For the past few years, we’ve partnered with 14 Hands Winery to bring you lots of creative inspiration for celebrating the Derby in style at home. First there was the vintage-modern style Taste of Derby theme, followed by our Preppy Paddock Party.
This year, I wanted to come up with something really colorful, FRESH, and a bit unexpected, which always makes things more fun for the party guests! Inspired by the vibrant colors of jockey racing silks, I went for bright & artistic colors mixed with greenery and rustic elements. Preppy black & white patterns added a touch of classic Derby style.
The result is a festive Kentucky Derby® Garden Party theme that feels both elegant and fun at the same time… I hope it inspires you to invite some friends over and bring the Derby home this year too, no matter where you live!
PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:
– Repurposed wood horse adorned with a DIY crepe paper “Garland of Roses”
– Derby printables displayed in moss-covered frames
– Wine glasses transformed into Southern Belle “derby hats”
– Toy horses, jockeys and horseshoes spray painted gold
– Striped Farfalle pasta used as food and decor (Check out the “bow-tie” drink charms!)
Rustic Garden Party Centerpiece
A rustic container was filled with a colorful mix of flowers, then topped with a mini bunting garland fashioned from preserved sheet moss and patterned paper. The container was embellished with hand-cut printable silhouettes, and iron horseshoes (spray painted gold).
Southern Belle Stemware
We transformed the bases of wine glasses into ladies’ Derby hats with felt, ribbon, and feathers. If you make each “hat” a little different, they will also double as glass markers! (DIY Tutorial here.)
Add raffia to bold striped farfalle pasta to create clever — and super EASY — bow-tie drink markers and decorative accents.
Golden Horses & Jockeys
Inexpensive toy horses and 5” horse and jockey figures were given a quick coat of gold spray paint, then used to dress up the table place settings and centerpiece. As a side note — the 5” horse and jockey figures arrived as a shiny yellow gold, but I sprayed them with a softer matte metallic shade of gold to make them look more upscale. I also painted some 2.5” plastic horse and jockey figures gold, removed the bases with a wire cutter, and used them as golden “emblems” on some of the vases and floral containers.
Win Place Show Vases
Silver trophy and julep cup vases were filled with colorful flowers and accented with printable Win, Place, Show flags — an easy way to transform any centerpiece into a Derby theme!
Mossy Signs & Frames
We cut foam core to fit in open wood frames, covered it with sheet moss and used it as backer for the printable 8×10 signs. Unfinished wooden 4×6 frames ($1 each at Michaels) were also covered in moss and used to display the printable “Run for the Roses” signs.
A rustic wooden crate was embellished with wooden craft numbers that were spray painted gold. Three toy horse figures covered in chalkboard paint stood above the numbers to represent the Win, Place, and Show horses.
Crepe Paper Roses
We needed to make a lot of paper roses for decor, so choosing an easy-to-accomplish style of paper flower was key. I’ve made paper roses before using standard card stock, but the simple change of bringing them to life with textured crepe paper this time made a world of difference!
Rose Garland Horse Centerpiece
The Garland of Roses is a significant element of the Kentucky Derby®, and I really wanted to create something to represent it well in the party decor. On a decor-scouting trip to HomeGoods, I stumbled on a fantastic wooden horse statue that was just begging to get all dressed up for the party. ;)
A couple coats of black chalkboard spray paint + lots of red crepe paper roses (secured with glue dots) and voila! I am so happy with how this piece turned out — it definitely makes a statement and feels artistic, but is also surprisingly approachable. This general idea can definitely be recreated in a variety of ways, using different styles and sizes of horse figures, from toys and statues to wire topiary horse forms.
Paper Flower Derby Hat
Big hats are another important element of the Derby and a great place to utilize paper flowers! Here, a simple & inexpensive wide-brimmed hat was given a big dose of Derby style with a few DIY paper roses and colorful feathers.
Rolled preserved sheet moss was used to add a “garden party” vibe to many elements in the decor, from embellishing display stands and serving trays to creating mossy bunting banners. Wired moss was also used to decorate the glass drink dispenser.
Printable Party Decor
I designed a new Kentucky Derby® Garden Party paper collection to help bring this theme to life and tie all of the elements together. Everything from drink flags and patterned paper to decorative wraps and party signs is included.
FOOD & DRINKS
The drink station is all about creative presentation! The 14 Hands Wine and the embellished “Southern Belle” and “Southern Gentlemen” wine glasses are the stars of the show, and we also whipped up an easy Wine Julep cocktail for a light & refreshing twist on the traditional Mint Julep. To make this at home, simply muddle mint in the bottom of a pitcher, fill it half way with ice, then add 1 part 14 Hands Pinot Gris or Hot to Trot White Blend and 1 part ginger ale.
Southern Sweet Tea is a great non-alcoholic option for Derby parties. We garnished ours with a generous helping of lemon wheels and served it from a barrel-shaped glass drink dispenser.
Since there are already so many great Kentucky Derby® inspired recipes and images out there (we featured several of them in last year’s post), I decided to just focus on a couple easy recipes that coordinated well with the look of this new theme:
- The first recipe is a Southern pasta salad that features the same bold striped farfalle used on the wine glasses and decor. I just couldn’t resist the idea of a guest holding a wine glass with a farfalle bow-tie, then noticing the same striped design on their plate (and in some of the party decor)! My husband also made some Sweet & Spicy Bourbon Pecans to use in the salad.
- The second recipe we shot was Watermelon-Feta-Mint Salad Bites drizzled with balsamic glaze. I felt like this idea was especially fitting here because of the colors (watermelon for red roses) and the use of mint as a tie-in with the Mint Julep.
For more details on some of the creative elements in this theme, check out these tutorials: