Celebrations & Parties Dani's Blog: THE JUICE

10 Tips: A Kentucky Derby Celebration

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The Kentucky Derby is about a little less than month away and I am excited to share another installment of “10 Tips” for hosting a fun & fabulous party based on this theme. Hosting a brunch or happy hour and supper party would be super fun for the day of, but in the case of my friend Carrie, her bridesmaids suggested this theme as the basis for her bridal shower (which was not held on the actual day) and the results were fabulous!

1. Use the invite as an opportunity to get everyone excited: Since it was a bridal shower, we decided to take a more garden party approach rather than using actual race horses on the invite (but that could be cute too!). Just like at the Derby, everyone was super excited about wearing fabulous hats to the shower and we made certain the invite conveyed that. In addition to including a hat in the drawing, we also added “Big, Beautiful Derby Hats” to the suggested attire section.

Carrie fashion sketch shower invite detail
I drew a fashion sketch of Carrie in her hat and used glitter to embellish the ring

2. Cookie favors: Always my favorite favor, :), we baked and iced flower cookies on sticks to reinforce the girly garden party feel and also to add to the shower decor.

Sweet Dani B Custom Cookie Flowers on stick
I packaged these flower cookies "upside down" so the sticks stuck out of the cellophane bag. I added a leaf shaped tag to bring home the flower theme

3. Mint Julep Cups: A beautiful and classic vessel… I loved the way Carrie’s friend, Kim, arranged the cookie favors for impact. They looked beautiful, fit the theme perfectly and added to the decor. Be sure to order enough julep cups for favors and mint julip serving!

Carrie Favor Julip cups
I especially loved the jellybean "dirt"! (YUM)

 4. Flowers: The Kentucky Derby is at the perfect time of year to highlight beautiful, colorful, Spring flowers! If you have a garden go out and clip some to make it more personal.

Pink Garden Flower arrangements
Kim also arranged the flowers in a beautifully casual way... Each table featured 2 to 3 glass vessels with arrangements of one type of pink flower

 5. Round Balloons: There’s just something about the perfectly round balloon that takes balloon decorating to a more sophistocated level. I loved that Carrie’s bridesmaids used a few of these bright pink balloons around the room to add festiveness.

Round balloons
Using ribbon in place of string makes these balloons extra special!

6. Games: Obviously viewing the Kentucky Derby is the main event, so if hosting your party on the actual day, it would be crazy to pass up forming a game around it. Betting on the winning horse is a great angle (keep your bets to a quarter to keep betting just for fun)!  Giving awards on the best, biggest, most fabulous hats is another fabulous approach to a game like activity.

Carrie Shower Games
There were lots of fun games played at Carrie's shower! Games are great icebreakers, conversation starters and bring the socializing to the next level!

7. Words of Wisdom: This is something I recommend if your Kentucky Derby party is a bridal or baby shower. Place blank “Words of Wisdom” cards (inspired by the invite) next to a glass vessel and ask everyone to inscribe their advice for a happy marriage or for their best advice for new parents.

Words of Wisdom cards
Save your words of wisdom cards in a beautiful keepsake box or add them to your wedding shower photo album

8. Did somebody say “Big, Beautiful Derby hats”?! The hats added an amazing element to this party…

Carrie and her bridesmaids looking gorgeous in their hats!
Carrie and her bridesmaids looking gorgeous in their hats!


Hat with flowers


Striped wide brim hat
This striped beauty was one of my favorites!


White Sparkly and elegant hat
Sparkly and elegant


Carrie's Shower Hats
Floppy & fabulous


Me and Carrie in our hats
I was so excited to wear this flower hat that was made for me by my fabulously talented stylist friend, Robert Diamond

 9. Photo Props: As if the hats weren’t enough, just for fun I made a few signs to use as props. Posing for photos is so much more fun with a prop and it puts your subjects at ease.

Photo prop signs
Carrie jumped in to hold the heart in this shot!

10. Group shot! Some of my favorite photos of all time are group shots and I can not stress enough how happy you will be if you take the time to organize one (it does take some time and patience to gather and arrange everyone so warn your participants that you will need a few minutes). Its the kind of photo you will study and look at again and again. It will always bring you back to the fun of the day and the beauty of the moment where you all gathered together for a beautiful group smile.

Carrie's Shower Group shot
Not surprisingly, people in the street were stopping and staring while we organized this photo- Stunning!

I hope these “10 Tips” inspire you to host a Kentucky Derby themed party of your own. As you can see, this event inspires fun and fabulosity– all you need to do is add friends! Happy planning!  Xo Dani






About the author



Sweet Dani B is my small business and my mantra is Life Is Sweet! Both my business and life center around celebrating life’s occasions and making those occasions amazing. We design one-of-a-kind cookies, invitations, paper goods and pull them all together to deliver fabulous parties and events.

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