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Creative Party Ideas for a Kentucky Derby “Fiesta”

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Derby de Mayo Party Decorations

I’m excited to share a sneak peek of our upcoming Kentucky Derby party with you today. It’s filled with lots of colorful creative inspiration that should come in handy if you’re planning a “Derby Fiesta” of your own!

The 144th annual Run for the Roses falls on May 5th this year, which means that Cinco de Mayo parties will also be in full swing. So… we decided to take full advantage of the FUN and host a Kentucky Derby viewing party followed by a fiesta-inspired dinner. We’re talking mint juleps, margaritas, bow-ties, big hats, taco bar, & more. I mean…TACO ‘BOUT A PARTY, right?! Sorry… couldn’t resist. ;)

Live coverage of the Kentucky Derby starts at 2:30pm ET on NBC. It’s such a fun event to watch! We invited our guests to come over at 2 so there’s plenty of time to place bets, admire/crack up at outfits, and sip mint juleps before the race.

Derby de Mayo Mint Juleps

DIY Kentucky Derby Party Cups

I don’t know if it’s the vibrant colors or the horses or the array of textures or all 3, but I’m feeling extra inspired by the “Derby de Mayo” combo theme this year. Craft mode has been in full effect over here, and most of the projects I’m focusing on are very easy & inexpensive but still pack a big punch!

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Painted Taco Shells

Aren’t these fun?! I’m planning to string them into Taco Shell Garlands at the party. I used regular craft paint for the colorful shells and metallic spray paint for the gold ones.

They’re super fast to paint and don’t need to look “perfect” at all. In fact, the imperfectness add to the charm. Just make sure to handle them gently while painting so they don’t break! I only spent $4 total on FIVE (10 count) boxes of these taco shells, though, so it’s definitely not the end of the world if you lose a few either. ;)

gold paint dipped taco shells

Derby de Mayo Printables

2. Printables

These signs are from my new Derby de Mayo printable collection, which is available to download for free right now!

Printables are my favorite way to instantly bring a any party to life and really play up the theme. This collection has a variety of signs, banners, tent cards, and more. For added color, you can also embellish simple frames with crafty elements like paper flowers and mini poms.

Cindo de Derby party printables


Derby de Mayo Centerpiece Ideas - Horses

3. Embellished Horses

Toy horses make for great Kentucky Derby party decor. I found the large ones on Amazon and the small figurines at Michaels. I usually paint the horses a solid color for Derby parties – but this year they’re getting more of a fiesta vibe. ;)  I might even add tiny flowers to some of the small gold ones…


DIY Painted Gold Pineapple with Bow Tie

4. Pineapples with Bow Ties!

I thought this idea would be a fun way to combine the “fiesta” and “preppy” vibes. It took less than 2 minutes to spray paint 3 pineapples gold. The extra paint colors on the leaves are optional… these pineapples still look great either way.

I used scrap fabric and ribbon to make the bow tie using a simple fold-and-hot-glue method similar to this one. You can just eyeball the size too… and no sewing skills required!


5. DIY Derby Drink Decals

The traditional mint julep cups are beautiful, but VERY pricey to buy in bulk for a party, so our guests will be sipping from embellished party cups instead. These gold “decals” are actually just horse stickers spray painted gold. (You can find similar stickers in the scrapbooking aisle at craft stores or on Amazon.)

For a few other creative ways to use these DIY decals, check out this post.


More to come…

Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek! I’ll be sharing pics from the actual party this weekend on Instagram too… stop by to see how it all turned out. And don’t forget to tune into NBC on Saturday to watch the Derby festivities along with us!

Until then, hope you’re feeling inspired to get crafty… maybe this cute polka dot taco shell will help? ;)

DIY painted taco shells

P.S. For even more Kentucky Derby party inspiration, check out my past themes in our archives.

By |2019-03-30T07:58:43-07:00May 2nd, 2018|Kentucky Derby, Party Decor Projects, Styled by Jenn|

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. Kelsey May 3, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Where did you get those plastic cups?

    • jenn s. May 4, 2018 at 6:58 am

      Hi Kelsey – I found them at Michaels. :)

  2. Adriana November 16, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Hi!! I know it’s November but I’m planning to do a Cinco de Derby party for our Combined bridal shower and I was so pumped to see you guys did this theme!

    I looked on Instagram but are there more photos and ideas and I’m just missing them!?

    • jenn s. November 16, 2018 at 9:35 am

      Hi Adriana –
      There are more photos to share from the actual party, but I haven’t posted them yet! It was on my list but then I got totally distracted with other projects. I still want to share them though! I should be able to get to it within the next week. Stay tuned! :)

  3. AMY December 31, 2018 at 6:26 am

    Happy New Year’s Eve! Jenn, I used many of your past Derby printables & ideas for our Educational Foundation Derby Fundraiser last May. It was wonderful & we received great comments on the decor, so thanks! We plan to do it again this May, 2019 & I’m wondering if you will be creating new material? Of course, our group needs it early-like March-so we can tie the theme to games we create, etc.
    Any chance you’ll have something by then?
    Again, thanks!

    • jenn s. January 11, 2019 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Amy – Thanks for reaching out! And apologies for the delay in response – just getting over the holiday madness here. ;) Anyways, yes, I’m definitely planning to design a new Derby collection this year, and have it on the calendar to work on next month, so early March is doable on my end for publishing. I’ve actually received quite a few requests for a new Derby theme lately, so it’s already on my radar… love that people are getting started on the planning so early! Stay tuned. :)

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