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“A Night at the Derby” Kentucky Derby Party

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Kentucky derby fundraiser mason jar lights

Talk about “high style”! Is this bright yellow and champagne Kentucky Derby Party fundraiser fantastic or what? I am seriously in LOVE with the mason jar “chandelier” over the buffet.  And speaking of mason jars, they also look super cute embellished with festive drink tags, twine, and yellow stripey straws for the Mint Juleps served at the “Watering Hole”.

This “A Night at the Derby” celebration was actually a Boys & Girls Club Fundraiser designed by Meredith of MJ Paperie, but there are tons of super stylish ideas that could easily translate to any home Kentucky Derby party and beyond…from the clever lattice table backdrop embellished with Spanish moss for Southern charm – to some seriously gorgeous yellow floral arrangements! A Derby-inspired table of themed desserts included everything from adorable hat and bow sugar cookies and cupcakes to “Big Brown’s Banana Pudding Shooters”…so clever!

yellow kentucky derby fundraiser cupcakes

derby party fundraiser in yellow drinks and mason jars

derby party fundraiser in yellow bets and flowers

derby party fundraiser in yellow decor and food

derby party fundraiser in yellow party drink bar

kentucky derby party fundraiser dessert table in yellow

derby party fundraiser in yellow cake pops

derby party fundraiser in yellow cookies

derby party fundraiser in yellow banana pudding shooters

derby party fundraiser in yellow centerpieces

derby party fundraiser in yellow desserts and flowers

derby party fundraiser in yellow labels and horse decorations

derby party yellow flowers and drinks

kentucky derby fundraiser party with yellow decorations

kentucky derby fundraiser party guests


PARTY DETAILS, as told by Meredith

I was recently asked to style a local Boys & Girls Club Fundraiser at a private home and when given the stipulation that it had to be yellow, I jumped at the opportunity. I love yellow! The fundraiser was a “preview” to the organization’s larger black-tie affair in mid-April called “The Greatest Big Kid Celebration.” Jacqueline Kronk and her BGC member, Laylaa were paired up together and assigned the color yellow + a $10,000 pre-event goal for their team, so my mind started racing with themes involving the bright color. Laylaa just so happens to also be in the running for BGC “National Youth of the Year” so it clicked… we were going to “Place our Bets on Jacqueline + Laylaa” and host “A Night at the Derby!” Vote for Team Laylaa + Jacqueline, Greatest Big Kids in Town!

I started with a lattice backdrop from Lowe’s to mimic the fence surrounding the Churchill Downs racetrack. It was then draped with Spanish moss for added southern charm. I also used yellow seersucker fabric as an overlay to bring a preppy feel to the party. I love paper lanterns and the pop of color they offer- they were a perfect burst of yellow above the table. For the tabletop, I added white wooden crates to both ends previously purchased from JoAnns. They added height for a pleasing visual effect. The centerpiece to the table was a gorgeous 3-tiered, yellow cupcake stand donated by OliviaDru. Her shop is incredible. It was filled with cupcakes donated by Indulgence Pastry Shop & Café, each lined with darling, yellow & white striped cupcake bands monogrammed with an “L” for Laylaa and topped with a fondant bow-tie topper donated by Edible Details. Other items on the table included Oreo Truffle Pops, adorable derby-themed sugar cookies donated by The Cookie Jar (Seabiscuit’s Sugar Cookies), miniature Banana Pudding Parfaits in shot glasses (Big Brown’s Banana Pudding Shooters) and chocolate covered pretzels (Calvin Borel’s Chocolate-Covered Pretzels.) Additional accent pieces included plastic horses, white vintage-esque vases/pitchers from my daughter’s nursery and small, Arthur Court cheese domes and gorgeous tulip arrangements in mint julep cups donated by Polly McCarthy of Pollies Floral.

The bar ended up having a cute, bright, preppy feel to it. The actual bar was a white piece of furniture that already existed in the home. We moved it to the opening of the kitchen so guests would not enter into the kitchen where the helpers were. Above the bar, I hung yellow tissue-paper fans for added color. Atop the bar were “Run for the Roses” Martinis (Lemon Drop Martinis) red & white wine, mason jars for the “Mine that Bird” mint juleps and another tulip arrangement.

The local Hilton Garden Inn donated the food for the event and it was absolutely delicious. Items included Roasted Tomatillo & Jumbo Lump Crab Salsa with homemade tortilla chips, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with homemade pita chips, Peppadew Braised Shredded Beef Tenderloin Sandwiches, Pigs in a Blanket and Vegetable Eggrolls. The table was covered with bunched-up burlap intertwined with more yellow seersucker and another tulip arrangement in a mint julep cup was placed in the center. The food was absolutely delicious!

Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County is a welcoming place for all boys and girls. A safe place to be after school and during the summer. A fun place. A place to learn and grow. A place to develop ongoing relationships with caring adult role models. A place to explore a variety of programs and activities. A place to inspire and empower future community leaders. A place to call their own. A place of hope and opportunity. A positive place!



– Party Styling: MJ Paperie
– Photography: Hemmerlein Photography
– Floral Design: Poppies Floral by Polly McCarthy
– Food & Linen Donations: Hilton Garden Inn South Bend
– Yellow Seersucker Fabric Donation: Sweet Stitches 
– Yellow Cupcake Stand Donation: OliviaDru 
– Cupcake Donation: Indulgence Pastry Shop & Café
– Cupcake Topper Donation: Edible Details
– Derby-themed Sugar Cookies: The Cookie Jar
– Wooden Crates & Apothecary on Dessert Table: JoAnns Fabrics
– Lattice Backdrop: Lowe’s
– Seersucker Bow Ties: Kiwi and Kiki

By |2018-07-02T14:23:05-07:00April 26th, 2012|Kentucky Derby, Theme Parties|

About the Author:

Jennifer Sbranti is the founder of Hostess with the Mostess®, a creative living and party planning resource established in 2006. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Sonny, and daughters Macy (9) and Rylie (7). Sbranti’s work has been featured in media outlets such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, Real Simple, People, InStyle Weddings, and Extra! TV. She has designed creative content and unique live events for several well-respected brands, including Mattel, Coca-Cola, The Hershey Company, Toys”R”Us, Pottery Barn Kids, and Starbucks.


  1. MJ Paperie April 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    THANK YOU so much for the gorgeous feature! The vendors who participated were beyond generous. Much appreciated! It’s beautiful!

  2. Kelly April 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    This party is AMAZING! I’m in love with every detail. Great job!!

  3. Lisa M. April 26, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Everything looks beautiful! I especially love the layered pudding shots and yellow martinis!

  4. Joyness Sparkles April 27, 2012 at 6:39 am

    This party is gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing this one! :)

  5. Lydia- The Party Wagon April 27, 2012 at 7:34 am

    What a beautiful party and great cause! I love all of the yellow- and I especially love the beautiful cookies!! Fantastic!

  6. Tait Stangl April 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    cool post

  7. Windy City Novelties April 30, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I am absolutely in love with the hanging lights and the subtle yellow theme! It is classy yet casual. So perfect!

  8. Reece March 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    This is absolutely stunning! Love the ideas – must try this theme out this summer!

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