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Kentucky Derby Party Ideas

Known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports” the Kentucky Derby is a world-renowned race for thoroughbred horses, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky. If you are not one of the lucky ones who will be watching from Churchill Downs on May 6, get your friends together, dress up, and indulge in some of Louisville’s classics (chocolate bourbon pie anyone?). Whether your peeps are avid racing fans or “here for the drinks” kinds of guests - we’ve rounded up our top tips to help you throw an unforgettable Kentucky Derby party. From what to wear to the perfect menu and entertainment, read on to find out how to make your party an annual tradition.

Dress the Part

The Kentucky Derby is known for its glamorous and fashionable attire, so make sure to encourage your guests to dress their best. From big hats to bow ties, the more flamboyant the better! We love Town & Country's best list.

Mint Julep Tasting

The mint julep is the iconic drink of the Kentucky Derby, so make sure to have plenty on hand. A mint julep is made of three ingredients: bourbon, simple syrup, and mint leaves.  Bourbon, not your thing? Challenge your crew to create their own interpretation of a Julep and start your party with a tasting. Check out some of our favorite alternatives here.

Taste the South

Transport your guests to Churchill Downs and serve up the best of classic southern cuisine: fried chicken, biscuits, grits, and bourbon are crowd favorites (and for good reason!). Check out these classic Derby recipes compiled by Instacart.

Run a Sweepstake

What fun is it when the whole room is cheering on “the favorite”? Up the ante and create a pool that will have everyone on the edge of their seats, using Collctiv’s trusty generator.

Here’s how it works: everyone chips in some cash and gets assigned a horse at random. Simply enter the names and emails of your party people below (the more, the merrier) and you’re all set. When post time comes around, all you and your guests need to do is sit back, sip on your favorite cocktail, and root for your horse to win.

Keep the Party Going

Did you know the “Kentucky Derby” is a single race, and only lasts for about 2 minutes? It doesn’t start until 6:45 PM EDT, which means you and your gang have plenty of time before and after to get in the Derby spirit. Lawn games are great this time of year. What is better than a game of cornhole, bocce ball, and, (definitely in this case) horseshoes with a mint julep in hand? Start a collection with your friends, jump on Amazon, and fill up your cart so the Kentucky Derby entertainment is sorted for years to come.

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