Make The First Weekend In May Your Reason To Throw A Grand Party!
There are so many occasions to celebrate throughout the year, birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Independence Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and on and on. Many times these celebrations center around our family and as time goes forward holidays often change hosts based on marriages, children and aging parents. Some people don’t live near their family so they are often on the road for the holidays or when they stay home they may not be the hosts because everyone can’t travel to them.
So with that in mind, if you are one who enjoys the hospitality of hosting an event at your home or elsewhere, I encourage you to find some less celebrated events that you can truly make your own and start a tradition.
For me, I have had the desire to host a Kentucky Derby party for many years. I had no idea there was such a thing until we moved into our current neighborhood about 25 years ago.
There were few neighbors at the time because it was a new development and oddly enough we were all about the same age, 30 somethings. My backdoor neighbor (actually we have no one directly behind us, but on the next street over) Liz was from Louisville, Kentucky and I suppose that it is tradition to have a party if you cannot attend the races in person. She invited the neighbors and her friends to their home for the party.
There were no hats, no dresses, but there were drinks…bourbon for sure but I can’t recall if there were mint julips. I don’t care for mint and it was so long ago and I was totally unaware of what was actually going on I don’t remember the bar. There was some betting but again, I was clueless about how that was done and we were too “house poor” to toss any amount of money away on a bet. I know we watched the race and enjoyed mingling but I have no other memory than that. I don’t think they held the party again but they moved long ago and I have never been invited to another Kentucky Derby party since.
Everytime I consider it I get anxiety! Why? Because I know there are certain things that are to be done and I don’t understand how to do them. Last year I researched it quite a bit and you can actually do real betting with the race from home. I have never even purchased lottery ticket so I am not too interested in the betting, but if it is a part of the special event, I want to be sure to have the option for my guests. In this series I will address the options for betting including some sites where your guests can participate in the actual wagering online.
Then there is the attire. If you don’t know it’s all about the HATS then you haven’t been exposed to a true Kentucky Derby party. While women go all out, the men often wear the Derby Hat as well. Ladies dress in light and airy garden party dresses and men are often seen in suspenders and little jackets. So if you invite some folks who are willing to really get into it you can add the feature of a hat contest or best dressed to the event. I will go into more detail about the attire in another post in this series. I just purchased my hat as I was writing this article so I will model it after it arrives and share some great ideas for purchasing or for making your own.
PLANNING THE DAY
Before you can design your invitation you need to determine
- the DATE: Super important because it is a scheduled event so you definitely want to have it the day of the Race. For this year it will be MAY 7, 2016. However, the night before is also a celebrated event, The Kentucky Oaks, if Saturday does not work for you. While races are going on from 10:30AM throughout both race days the time for the MAY 6, 2016 main event is 5:49PM.
- the TIME: Check with the Derby to see what time the main race is and make sure you start your party a minimum of an hour prior to the race so all of your guests have arrived, have had time to get a bite, a drink and if there is betting have placed their bets. Obviously a little earlier would not hurt. If you were at the Derby the gates open at 8am so the entire day can be spent enjoying the event. The actual race will be held this year at 6:34pm.
- the ATTIRE: be kind to your guests and provide suggestions as to the dress you desire. If not you are likely to have jeans, shorts and then those who want to embrace the spirit of the derby perhaps making others wish they had known about the option to dress the part.
- the MENU: today people eat at all times and have very specific dietary concerns, so at the minimum you should give an indication if you are serving a full meal or simply hors d’ oeuvre. You can place an asterisk on your invitation with a note to contact you if a guest has special dietary needs. No host wishes to have nothing to offer one of her guests.
- the SCHEDULE: while it is not necessary to give an exact itinerary, you can give a vague event schedule which will also alert guests to some of the possible activities to participate in. You can your cue from the Derby Day schedule and play off some of the events of the day especially if you are having a long party. But for sure let them know dinner time, bet placement if you are doing that, race time and any contests that will be held and their winner anncounement.
- the ACTIVITES: as noted above you can have a HAT contest, BETTING, BEST IN SHOW for full outfit, and any other ideas that you may come up with. Just be certain to let your guests know so they can plan on participating if they choose.
Now that you have a vague outline of your day, you can decide on your Guest List. I think this is the kind of party that you can mix people in your life at. Sometimes we have big birthday milestones and you go to a party and it is mostly family, co-workers and other friends and you don’t know anyone hardly and it isn’t too much fun. But in this case, there is a focus to the event that will allow your guests to mingle and participate rather than sit and feel uncomfortable. I also believe that you should be sure to invite more than one couple or single from each area of your circle of friends or family so they do know someone at the party besides you.
DESIGN YOUR INVITATION
There are many designs floating around out there to get inspiration from. Each year of the Kentucky Derby has it’s own artwork and theme and you can purchase OFFICIAL items from the Derby site directly. This year is the 142 nd year. There are several places that you can order OFFICIAL 142 nd Kentucky Derby invitations…one of which is the Kentucky Derby Store which is at the site www.kentuckyderby.com
Ideas to use as inspiration for your invitation are ROSES in honor of the winner’s circle, the TROPHY, HORSES RACING, HATS, and anything SOUTHERN.
I know there is a trend to use E-Vites these days and you can save postage and use some pre-made designs. However, Southern Tradition is very much unchanging in keeping with etiquette which requires a written invitation that travels through the post and is delivered to the home of the invitee. A proper RSVP should also be included so your guests has the opportunity to gracefully bow out if they are otherwise engaged or wholeheartedly respond that they will be attending.
If you are going to encourage the wearing of HATS and if you are having any CONTESTS, I would suggest mailing out your invitations 5 – 6 weeks prior to your party so that your guests have adequate time to invest in selecting or making their HAT!
Next in this KENTUCKY DERBY SERIES, I will show our Invitation and talk about DERBY HATS!
While I am going to go through my Event Planning in Detail for my 1st Annual Kentucky Derby Party, you can bypass me and get a spectacular FREE Kentucky Derby Party Planning Guide on the site KentuckyDerby.com
For a ton of information, visit my Pinterest Board Kentucky Derby Party Planning https://www.pinterest.com/debbies3541/kentucky-derby-party-planning/
If you have been to a Kentucky Derby Party or better yet hosted one, I would love to hear about it!
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