It’s easy to overlook the fact that the Kentucky Derby—with its high society vibe and silver cups of mint julep—first started out in the stables. So I thought a fun twist on the traditional fancy derby parties would be to bring it back to its roots. Let’s call it country—with an edge. As you can see below, the color scheme of red, green and black is traditional, but the rest is anything but!
I’m a northerner born and bred, but the southern charms of sweet tea and monograms have a special place in my heart. I whipped up a huge batch of authentic sweet tea with a recipe I found online (the secret is baking soda) and dressed up the drinks with their own horse ribbon-inspired name tags. Although the derby is known as the “Run for the Roses,” I think carnations are easier to work with when you want round, fluffy arrangements. Just cluster them together in any small container (I used vintage milk glass sugar bowls) and they’ll look super cute with minimal fuss. Baby’s breath is another budget-friendly bloom that gives you a lot of bang for your buck since it’s great for visually filling a lot of space. I put a bunch of these blooms into a mason jar wrapped with striped ribbon. Keeping it simple is key when using inexpensive flowers: use just one type of flower per arrangement (but use a lot of per flower type) for a lush, pretty display.
Pecan chocolate chip Derby pie is the traditional dessert, but these mini fruit pies are cuter (and store bought), especially when displayed on a whimsical cake stand. What’s more country than apple pie?
I love the idea of having a bunch of fresh mint at the drink station so guests can customize their iced tea or mint juleps. If you want to get fancier, place the pot of mint in a tin coffee can (the vintage ones are especially cool, or just take the wrapper off a new one) as a wink to the traditional bourbon and coffee. Long strands of mint cascading over the edge of the can gives the tabletop instant charm.
Want to make your own horse ribbon drink labels? It’s really easy! Here’s what you’ll need:
- card stock
- packing tape
- ribbon, various colors and widths to match your party’s color scheme
- large circle paper punch
Step 1: To start, decide how big you want the ribbon medallion to be, then trace a circle onto card stock. That will be the backing that you staple your loops of ribbon to, so make sure it’s small enough that it won’t show behind the medallion.
Step 2: Create a few loops with ribbon and pinch together in one hand, like I’m doing in the photo above. When you have two or three loops, staple them to the card stock, and continue until you’ve gone all the way around the circle.
Step 3: Next cut three “tails” of ribbon to hang down, and staple to the center of your circle. I used the red stripe ribbon for two of the tails and the thicker black striped ribbon for the center tail on the “sweet tea” version.
Step 4: Choose a font and type your drink names into a word processing document (I used Meddon, a free Google font) leaving enough space between since you’ll be cutting out the labels with the large circle punch. Center the drink names in the window of the paper punch and pop them out. Use scotch tape or clear packing tape to affix the label to the center of the ribbon medallion. I used the same clear packing tape on the center back of the finished ribbons to stick them to the drink dispenser and juice bottle, and they stayed on for hours even while the glass was sweating
If you’re planning on games, these could also be award ribbons. They’d make great photo props for party shots!
I’ve had so much fun putting together this country-chic Kentucky Derby party and hope you can use some of these ideas to throw your own fabulous party on May 2!
Amanda from The Mom Edit