craving to play a fancy game like this!
Or play horseshoes!
Another classic yard game that seems appropriate for Kentucky Derby shenanigans.
Hand out ribbons.
For the first, second, and third place winners of the bet, hand out some fancy ribbons just like the horses.
Give the winner roses!
The winning horse always gets roses, so make sure to give your winner of the day some roses!
Make party favors with Bourbon balls.
Give your guests some Kentucky love to-go! Make a huge batch of these bourbon balls by Averie Cooks.