Celebrate Derby Day in Style

Plan a classy equestrian-style party with mint juleps, mouthwatering food and fancy hats.

Related To:

Planning a derby day celebration this May? 

We'll help you host an unforgettable private affair this spring centered on horses, gorgeous hats and, of course, Southern food and bourbon. Following are some of our favorite party ideas to celebrate the thrill of gorgeous spring weather, equestrian competition and the perfect excuse to put on your fanciest duds.

Churchill Downs Garden Spires

Churchill Downs Garden Spires

Churchill Downs Garden Spires

Photo by: Kentucky Derby/Churchill Downs

Kentucky Derby/Churchill Downs

kentucky derby, churchill downs, sports, outdoor and adventure, horses, kentucky oaks, mint julep

kentucky derby, churchill downs, sports, outdoor and adventure, horses, kentucky oaks, mint julep

Woman drinks a mint julep at Kentucky Oaks day.

Photo by: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Equestrian Decor

Equestrian Style Baby Shower Table Setting

Equestrian Style Baby Shower Table Setting

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Set the table with your best dishes, medallion ribbons and boots filled with red roses to commemorate the traditional garland of roses.

See More Details of This Equestrian-Style Party

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Equestrian Chic

A color scheme of black, brown and hunter green set against classic equestrian elements helped us create a unisex baby shower packed with elegance. When decorating in the equestrian style, it's best to use the sport of horse racing as inspiration. From the tailored, athletic look of equestrian fashion to the handsome coats of thoroughbreds, there are plenty of ways to incorporate elements of horse racing into your own soiree.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Writing Desk

A traditional, dark-stained oak drop-leaf writing desk helps enhance the hunter green, brown and black colors, resulting in a warm, cozy aesthetic.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Collected Centerpiece

Centerpieces offer endless opportunities to experiment with equestrian style. Here, a mismatched grouping of horse accessories was used to create a collected tablescape consisting of leather horse figures, brass horse head bookends, vintage leather bound books and horse racing post cards. Since most party supply stores carry disposable decor that will not fit the timeless, tailored equestrian look, it's smart to search vintage stores, flea markets and auction sites to find affordable accents that look a bit more high-end. 

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn


Cloches are must-haves for stylists and visual merchandisers; they're an excellent way to prominently display single objects. To help the brass horse heads stand out as features, each was isolated into its own glass cloche and then accented with decorative moss. The best places to look for cloches are antique stores or showrooms specializing in commercial display systems. See how to make a cloche centerpiece

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Horse and Pony Figures

For a sophisticated and playful touch, consider using a mix of horse and pony figures as part of your tablescape. Here, a variety of vintage figures made of cast resin, plastic and bound leather help bring the equine motif front and center. The key to grouping mismatched figures together correctly is to ensure a range of widths and heights united with similar colors.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Leather Book Risers

A range of heights plays a large part in the successful design of a tablescape. Rather than using basic acrylic or glass risers, consider using leather-bound and/or equestrian-related hardback books. This allows an opportunity to play up the shower's color scheme while also helping differentiate heights.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Medallion Ribbon Swags

Make your seating award worthy with medallion ribbon chair swags. These can be found online, and to outfit them as swags, simply add a single safety pin along the back of each ribbon. Then attach it to a slipcover. If the existing chairs aren't fit for slipcovers, the medallion ribbons can also be attached with double-sided tape and/or nylon rope wrapped around the chair backs.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Mismatched Brass

Polished brass is commonly found in horse racing in the form of metal cup trophies. Incorporate elements of brass in a new fashion with a mismatched grouping of candlestick holders. This offers another opportunity to enhance the palette by choosing candlesticks in coordinating colors.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Stitched Plaid Napkins

Both Hamptons style and the work of Ralph Lauren are indicative of equestrian and country club aesthetics. Bring that tailored, fashion-inspired touch to your shower with stitched plaid fabric napkins. Pick fabric up by the yard from a local fabric store. Then drop it off with a local drycleaner, and ask for a quote to have their in-house sewing professional cut and stitch the fabric into 10"x10" square napkins with a contrasting thread.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Tree Ornament

Holiday tree ornaments make for excellent napkin rings. Once the holiday season approaches, search for horse-shaped ornaments in metallic finishes. To outfit them for tabletop use, loop three inches of grosgrain ribbon through the attached eyelet, and tie in a knot.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Vintage Brass Silverware

Search vintage stores and flea markets for brass flatware in a range of finishes and styles. Then use the mismatched pieces to add personality to your place settings.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Gift Table

To bring equestrian style to a gift table, consider grouping brass cup trophies along a pedestal table, paired with leather accents and a grouping of horse figures. As far as floral options go, keep in mind that red roses are a classic choice often bestowed to the winners at horse racing events. And since red and green are complementary colors, the roses are likely to pop more against a green backdrop.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Baby Shoes

