Run for the Roses: Kentucky Derby Party

The Kentucky Derby is the perfect occasion to round up some friends for a day filled with big hats and bowties, mint juleps, and a little gambling. I teamed up with Meghan of Elva M. Design Studio to bring you tons of ideas to host a gathering including free printables!

A Bow Tie Dinner Affair

The “most exciting 2 minutes in sports,” as they say, kicks off at 6:46 ET, so it’s the perfect time to host a fancy dinner party before or after the race. Have your guests come in their Derby best and treat them to a festive table.

Meghan and I ran with the “Run for the Roses” theme and started with a glitzy red tablecloth that I got at Target a few years ago. You can order a similar one from Amazon and I promise you’ll find lots of uses for a red tablecloth! Then, we layered on a black and white striped runner from Amazon. I made this DIY centerpiece with Dollar Tree roses and toy horses spray painted gold. The full tutorial is available here. Meghan had some awesome grass mats from her Easter table, so we added in a couple more of the horses to complete the centerpiece.


The place settings consist of gold chargers, white plates, and red linen napkins tied in the shape of bow ties using some black and white striped craft ribbon. Meghan made some adorable gold horse cutouts and we attached those to the ribbon.

Bow tie red linen napkins with black and white ribbon make a perfect addition to a Kentucky Derby place setting.

What’s a fancy table setting without some fun place cards and classy drinks?! We used Mason jar glassware and decorated them with horse cutouts, paper straws with festive flags, and a themed place card.

Kentucky Derby mint julep sangria in Mason Jar glasses.

If you are looking for a fun, no fuss, dessert, try picking up these mini pies from Walmart. They come in several delicious flavors and are only $.50 a piece! Add some of the printable flags to toothpicks and you have instant festive treats!


Pony Up to the Bar

A mint julep and the Kentucky Derby go hand-in-hand, but we wanted to put a spin on an old favorite. We settled on a Pineapple Mint Julep Sangria and it was delicious! It was my first attempt at making simple syrup from scratch and you even add mint for a little more flavor! Check out the full recipe on A Farmgirl’s Dabbles.  

The drinks will go down easy, so we recommend putting together a charcuterie board for guests to snack on during the party!


There's nothing I love more than decorating our bar space! You might remember the fun March Madness bar I setup using more of Meghan's awesome printables!

To create the bar, we used another red tablecloth folded up to make a runner. To add some dimension and height, we used a wooden crate from Michaels and a wooden cubbie on either side of the bar. On the left side, we stocked it up with fun red and white striped favor bags complete with cute “Thank You” tags designed by Meghan. To seal the bags, we used some Equestrian themed stickers I picked up at Michaels that I spray painted gold. This was an easy way DIY to get stickers in the shape and color scheme we wanted.

Favor tags for your Kentucky Derby party by Elva M. Design.

We topped off the crate with Meghan’s adorable 8x10 sign and a vintage trophy filled with paper straws. I picked up both trophies at a local antique shop for about $4 total! Don’t forget about shopping vintage when on the hunt for party décor! UPDATE: These printables have been updated and can be used for any year!


On the right side of the bar, we setup a little gambling station. Meghan designed some betting slips that will be perfect for your guests to wager on the winning horse. The mini trophies filling in the other cubbies were another Dollar Tree find!

Make sure you guests take bets on who will win the Kentucky Derby!

We topped off the bar with another one of Meghan’s fun signs that fit perfectly into Ikea TOLSBY frames and a Derby themed banner. These frames are so cheap and I use them all of the time!

Kentucky Derby bar setup and signage.

Meghan also made some DIY giant paper roses to place on the shelves along with the large gold glitter horse cutout pictured above. For the full scoop on Meghan’s DIY projects and to download all of the printables featured in this party for FREE, visit her blog! She is definitely one to follow!

Setup a themed bar for your Kentucky Derby party!

We had so much fun putting this party together! I’d love to hear about your Derby traditions in the comment section below! If you don’t have any traditions yet, this is the year to start!

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Dazzle your guests with a festive Kentucky Derby dinner party. Click her for DIY decor ideas, food and drink recipes, and a link to the coordinating free printables! #kentuckyderby #derbyday #runfortheroses #diypartydecor #dinnerparty #partythemes

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