Often referred to as “The most exciting two minutes in sports” the Kentucky Derby is always cause for a celebration. The Kentucky Derby started in 1875, making it the longest running sporting event in the United States. From sipping a mint julep to donning a beautiful hat, this sporting event is steeped in southern American culture and is a fun occasion to celebrate even if you don’t have personal ties to it. 

We’ve put together a quick guide of must-haves from food to the dress code of what you’ll need to host your very own Kentucky Derby watch party.


Roses are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby because the winner is given a garland of roses in the Winner’s Circle. The roses are known to symbolize the struggle and heart necessary to win the race. The first rose garland appeared in 1896. Place roses wherever you can. From rose petals to putting a bouquet inside a trophy cup or silver urn, they can be used anywhere you see fit.

Buy little toy horses at a dollar store to put around tables or horseshoes, if you can find them. You can even create your own little race track or area with all the names of all the horses competing and make a game out of guessing the winner.

Dress Code

The main must-have accessory or feature of a Kentucky Derby party is definitely the over-the-top hats. This tradition started at the very first race in 1875 and has endured through the years. Nowadays the hats are seen as a good luck charm, with men and women taking part in wearing flashy, showy headwear to watch the race.

Food and Drinks

Mint juleps are the official and most iconic drink at the Derby and have been for nearly a century. Try this family-friendly spin on it with this mint julep lemonade recipe. Or if you do want a true cocktail, this lavender mint julep is also a pretty and delicious option. Be sure to serve these drinks in mason jars for that added flair.

A Benedictine spread is an iconic cream cheese and cucumber veggie dip that is a staple at the Kentucky derby. Invented by Jennie Carter Benedict, it’s a must-have to serve to your guests.

For an entree, get spicy with it with these Nashville hot chicken sliders. Mini Kentucky hot browns are also very on theme.

We hope you loved these suggestions! Would you host a Kentucky Derby watch party?