6 Tips for Derby Decor + Mint Julep Recipe!

They don’t call us the “Derby City” for nothing. If you’ve been in Louisville during Derby week, you know that it’s a city wide celebration. With Derby right around the corner, we thought we would show some easy decorating tips for your upcoming Derby party. 

Tip 1: Choose a color scheme that fits the event.

For Derby, this would be red, green and black. With it being called “The Run for the Roses,” obviously the color red is incorporated in nearly all Derby functions. This color scheme could be achieved within your tablescape, food displays, and any additional décor items. For Oaks, the color scheme is usually more feminine being that this is the day that the Fillies race. Pink is usually the focal color and could also be incorporated into your décor through things like tablescapes. 

Tip 2: For center pieces and foliage displays, use red roses.

Again, it’s an important symbol within the Derby and creates a rich but simple look. You could even jazz it up a bit and display them in mint julep cups or vintage trophies. 


Tip 3: Set up a charming mint julep bar station.

This is both functional and attractive as it provides a beverage for your guest and a great way to decorate. Use items like mint julep cups, glass pitchers, foil banners, decorative paper straws and you guessed it…roses. Here is a mint julep bar cart that we are crushing on: 

Pinterest: Pizzazzerie

Pinterest: Pizzazzerie

Tip 4: Use vintage derby glasses for serving and decorating.

Each year, The Kentucky Derby produces a drinking glass with the corresponding year on it as well all previous Derby winners’ names. These are major collectors’ items and can often be found in local antique shops or sold online. These are a fun way to display things like straws, mixing sticks, roses and beverages. 

Tip 5: Racing programs can be used in many different décor forms.

You could use them as place mats at table setting rather than a typical place mat. You could also roll several of them up and stick them into a cute basket for display. These make for a great conversation piece, but also a fun look!

Tip 6: If you have any horse statues or figurines, this is your time to bring them out!

Incorporating those into your tablescapes and food displays is the perfect way to add that Kentucky touch. After all, the horses are what Derby is all about! Hopefully with these tips you will win, place or show your next Derby party! 


Straight From the Louisville Source….

It can’t be Derby without the official drink of Derby season, the Mint Julep! The Mint Julep could arguably be the most distinguished cocktail alongside the Martini and there is nothing more refreshing on a warm day than a cold Mint Julep served in a polished to perfection sterling silver cup.  

The Mint Julep has been promoted by Churchill Downs in association with the Kentucky Derby since 1938. Each year almost 120,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs over the two-day period of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, virtually all of them in specially made Kentucky Derby collectible glasses.

Since 2006, Churchill Downs has also served extra-premium custom-made mint juleps at a cost of $1000 each at the Kentucky Derby. These mint juleps were served in gold-plated cups with silver straws, and are made from Woodford Reserve bourbon, mint imported from Ireland, spring water ice cubes from the Bavarian Alps, and sugar from Australia. The proceeds are used to support charitable causes dedicated to retired race horses. 

Karen’s Mint Julep:

  1. Grow and use your own mint from your herb garden (not required, but the most authentic!)

  2. ½ oz.  superfine sugar

  3. 1 oz. hot water

  4. 8 mint leaves, plus one mint sprig

  5. 2 oz. of Kentucky Bourbon

Dissolve the sugar water in your favorite Kentucky Derby glass or my favorite, a chilled Mint Julep cup.  Next add the mint leaves and press them lightly with a wooden spoon – you want to reduce the mint oil from the mint leaves so don’t press too hard.  Fill the chilled cup or glass with Kentucky Bourbon, pour crushed ice, stir and place the mint sprig alongside the sterling silver straw.  

Find a comfortable seat, and enjoy your simple, delightful drink.  I can think of no other way to cap off a wonderful day. 

– Karen Veith, Vice President, Interior Design and Development