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  • Giselle Smith

Prettiest Derby Party in ETown

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

Hosting a pretty Derby party doesn't have to be hard! You can find everything you need from the cutest cookies to the perfect accessories and attire here in Elizabethtown. Thanks so much to all of the wonderful Hardin County businesses that participated in our Kentucky Derby-themed photo shoot by the talented Morgan Worley Photography at Highland Sod Farms.

Informal invites

Fine paper products are always a plus, but for last-minute Derby parties, a digital invite via text, email or Facebook will do the trick. Want something pretty? If graphic design isn't your thing, many customizable Derby party invitation options are available on Etsy. Shoot us an email at before Wednesday, May 1, 2019 with your name, monogram letter (first, last, middle initials in that order), address, RSVP phone number and party times and we will send you back a custom JPEG invite like our brightly colored sample above to send out to your friends. Expect a 24-hour turn around on your FREE digital invite.


Will your Derby party be held inside of your home or perhaps in your backyard? Small parties fit perfectly indoors, but larger events may require renting tables and chairs for an outdoor celebration. Tables, chairs and even tents in case of rain are available for rent through Something Borrowed Event Rentals. Visit the website or call Kaila at 502-331-8368 to get on her list for tables and chairs for this weekend.

choosing DECOR

Start with table linens when selecting decor. If you have your own, that is awesome, but if not, To The Nines Boutique / The Teal Door located in downtown Elizabethtown has different options available for rent for less than $15 per linen. The linen color you choose should be the base for your party color palette.

“The best way to determine the color palette of your party is to consider what color you have the most of in your every day pieces that can be incorporated in the design.”

We planned to use neutral china, glassware and gold flatware with wood and wrought iron accents. In addition, Highland Sod Farms offers a stunning, natural green back drop, so nothing was off the table as far as colors were concerned. We chose our color palette for this Derby inspiration based on our cookies from The Bailey Bakery as they were the first item ordered (incorporating bright teal). We knew we wanted a very colorful palette, so we added in a rainbow of warm colors including pink, red, orange and yellow.

key KENTUCKy HORS D'oeuvres: MINI hot brown sandwicheS

Super easy and sure to impress, Mini Hot Brown Sandwiches are a twist on a Bluegrass tradition that your guests are sure to love. We purchased all of our ingredients at Kroger on Dolphin Drive and car-side grocery pick up is available! Our recipe creates one dozen Mini Hot Brown Sandwiches which typically serves 3-4 guests.

Mornay sauce Ingredients

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups warmed milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

2 ounces grated cheese, such as Gruyere

mornay sauce Directions

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is pale yellow and frothy, about 1 minute. Do not allow the roux to brown. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Allow to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cheese and whisk until melted. If the sauce seems to thick, thin with a little milk. Mornay Sauce recipe from The Food Network.

MINI hot brown SANDWICH Ingredients

1 package your favorite sliced turkey

1 pack of King's Hawaiian Rolls

1 pack of Oscar Mayer Original Fully Cooked Bacon

3 medium tomatoes sliced

Mornay Sauce

MINI hot brown sandwich Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the tops off of King's Hawaiian Rolls and line a 9"x13" pan with the bottoms of the rolls. Layer turkey, sliced tomatoes and your Mornay sauce onto the King's Hawaiian Roll base and then add the tops. We criss-crossed Oscar Mayer Fully Cooked Bacon across the tops of each sandwich. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and hot. Serve on a platter tying in with your decor.

Don't forget dessert

Kentucky Derby-themed cookies are the cutest dessert option for your event, but do require a special advance order. We are teaming up with The Bailey Bakery and GIVING AWAY ONE DOZEN DERBY COOKIES THIS THURSDAY as seen in this inspiration shoot in a Facebook Giveaway. There are three easy steps to enter: LIKE The Bailey Bakery Facebook Page and the Elizabethtown Lifestyle Facebook Page, find the photo above on the Elizabethtown Lifestyle Facebook page and then share the post. The winner of the giveaway will be drawn live on Wednesday at 6:00pm. Facebook is in no way associated with the cookie giveaway.

Another dessert option not shown: Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Chip Pies (similar to the trademarked Derby Pies) are available locally at the Elizabethtown Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen.

dress to impress

"Excited" does not begin to describe our feelings when That Cute Little Shop offered to dress our beautiful models Jessica and Reilly. Kristen at That Cute Little Shop in Elizabethtown made choosing dresses for our shoot a breeze and I am sure she could work with any party color palette.

“Be original and show off your style, but choosing a dress and a hat or fascinator to match your party color palette will add a little something extra to your event.”

Many Elizabethtown boutiques offer Derby hats and fascinators, but That Cute Little Shop is the only boutique with a feather bar. What exactly is a feather bar? It is a place where Derby hat dreams come true. Step 1: Choose the hat or fascinator that your heart fancies. Step 2: Stand back and watch Kristen work some feather magic adding in different colors and textures of feathers to make your hat match your Derby dress. This is an exact science. Need proof? Check out the neutral fascinator I chose and the perfect shades of soft yellow, teal and hot pink feathers to match the color palette of the yellow dress.

perfect derby JEWELRY

No outfit is complete without coordinating jewelry. We visited Swanky Shoppe located conveniently downtown on the square for some fun pieces including yellow Dogwood earrings, fun pink and red hoop earrings and a perfect pink petal bracelet. In addition to a vast boutique clothing selection, Swanky Shoppe carries name brand lines such as Draper James and Vineyard Vines locally. Men should match too. Be sure your honey is dressed in his Derby best and that the colors of his tie / bow tie and pocket square compliment your dress and fascinator. Technically more so an accessory for your drink, but another cute item we purchased were Draper James mint julep coasters to be sure your table tops are protected from drink rings.


The classic Kentucky Derby drink is a Mint Julep! The main ingredient is bourbon, but you'll also need crushed ice, fresh mint and simple syrup (1 tsp sugar to 1 tsp water). Begin by swabbing your cup with fresh mint, then add two teaspoons of simple syrup to the cup and lightly muddle sprigs of fresh mint in the bottom of the cup. Fill cup half way with crushed ice and add 2-3 ounces of bourbon and stir (ice will melt; this is good). Having a variety of true Kentucky bourbons on hand makes your mint julep station more fun. Once stirred fill the remainder of the cup with crushed ice and garnish with fresh sprigs of mint. Complete your drink station with glassware, non-alcoholic beverages, floral accents and decor like this cute Kentucky kitchen towel from The Bug's Ear Boutique.

Thanks again to Morgan Worley Photography for our gorgeous images, to Highland Sod Farms for hosting our inspiration shoot and vendors Something Borrowed Event Rentals, To the Nines / The Teal Door, That Cute Little Shop, Swanky Shoppe, Kroger, The Bailey Bakery and The Bug's Ear. Special thanks to Ginna Matson from Hummingbird Page Event Co. for assisting with our shoot. We couldn't have done it without beautiful models Reilly and Jessica.

Thanks you so much for reading along. Don't forget to enter our Facebook Giveaway and Happy Derby Week Hardin County!

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