I live in Wisconsin, so by the time May hits I’m always feeling like it’s been a long Winter. I get the math behind it, Winter is roughly 90 days every year, but every year those 90 days seem LONG! In my mind May signals that we are in the home stretch and better days (& weather) are coming. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than a party! For some reason the Kentucky Derby struck me as the perfect opportunity this year. I can’t say that I have ever been a big fan of horse racing, but I am a fan of getting together with friends and an excuse to wear an obnoxious hat. The Kentucky Derby is always the first Saturday in May, so this might just become an annual ‘welcome Spring’ event for us. The 141st Kentucky Derby coincidentally fell on the same day as the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight, which has been coined The Fight of the Century. Needless to say it was easy to get my husband on board for a Derby party by saying the guests could stay and we would rent the fight.
Now that we had our theme it was time to determine a guest list and create our invites. In today’s world there are a thousand ways to send out invites – evites, Facebook, MyPunchbowl and Pingg are all popular. I decided to go a little more old school with traditional paper invites. My husband and I had discussed it and we thought it would be fun for our friends to be surprised with an invite to a theme party. It seems like all I get from the U.S. Postal service is junk mail and bills, so we wanted this to be a pleasant surprise. I may have slipped and told a girlfriend or two, but judging from the reactions we got when our friends started to receive the invites, I definitely will keep my mouth shut next time. Etsy had thousands of cute invites, but I decided to create my own.
The official time of Kentucky Derby race was posted as 5:24 CST. Since the Kentucky Derby is also called the fastest 2 minutes in sports we wanted to add to some games to prolong the day and build to the hype of the race. Of course all references to betting were referring to bets placed with Monopoly money!
The basis of Horse Races was an old college drinking game where you bet a number of drinks on a specific horse (suit of cards) and your horse advances every time a card of the corresponding suit is flipped. If your horse wins you get to disperse the number of drinks you bet, if you lose you drink the number you bet.
Since my college drinking days are long gone I modified the drinks to cold hard cash and instead of cards I used the roll of a dice to allow for a few extra horses. Everyone selects a horse: The One and Only, Deuces Wild, Three’s Company, All Four Love, Five Card Stud and Six Feet Under. (You can name the horses whatever you want. It could be cute if you used corresponding names to horses actually running in the derby.) Then you select how many bets you want to place on the horse. Each bet was $1. To keep track of everyone’s bets we used 6 different color poker chips and each horse was represented by their corresponding chip. We roll the dice and a horse advances every time their corresponding number is rolled. The first horse to the finish line wins. The pot is then evenly divided between the number of winning chips that were dispersed. For example – The winning horse was Six Feet Under. There is $30 in the pot. Player A had 1 chip (or a $1 bet) on Six Feet Under and Player B had 2 Chips (or a $2 bet) on Six Feet Under. Player A gets $10 and Player B gets $20.) The horse track was created from a simple plastic table cloth from the Dollar Store. I wrote Start on one end, Finish on the other and numbers 1 – 10 down the side. I just used the corresponding poker chips for the horses. You could use figurines of horses, chess pieces or even My Little Pony’s if you have some laying around. That will be an add on for next year!
Everyone loves the chance to win money, so a 50/50 Raffle is always a big hit! The rules are simple, the winning raffle ticket gets 1/2 the pot. In this case the other 1/2 of the money generated from the 50/50 raffle went to the winners of the costume contest. Just a side note – if you are ever planning a charity event or trying to raise money, a 50/50 raffle is an easy money generator! I picked up some raffle tickets when I was at the Dollar Store getting the table cloth, but I’ve also seen them at party supply stores. I got the double tickets and the guests kept one half and put the other in the bucket.
As stated on the invite, we requested that everyone ‘wear their derby best.’ Most women interpreted this as big hats and men thought preppy bow ties. My husband, who is always an original, decided to dress like a jockey – to each their own. We did also discuss that it would be funny if we dressed as a horse, but with all of the running around associated with hosting (and the fact that I found a hat I really liked) we did not go this route. Every guest got a vote for each the best dressed male and best dressed female.
As I mentioned before the other 1/2 of the money generated in the 50/50 raffle was split between the best dressed male and female. Other ideas for prizes could include a bottle of bourbon for the male and champagne or a dozen roses for the winning female. It could be anything really. Just something to say ‘thanks for going all out.’ We had a TON of great costumes this year. I loved everyone’s creativity. We had everything from the traditional big hats to an equine veterinarian.
Betting on the Derby