As we charge up the home stretch towards this year’s Kentucky Derby, I’m in full-fledged party mode! You can usually find me chomping at the bit to plan any kind of gathering, but there’s just something special about having my best girl friends over to celebrate the annual Run for the Roses.
I was so excited when I found these Kentucky Derby invitations from Tiny Prints because I love the shimmery mother-of-pearl sheen on the card! And you just know you’re in for something special when the card and envelope inviting you to the party are fabulous all on their own!
But you can’t have a Derby Day party without fantastic food and adorable activities to keep everyone occupied until you hear the starting bell, so I thought: “Why not create a party that’s traditional…with a twist?!”
So rather than your typical mint juleps and crust-less sandwiches for my lovely ladies, I’m infusing more Southern Style menu items into this Kentucky-inspired soiree. And let’s not forget that in addition to hats, cocktails and fashion statements, there are also some horses involved in the Derby, so I’ve renamed all of my dishes in honor of the athletes – each offering bears the name of a Derby winner from days gone by!
Here’s what I have in mind:
For something amazingly Kentucky-inspired to sip, I’m making “Bubbling Over’s (1926) Sparkling Bourbon Lemonade” for my guests to enjoy upon their arrival. Not everyone likes the distinct flavors of a mint julep but who doesn’t love lemonade?
I actually couldn’t decide between naming this drink after Bubbling Over or his successor, Whiskery (winner, 1927) but eventually nixed Whiskery because I am making a version without whiskey for the kids.
And since both variations contain club soda, Bubbling Over won by a non-alcoholic nose! This truly is the perfect drink to whip up as a family-friendly, non-alcoholic refreshment for any pint-sized or pregnant party goers in attendance!
When it comes to the main component of our ‘meal,’ nothing says Kentucky like fried chicken. But remember that this is traditional with a twist, so instead of a bucket of greasy fried chicken, I’m opting for a more figure-friendly, upscale ‘fried’ chicken that is actually buttermilk-soaked Panko and Parmesan crusted baked chicken tenders.
These “Mine That Bird (2009) Chicken Tenders” are crunchy and tangy on the outside and moist and juicy deliciousness on the inside!
What says Southern Style better than flaky buttermilk biscuits? Not only are these “I’ll Have Another (2012) Buttermilk Biscuits” amazing all by themselves, but they’re also the perfect vessel for guests who would rather have chicken biscuits! And yes, you will want another…and another…
Since the Derby is known as “The Run for the Roses,” what Southern dessert is more appropriate than vibrant, red and rosy “Winning Colors (1988) Red Velvet Cupcakes” for dessert?
Rather than your traditional cream cheese or butter cream frosting, I opted for a fantastically smooth and glossy twist.
I created my own Whipped Cream Cheese Glaze that makes these cupcakes ready for their photo finish!
These Tiny Prints cards inspired this entire Derby Day design: Check out the swirl of white and red in the roses at the top. Yes, I did replicate that ‘twist’ theme throughout from the delicacies to the décor!
The card’s rose is red on the outside and white on the inside just like my bouquet and my rose liner-wrapped red velvet cupcakes. It makes me feel like there’s a surprise hiding inside or something.
Oh wait, there IS a surprise! You’ll never believe that my rose bouquet isn’t real…I handmade each flower using these red cocktail napkins!
Here’s a quick photo tutorial of the process!
And they’ll never wilt so I can enjoy them long after the party. Which reminds me…
What festive gathering is complete without a fun party game? I’m always fascinated with the names that some of these owners come up with for these champion horses so I customized these Tiny Prints cards to facilitate a little game I like to call “Favorites: Hypothetical Horse Names.”
Hand out a game card and matching envelope to your guests. On the front of the card, write down your top submission – every guest only gets one, so make it a good one!
Here are some suggestions to start you off:
You can go for something Classically ancient like Apollo (1882), Leonatus (1883), or my personal favorite, and winner of the very first Derby, Aristides (1875).
I love giving animals “proper” names and these horses fit the bill: Lord Murphy (1879), Judge Himes (1903), Lieutenant Gibson (1900), Sir Huon (1906), and His Eminence (1901).
On the other end of the spectrum, how about something just plain fun or silly such as Behave Yourself (1921), Brokers Tip (1933), or Spend A Buck (1985).
Of course, you might want to name your hypothetical horse something intended to strike fear into the hearts of the other ponies in the pack like War Admiral (Triple Crown Winner, 1937), Assault (Triple Crown Winner, 1946), War Emblem (2002), Exterminator (1918), or Citation (Triple Crown Winner, 1948).
After you’ve settled on your top contender, turn the card over and write your name in the space below “And the Winner Is.”
Place the card inside the envelope and seal it up. Once everyone has submitted their names, designate someone to open the cards and read each name aloud. Be sure to use the envelope to block the name of the person written on the back and only read the horse names on the front. Everyone can vote on their favorite and when the winning horse name is selected, turn over the card to reveal the winner!
After that, get ready to watch “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” to find out the Derby’s actual horse winner. And you never know: We might see Secretariat’s (1973) 1:59 race record broken for the first time in 41 years! But even if we don’t, you and your guests are in for a real track treat with a Derby Day celebration like this one!
What types of treats and games are you planning for your Kentucky Derby gathering?
Rheney Williams specializes in all things that make a house a home. Whether she’s creating her latest DIY home decor pieces or planning the next themed party, Rheney is always looking for fresh inspirations to enhance the kitchen to the curb, and everything in between. Visit her blog rheneywilliams.com for more inspiration!