A three Crown-winning horse definitely calls for celebration! For those who can’t make it to Kentucky’s renowned Churchill Downs, Baltimore’s storied Pimlico Race Course, or New York’s marathon at Belmont Park, there are other ways to enjoy the spirit and festivities of the big races from home.
Go Big & Bold
When it comes to racetrack-inspired decor, go big and bold with checkerboard patterns, horseshoe embellishments, or racing graphics on sectional covers. You can even throw some themed pillows on the seats to add a little extra flair with added comfort.
- Decorate the space with a few bales of hay, ribbons, fresh flowers, and hats.
- While roses are the traditional flower of the cavalry races, have fun with the arrangement and fill tin pails with any fresh flowers such as tulips, hydrangeas, and cornflowers.
- Use checkerboard or houndstooth napkins for your place settings to match white or blue table covers.
- Make drink and food tags with construction paper, a horse silhouette, and craft sticks.
- Tie some balloons and streamers around the place to heighten the atmosphere of the occasion.
Take some time to decorate an indoor entertaining area as well to prepare for any potential inclement weather. No matter the amount of planning, it can be unpredictable, so in the case of some unexpected storm clouds, move the party inside and have some waterproof chair covers handy to prevent any damage to your outdoor furniture.
The secret to culinary success on the big day is to create a well-rounded menu. Begin with enticing hors d’oeuvres to ease hungry guests while you prepare the main course. For the entree, get creative with the cuisine and presentation to elevate the experience for your guests. Close out the evening with a delectable dessert that will leave friends and family happy and satisfied.
- Hors d’oeuvres: Pimento cheese deviled eggs, Jalapeno hush puppies, Benedictine dip with veggies.
- For the hearty main course: a platter of comfort food such as buttermilk fried chicken, grilled sausage, crab cakes, or a brunch buffet featuring french toast, bacon, and quiche. Don’t forget to add a cheese dish including brie, gruyere, camembert, gouda, blue cheese, and an array of cheddars.
- Dessert & pastries: Some of the popular equestrian treats are Pecan pie, fruit pies, and bourbon balls.
Serve on Your Finest Dinnerware
Serve your race-day feast on festive serving ware in the classic race-day colors (blue and white). This vibrant color scheme can be used on everything from small snack plates to the largest serving platter.
Plus, they can be assembled to match your freshly refurbished backyard with white and blue sectional covers for a cohesive look.
Stock the Bar
A lively assortment of libations is a must-have for any race day celebration. And who’s the star of your cocktail menu? Mint juleps have been a race day staple since 1938. These refreshing cocktails are essential to embrace the full experience of the festivities.
Other cocktails to try embody 3 of triple crown races:
- For the Kentucky Derby, it’s the classic mint julep, prepared in a conventional style with bourbon, mint, sugar, and crushed ice.
- The Black-Eyed Susan is a Preakness cocktail prepared with vodka, bourbon, orange juice, and sour mix.
- Belmont Jewel is the champ cocktail for Belmont, which is a blend of bourbon, lemonade, and pomegranate juice.
Stock the bar with basic house selections in addition to your specialty cocktail. A unique dark and light beer, a dry white wine, and red wine will give the best of both worlds to your guests. Arrange a bar with all of the drink ingredients, including ice cubes, glasses, and cocktail napkins, as well as lemonade and ice tea for non-alcoholic options.
Equestrian-Inspired Ensembles for the Day Please!
Race day celebrations are known for their glamorous ensembles. Include a dress code in your invitations so your friends can dress up in their fanciest attire. Using a blue and white color palette and spring-appropriate apparel, you and your guests are sure to feel the full effect of the derby games.
Get All Dolled Up
Wearing a derby hat is not only customary but it is also said to put the odds in your favor! There are no rules or boundaries between fantastic and sublime hat choices. Prepare your look and join in the fun by dressing in costume for the occasion! Large extravagant hats will instantly amp up your look. Plus, they keep the heat off your face during the activities.
Bring Fun & Excitement
What’s a party without some games? Take things a step further to amuse your party guests with some innovative games and activities. Bring the fun and excitement of the big races to your bash.
Pre-race contests are a fabulous way to break the ice and excite guests for the rest of the evening activities. Make a list of what you already have and prepare your games accordingly.