If holding a baby shower like we were, add a touch of baby to your gift table with cast metal baby shoes. A single nod to the little-one-to-be goes a long way.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Leather Riding Boot Floral Vessels

Put old leather riding boots to work as floral vessels by reinforcing their interiors with flexible vinyl placemats formed into conical shapes. Then place long cylindrical vases inside of each boot. Get the rest of the step-by-step instructions

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Classic Plates

Since the equestrian aesthetic is all about timeless high style, stick with plates in classic colors with contrasting rim detail. Black, white and gold are sure to mix well with just about any accent color; plus the plates can be used again and again for different gatherings.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Pin the Jockey on the Thoroughbred

Bring a fresh twist to the classic game of pin the tail on the donkey with pin the jockey on the thoroughbred. To make this project, pick up 3/4" inch wooden dowels and coordinating finials and two yards of colored felt for a backdrop. Next, grab several sheets of felt in fun accent colors, glue sticks and a hot glue gun to create the jockeys and the thoroughbred. Cut the backdrop felt to the intended size for your baby shower, and then secure the fabric to the wooden dowels with hot glue sticks. Next, add finials to the ends of the top and bottom dowels, and attach sisal twine along the top dowel for easy hanging. Trace silhouettes of jockeys, one thoroughbred and horse racing accessories to the sheets of felt. Then assemble them with hot glue. And for a final equestrian touch, forego bandanas altogether, and instead, add black felt inside of jockey goggles. Hold it in place with black electrical tape. Hang your creation, and let the games begin! Download the rest of the instructions

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Derby Centerpiece

Kentucky Derby party centerpiece

Your Derby Party is Ready

Perhaps add white, red and green linens and place settings for the finishing touch to your centerpiece.

Photo by: Melissa Caughey

Melissa Caughey

Create your own floral arrangement to center the table using red roses, mint, greenery and a horse figurine.

Make Your Own Centerpiece

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Kentucky Derby Party Centerpiece

This centerpiece will steal the show at your Kentucky Derby Party.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

Gather Supplies

A quick trip to the local grocery store and craft store will get you started.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

Create the Base

Trim the floral foam with a knife to fit snugly inside the planter. If necessary, to keep it from floating up, wedge a few smaller pieces of foam into the sides or use some floral tape. Next add some water.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

Add Some Greens

Trim and add the greens of your choice around the outside of the arrangement.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

Work From the Outside

Trim the rose stems and closely arrange them, working from the outside of the arrangement to the center.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

Blanket of Roses

Fill the entire arrangement with roses, trimming the stems as necessary.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

Lasso the Horse

Cut approximately 12 inches of floral wire and wrap this around the mid-section of the horse. Twist it tightly a few times.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

Recycle a Rose Stem

Use a discarded rose stem to serve as a dowel. Wrap the wire around the stem tightly then place the horse in the center of the arrangement.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

Conceal the Wire and Add Mint

Trim a small piece of ribbon and hot glue it into place over the floral wire on the horse's back. Tuck in the sprigs of mint around the outside of the arrangement. Then add more water to the arrangement as needed.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

Your Derby Party is Ready

Perhaps add white, red and green linens and place settings for the finishing touch to your centerpiece.

Photo By: Melissa Caughey

DIY Derby Hat

You don't need to spend a fortune on a big hat for the occasion. Transform an inexpensive beach hat in three easy steps.

Make it: Derby Day Hat

Classic Mint Julep



©She-n-He Photography

She-n-He Photography

Mix up a batch of the legendary cocktail to serve guests in a silver-plated cup. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Deviled Potatoes

Make Deviled Potatoes

Deviled Potatoes

Make Deviled Potatoes

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

This tasty appetizer that meshes deviled eggs with potato skins is the perfect complement to your Southern affair.

Bourbon-Infused Dressing


Kentucky Food Truck salad with bourbon bacon ranch dressing from Chop't Salad Specialists.

Kentucky Food Truck salad with bourbon bacon ranch dressing from Chop't Salad Specialists.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Chop't

Image courtesy of Chop't

Bourbon is not just for your cocktails. Whip up this bourbon bacon ranch dressing to top a salad or dip veggies.

Shrimp and Grits

For the main course, offer a Southern classic — a plate of shrimp and grits.

Yummy Pie

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Bourbon Pecan Pie

And for dessert, present this heavenly bourbon pecan pie that's sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

More Party Fare

Enchanting Rose Garden Cupcakes

Welcome spring with these charming, chocolatey treats presented in terra-cotta flower pots.

Apple Rose Tart

This gorgeous dessert is Valentine's Day perfection.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

Take a hands-off approach to barbecue chicken with this easy and delicious slow cooker recipe.

Derby Landscaping

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Meet the horticulture team behind one of the most extravagant events around.

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