Tradition and Thoroughbreds Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

The first weekend in May means it is Kentucky Derby time!

Kentucky Derby by Rifle Paper Co.

Kentucky Derby by Rifle Paper Co.

Kentucky Derby party ideas revolve around traditions, red roses, mint juleps and fascinating fascinators.

Pat Day at Churchill Downs

Pat Day Statue at Churchill Downs


mint julep bow tie

Horse racing reigns supreme in Louisville, and for nearly a century the Early Times Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.

Mint Julep Cup

Horse racing enthusiasts, socialites and celebrities will flock to Churchill Downs this Saturday to view the Run for the Roses, marvel at the traditional Kentucky Derby hats on parade, and to taste a traditional Kentucky Derby Early Times Mint Julep.


I like to pick up several nickle-plated serving trays from Dollar Tree in various styles to serve mint juleps and appetizers on.

Churchill Downs Race Coming down the homestretch

Coming Down the Homestretch 

For extra Run for the Roses Derby flair, I clip several roses from front yard flower bed and place on the trays.


No real roses?

No real problem.

Faux rose bouquets work too!

The Gray Barn Jartop Polystone Horse Head Sculpture

The Gray Barn Jartop Polystone Horse Head Sculpture


In  honor of tradition and thoroughbreds, I present to you the Kentucky Derby Early Times Mint Julep recipe served proudly at Churchill Downs.

The Early Times Mint Julep


2 cups sugar

2 cups water

6-8 sprigs of fresh mint

crushed ice

2 ounces Early Times Kentucky Bourbon

Silver Julep Cups (optional, but highly recommended for the full Kentucky Derby traditional experience).


Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight.

Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Bourbon.

Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup.

Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Kentucky Derby 

jalapeno-spiked-bourbon-julep-recipedelish ~ photography by Grant Cornett

Traditional with a twist always works!

This Jalapeño-Spiked Bourbon Julep takes first place.

kentucky derby party ideasThe Stakes Horseshoe Frame


Stirrup Hors d’oeuvre Forks


The Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich, a Kentucky original recipe created in 1926 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, is a perfect Derby Day menu choice.

This recipe from SheKnows plates turkey, bacon, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes and a heavy-handed dollop of bechamel sauce together in all its delicious, rich and Kentucky tradition glory.

Click HERE for recipe.

I’ve got four words for you.





Recipe from The Recipe Rebel found HERE.



Roses and Horseshoes + Mint Juleps = Derby Day celebration must haves.

These cotton napkins from Horse and Hound Gallery are an equestrian equation of epic and proper proportion.


mint-julep-cocktail-napkinsroses-KrogerI like several small arrangements of cut roses vs. one large centerpiece.

A combination arrangement of red and white roses perfectly fits in with the Run for the Roses motif.


I like to incorporate the traditional aspects of horse racing into my Kentucky Derby party ideas.

The pair of vintage English riding boots I purchased from one of my favorite antique malls in Maryville, Tennessee have sadly been misplaced.

a.n.a Womens Torrance Riding Boots Block Heel

a.n.a Womens Torrance Riding Boots Block Heel

May is a great time of the year in retail sales to locate a pair of riding boots on sale or clearance.

These a.n.a Womens Torrance Riding Boots will work perfect in my Kentucky Derby party ideas scheme.

Saturday’s centerpiece will become my new fall fashion boots.

Now that’s getting your money’s worth.

Oliver Gal Artist Co. White Stallion Canvas Wall ArtOliver Gal ‘Jockey Still Life’ Sports and Teams Wall Art Canvas Print 

The black velvet equestrian riding helmet will tie it all together.

Kentucky Derby Party Ideas Checklist:


Diamond Plain Bronco Horseshoe, Size 0, Pack of 4

Horseshoe nut or dip bowl

Arthur Court Equestrian Horseshoe bowls

Arthur Court Equestrian Horseshoe Bowls (Set of 3)

Red roses scrapbook paper in 12×12 sheets found at craft stores make perfect Run for the Roses placemats


Fresh or faux roses

red knockout roses


Red Spiky Rose Trim-Tulle

faux rose bouquet

Mint julep cups

mint julep cups set

Fresh mint clippings


Dollar store trays



Nickel plated horse bits to use as napkin rings

mouth bit for horse

Strategically placed horse accent(s)

natural spirited horse decor accent

Natural Spirited Horse Accent

Now you’ve got a win, place and show-stopping tablescape.


Love your style!





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