Isn’t It Time You Hosted Your Own Dinner Party?
“I always tell my clients that they need to plan unselfishly,” says Tiara Fowler, owner of White Flower Weddings. She uses her experience as an event planner to help others plan and execute enjoyable parties that guests will enjoy. “They need to think about who they’re inviting and what it is they would want to see or experience. A lot of times parties fall flat when you are strictly planning the things you enjoy,” she says. Thinking about guests might mean ensuring that the menu is inclusive of people with dietary preferences or sensitivities; it might mean offering plenty of beverage options for people who choose not to drink alcohol.
Tiara says it is equally important to offer guests variety in terms of activities to hold their attention and interest. When it comes to planning a Derby party, Tiara suggests incorporating bourbon tastings into the party, as well as Kentucky cuisine. Making variations on the hot brown, Derby pie, or Kentucky pound cake can be relatively easy and much more interesting to serve than hot dogs or hamburgers.
Another fun idea would be to incorporate attributes of the 146th Derby into the day. “Figure out the horses that are running, what their names are, and do some of the food centered around the names of the horses,” she says. For example, some of the horses nominated for this year’s Derby have gold and silver-themed names: Anneau d’Or (gold ring), Silver State, Silver Prospector, Gold Street. A party host could easily work in gold- and silver-themed decorations, as well as select foods or recipes that have gold or silver food in the name (Rold Gold pretzels, Kerrygold butter, Golden Delicious apples, or cupcakes coated with edible silver shimmering spray).
While most small Derby parties don’t involve a photo booth (as weddings often do), it might be fun to create a personalized backdrop that both kids and adults can enjoy for picture snapping and social media posting. Although some people still like to give party favors, it is becoming more common to either not give favors or to make the favors something practical such as chip clips or wine bottle stoppers that guests will use, rather than something that will just end up in a landfill.
It wouldn’t be 2020 without mentioning COVID-19 so anyone who is planning a Derby-related event must keep guest safety at top of mind. If hosting a larger group, Tiara recommends taking the party outside to ensure fresh air and proper physical distancing, while an indoor party guest list should be no more than 15 people. “Don’t make your guests search for sanitizer,” she says. “It should be easily accessible and within eyesight of your guests regardless of where they are in your space.”
Finally, for those planners who love party favors, a decorative face mask would both encourage safety and commemorate what will (hopefully) be a one-of-a-kind Derby race.
P.S. Check out some more Derby party tips and food ideas.