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Preppy & Playful “Dapper Derby” First Birthday Party

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kentucky derby party ideas

Party SHOP Member Kelly Lyden of WH Hostess designed this Preppy & Playful “Dapper Derby” First Birthday Party! She did such a phenomenal job of running with this theme: trophy cup vases, jockey crayons, custom pony lattice pattern pillows, prize ribbon cookies and more derby inspired decorations! P.S. I love Kelly’s tips for repurposing items you may already have to celebrate the race on May 3-4th!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Southern Style Drinks: Lemonade, Ice Tea and Mint Juleps
  • INCREDIBLE trophy topped cake with haberdashery stripe and pony lattice patterns by Cakes by Gina!
  • Pie Pops, Bow Tie Blueberry Cupcakes, Macarons and Yellow Cake Pops
  • Kids Horse Race (with adorable stick ponies) and Prize Ribbon Backdrop
  • Bubble Favors and Chocolate Horse Lollipops

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PARTY DETAILS, as told by Kelly

When it came time to help one of my favorite Houston clients plan her son’s first birthday party, we tossed around quite a few classic boy themes.  After much deliberation, a “Dapper Derby” theme was born and guests were invited to “Derby Day at the Addison Downs”.

With a crisp color palette of blue, yellow and green, it was a perfect theme where we could combine “dapper” elements from a little man theme (bow ties and haberdashery stripes), #1 prize ribbons from a horse race theme, and southern traditions such as mint juleps and trophy cups from the classic Kentucky Derby.

This party contains the perfect combination of southern charm and playful, preppy decor, appealing to both the adults and children in attendance.  And I believe there are tons of inspiring ideas that you could use to host your own Derby party to celebrate the race on May 3-4th. WH Hostess designed all of the coordinating paper goods, fabric and Cake Plate Clings, giving the party a cohesive look.

Upon arriving at the party, guests were greeted with a balloon-lined path.  The balloons were custom-printed with our horse silhouette, and a coordinating welcome sign hung at the front door.  A luscious arrangement of yellow and white blooms stood grandly in the foyer, arranged in a white “trophy cup” urn.  The floral arrangement was surrounded by photos of Cameron’s first year.  Blue, yellow and green poms hung off the chandelier above.

Guests made their way into the great room, where tables were set up with white Chivari chairs, layered green and yellow tablecloths, and gorgeous flower arrangements in silver trophy cups.  Mini versions of the white Chivari chairs sat around the kids’ table.  A custom table runner made from WH Hostess’s exclusive pony lattice fabric was edged with grosgrain ribbon and white tassel garland, and sat atop a crisp white tablecloth.  Three bucket centerpieces held grass plants surrounded by roses, and coordinating centerpiece sticks featuring a trophy cup, horse and lucky horse shoe.  Each placesetting had a prize ribbon coloring page, along with a cello bag of crayons (the topper read “jockey crayons”), and a drink in a covered mason jar.  Colorful poms hung from the chandelier in the great room, and the fireplace was adorned with julep cup floral arrangements, and a custom garland of braided ribbons and an oversized “prize ribbon”.

These decorations were repeated in the outdoor living room, along with the addition of throw pillows made from our custom pony lattice and haberdashery stripe fabrics.  A “trough” of wheat grass sat on the coffee table, along with mini toy horses that we spray-painted in our pop colors of yellow, blue and green.

The kids were entertained with pony rides, a bounce house and an old-fashioned horse race.  Custom stick ponies were made in the party’s signature color palette, and the kids had fun racing to the finish line!  One of my favorite details of the day was the custom prize ribbon backdrop.  We crafted each of the prize ribbons by hand, featuring our custom patterns, ribbons and medallions that included “C”, “#1”, “Derby Day at the Addison Downs”, etc. The backdrop hung on the fence in the backyard, so people could take photos in front of it.  Felt bow tie sticks were on hand for people to use as a prop.  And when it came time for Cameron’s smash cake, his high chair was placed in front of the backdrop, framing his cute little face perfectly!

The bar was set up along the kitchen’s long island, featuring drinks served in mason jars, julep cups, and sticker-embellished cups for the kids.  Drink dispensers labeled with custom tags held Arnold Palmers, Sweet Tea and Lemonade.  Mint Juleps were served to the adults, and water bottles with our horse race label were placed in wicker baskets for an easy grab-on-the-go during a bounce house break.

The lunch buffet was set up in the dining, featuring three gorgeous flower arrangements from Blooming Gallery in modern white trophy cup urns from Z Gallerie.  A Fare Extraordinaire created a perfectly southern assortment of tasty bites, including fried chicken, lettuce cups, macaroni and cheese, and mini pigs in a blanket for the kids.  Silverware was rolled in a Caspari lattice-patterned napkin and our coordinating napkin ties, making it simple for guests to grab along with their plates.

