By: Danielle Rudy Davis

If you can’t make it to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, the next best option is celebrating and cheering on the horses at home. Start by inviting over some friends, then stock the bar - we recommend grabbing a few bottles of La Crema and a commemorative bottle or two of the Kendall Jackson 2021 Mendocino County Chardonnay and 2020 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon -  and then follow these simple tips to host an unforgettable Kentucky Derby celebration.

1. Set the Stage 

They don’t call it the Run for the Roses® for nothing. Start your party set-up with roses and go from there. I love using silver julep cups as vases for small arrangements throughout your entertaining space. Or take some inspiration from Kendall Jackson’s Derby Party where they use low-profile rose bouquets as centerpieces. 

For a fun photo-op, hang up a rose garland as a backdrop and have jockey hats and stick horses on hand for props. The Kentucky Derby store also has a variety of great party supplies to give your gathering an official feel. 

2. Hats Required 

Dressing up for Derby is more than half the fun. Encourage your guests to wear their Derby best - which always includes a hat or fascinator. Coordinate with your date - like this gorgeous couple - or stand out with your own individual looks. 

You can even host your own Derby Red Carpet and name your best dressed list. Need some inspiration? Check out the Vineyard Vines Kentucky Derby collection or see find more Derby fashion advice here

3. Wine and Cocktail Station 

You can’t host a Derby party without Mint Juleps but you’ll also want to stock the bar with a variety of wines - like a crisp La Crema Chardonnay - for guests to enjoy throughout the day. Want something special for guests to enjoy? Kendall Jackson has two special bottlings featuring the best of California's coastal wine-growing regions. The two commemorative wines blend their family's legacy of award-winning winemaking with Thoroughbred horse racing. The 2021 Mendocino County Chardonnay and the 2020 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon are limited-edition and will go fast so be sure to race to find them before Derby day at a store near you or online. 

Round out your bar with everything you need to make all the official Derby cocktails: the Woodford Reserve Spire, Finlandia Oaks Lily and Herradura Horseshoe Margarita

4. A Southern Spread 

After taking a look at the Derby at Home menu with recipes from Damaris Phillips, run by Kroger and pick up everything you need to create a full Derby spread. 

Benedictine, a uniquely Kentucky creation of cucumber, sour cream and cream cheese, is a must. Serve this tasty spread with crudite, crackers or in tea sandwiches. Fresh spring salads, deviled eggs and biscuits are also a must. Find a full array of recipes here.

5. Place Your Bets

While the Kentucky Derby race is the star of the show, Derby Day includes a full card of racing that can be viewed on NBC Sports throughout the day. You and your guests can place wagers even if you’re not at the track on

Want to keep it simpler? Have everyone wager $5 or $10 and pick a horse out of a hat. Everyone will have their own favorite to cheer on and the winner takes home more than just bragging rights. 

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