Get Down and Derby!

There’s no better way to kick off your May than celebrating the Kentucky Derby with friends. For about two glorious minutes, twenty of the most beautiful and athletic horses in the world compete in the first of three races that form the Triple Crown. Flamboyant ladies’ hats are proudly displayed, mint juleps are poured and bets are placed.

The Derby is one of our most enduring national pastimes and is celebrated in a distinctly southern style. Here are my ideas for a sophisticated celebration and how to make a live rose corsage.



While I wove in elements of the Derby’s nickname, The Race for the Roses, I also wanted to include a large arrangement giving a nod to a traditional ephemeral southern style and featuring late spring flowers like hydrangea and snapdragons. I used a faux grass runner to represent the infield grass and Kentucky horse pastures. Last but not least, no Derby party would be complete without pie and stiff bourbon cocktails!



When it comes to race day cocktails, obviously the mint julep goes without saying, but anything involving bourbon and/or tea is fair game in my book! Here’s the classic recipe and some other options I love.



Derby pie is a must. This gooey heavenly creation is a chocolate and pecan tart in a pie shell with a pastry dough crust. It was originally created in the Melrose Inn of Prospect, Kentucky and remains a staple of Derby celebrations. I can’t have just one piece. It’s so dangerous.

DIY Corsage
To carry the red rose theme across, I adorned my horse sculpture in a corsage of live floral. You could also wear this on your wrist if you want to take your Derby attire over the top.


Corsage Wristlet

Floral glue


Mini red roses


Step 1: Cut the stems as close to the flower as you can. This will give each flower a flat base for gluing.

Step 2: Pull the petals off of one of the roses and set aside.

Step 3: Gently cut a small slit in the glue nozzle - Beware it flows very quickly.

Step 4: Apply a few drops of glue to the metal piece of the wristlet. One the glue is tacky, gently place flat sides of each flower onto the wristlet.


Step 5: Continue to add flowers to the top of the wristlet until all metal is covered.

Step 6: Stretch wristlet band and slowly add glue. Place petals on glue across the whole band until no space is showing.


Step 7: Place corsage in a closed container in the fridge until just before party time. Note: fruits and veggies will kill the flowers, so make sure to place in a sealed container/bag.



Of course it just wouldn’t be right to wear just anything to a derby celebration. Make sure to see Southern Living’s Head-to-Toe Kentucky Derby Fashion Guide to dress the part.

Derby hat.jpg

What’s your favorite Derby tradition? I would love to hear the special, fun, quirky ways you celebrate! Wishing you an exciting two minute race and a winning bet!

Much love,