The dining room also held a special table for the adorable 3-tier cake from Cakes by Gina.  They were able to duplicate our haberdashery stripe and pony lattice patterns in fondant onto the tiers, and topped it with Cameron’s very own silver trophy cup.  The table was dressed in a topper made from our haberdashery stripe fabric, edged with white pom pom trim.

The cake was just the beginning of the desserts offered to guests.  A full Derby Dessert Table held center stage and featured delicious sweets all in our signature color palette of yellow, blue and green.  The table was dressed in a blue floor-length tablecloth, creating a perfect base for white serving dishes that we embellished with Cake Plate Clings in coordinating patterns.  A custom fabric backdrop featured our lattice pattern and colorful horse silhouettes.  A pennant banner was draped across the front of the table, and a fabric-covered riser held 5 candy jars in the center of the table.  Instead of traditional candy jar tags, we created “prize ribbon” tags to identify the type of candy.  Colorful macarons, yellow cake pops and blue prize ribbon cookies were some of the favorite treats.  Blueberry cupcakes topped with colorful, fondant bow ties and mini key lime pies sat front and center, and as a nod to the southern theme, pie pops stood in mint julep cups adorned with bow ties.  Blue-striped paper bags held our #1 prize ribbon stickers, and were available for guests to fill with candy to bring home with them.

The children all received a tin of bubbles, adorned in our horse race label and tied with a green gift tag.  They also received a colorful horse chocolate lollipop, which were displayed in a white “trough” full of wheat grass.  Signage thanked the guests for celebrating Cameron’s Derby Day.  It was an amazing party with the perfect combination of southern elegance and preppy party decor.

Ideas to repurpose for your Derby Party:

  • Create centerpieces in “trophy cup”-style urns
  • Create custom “prize ribbon” decor, including a photo booth backdrop
  • Spray-paint toy horses (bonus if they come with a little jockey on them) bright, pop colors
  • Host a horse race for kids using traditional stick ponies
  • Serve cocktails in traditional mint julep cups, and mason jars
  • Serve traditional southern food, including fried chicken, and mini hot browns
Vendor Credit
By |2018-02-12T16:56:37-07:00April 11th, 2013|First Birthday, Kentucky Derby, Parties for Boys|

About the Author:

Hi, I’m Alyssa, and I love seeing all the inspiration on HWTM! Aside for my obvious love of design, parties, and blogging, here are a few random things about me…

1. I’ve done 3 triathlons.

2. I just got married on 3.14.15

3. I’m from Miami, Florida.

4. My 4 favorite Hostess INK collections are Birthday-saurus, Farm birthday, Baby Bistro, and Retro Rainbow.

5. I love to cook but hardly, if ever, repeat dinner recipes.


  1. @fineartofcakes April 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Preppy & Playful “Dapper Derby” First Birthday Party(via @HWTM_Jenn): Hostess with the Mostess®… http://t.co/kKO2oxsxc3 – #Cake Blogs

  2. Kelly @ WH Hostess April 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you so much for the beautiful feature! This was such a fun party to design and Cameron’s mom did an AMAZING job putting it all together!

    • alyssa April 12, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      You’re welcome Kelly, you and Cameron did a fantastic job!

  3. @shannonaddison April 12, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Check out Cameron’s “Dapper Derby” First Birthday Party http://www.hwtm.com/2013/04/preppy-playful-dapper-derby-first-birthday-party/ Thanks @whhostess @ellenzilla & @afehouston for all your help

  4. @WHHostess April 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Such a great party! @shannonaddison Check out Cameron’s “Dapper Derby” First Birthday Party http://www.hwtm.com/2013/04/preppy-playful-dapper-derby-first-birthday-party/

  5. Ellen April 12, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Don’t forget:
    Photography by ellenzilla / ellenzilla.com

    • alyssa April 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Ellen,

      Sorry about that! We’ve added you in :)

  6. Courtney Robertson April 14, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    this party is fabulous!!! You are so talented!

  7. tica May 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    beautiful party …. what size label are those on the bubble bottles

  8. Lauren Marasa May 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    I just saw this blog…I am planning a derby themed party for my son’s 1st birthday and love your ideas! In fact- I had already purchased the same hat/bib as pictured. But…I was wondering- where did you find that cute little romper with the horse on it?!? I would love to know! Thank you!

  9. Derby themed birthday party | OhMyGoff June 22, 2015 at 9:35 am

    […] Resort Cake, pie pops, hat petite fours, cupcakes: Jason Reaves at Salamander Resort Inspiration: Hostess with the Mostess Blog Horse Cookie Pops: Fresh Bakes Cupcake Photo Topper: Say Cheese Toppers Invitation: Sweet Wishes […]

  10. Sara March 9, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Do you have pictures of everything put together at the party? I’d love to see how it turned out but I can’t find any photos on this blog post, just links to the individual vendors.

    • jenn s. March 9, 2016 at 7:47 am

      Hi Sara – Do you mean that the images aren’t loading for you at all? When I view the post I can see all the images, so I’m not sure what would be causing them to not load for you… maybe try a different browser or refreshing the page?

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