How To Host a Backyard Kentucky Derby Party This Year

Feeling lucky? Gather your closest lilies and phillies for a few bets. Backyard style. The 147th Kentucky Derby will run on Saturday, May 1, with limited attendance. Hosting your own Derby Party will be a little trickier, as you try to manage safe, vaccinated gatherings. But we love a good challenge.

Smaller guest lists are sometimes a good thing. And although not gathering in the clubhouse — you can’t reign us in when it comes to celebrating what we can. So why not the Derby?

We can ride around our own backyards and dream of one day being in Churchhill Downs. Until then, add a fascinator and you’ve got a pretty favorable reason for some social-distanced fun.

Here’s how to keep it classic.

Invitations make it a party. Pick your closest crew and make it mailbox official with these proper little invites. Now, who can play the bugel horn?

via Etsy

Let the games begin. These are an easy way to get the kiddos involved. And to keep them busy while you mix up a cocktail. Parents know.

It’s all about the cocktails, really. Liberate Your Palate’s take on the classic ‘Oaks Lily’ is the perfect shade of pink. Make a few of these to get the party started:

Oaks Lily (Recipe for 1 cocktail)

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 4 raspberries
  • 3 ounces cranberry juice
  • Garnish: blackberries


  1. Muddle the raspberries and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add all of your other ingredients ( minus the blackberries) and ice.
  3. Shake vigorously until chilled
  4. Strain over ice into your drinking class

Don’t mind if we do.

This locally made simple syrup looks delicious. Have a few bottles on hand for those handcrafted cocktails. Bottles of these would be great party favors as well. You. Are. Welcome.

BOURBON TASTING, blind or not. The official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby is Woodford Reserve. We suggest a full bourbon tasting table – Willett, Elijah Craig, Jefferson’s…line them up. Choices are hard.

Don’t have time to polish your silver julep cups? These or these for backyard themed vibes. Winners know all the short-cuts.

Set the scene. Throw a few of these pillows around and transform that neutral patio set into comfy seating. Guests will be able to use them to swat away anyone that comes too close. Bonus.

Set the stage with simple elegance with minimal effort. Snip a bunch of lucky Jasmine and rest in any large vessel. Trophies for everyone.

via Pony Parties

They say The Kentucky Derby is the most exciting ‘two minutes in sports’. We say invite the ponies to hang around longer. Pony rides in your backyard for the come-from-behind win. When was the last time you rode?

Dressed and ready for show? You bet. Fashion never stops. Here’s a little something we can all agree would win the field. KK Bloom for the perfect hostest-with-the-mostest regalia.

Shake up the field altogether and be the standout. It’s called the “Run for the Roses” after all. Never be like the rest.

All the fillies have potential for a good show. Get yours dressed in all the right duds. We personally swoon for the classic seersucker suit.

When was the last time you ordered a fascinator? or a big, flowery, oversized hat? Well, order another one. These are budget friendly and super fancy.

Serve up some light fare. Salads can be easily portioned-out in individual cups, mason jars, compotes for the group. And this one is soaked in mint and lime infused simple syrup. Yep. That’s right.

If you do one thing, make these hot browns. Baked together but pulled apart for safe serving — they melt in your mouth. It’s like some sort of delicious derby magic. Make plenty — they go fast.

Sweets for your sweets and at the Derby. Derby Pie made extra adorable. This year make mini versions for safe serving. Tradition – updated.

More of a cake gal? Finish the race with dessert done right. Southern Bourbon pound cakes baked right here in the queen city and made with Basil Hayden’s. Drooling emoji goes to Takes The Cake ladies. Brava!

Now, off to the races, girls. The Triple Crown is ours for the taking. Especially in The Crown City.

Everyone at their starting gate.


Angela Williams
A writer in Charlotte trying to shop and eat at all the places.