You know we love a good theme party of any kind, so hang on to your oversized hats: It’s almost Kentucky Derby time! And guess what? It’s never too late to plan a last-minute garden party. We’ll have you off to the races in no time with these easy-to-pull-together ideas — they’re so polished your guests will never know this hasn’t been in the works for months!


1. Deck out your bar cart with the best bourbons. Pick out a few new varieties (ask your local shop for recommendations), then layer on the classic silver cups, some ice, some garnishes, and maybe even a horse statuette or two. (via Pizzazzerie)


2. Put a fresh spin on the julep. Once you’ve got the bar cart ready to go, get mixing. For the traditionalists, muddle up a classic. For the more adventurous, try these tasty tangerine and strawberry variations. But don’t forget the fresh mint sprigs on all three. (via Waiting on Martha)

3. Download some colorful betting cards. Too-cute Derby betting cards up the ante — and when you go with printables (like this adorable option) no one has to know you didn’t get them set weeks in advance! (via Hostess With the Mostess)


4. DIY these craft-fabulous fascinators. On second thought, forget the oversized hats. All you need to bring Derby-style glam to your party are a few sheets of tissue paper, some dollar-store headbands, and about fifteen minutes to create a collection of fancy fascinators for you and your guests. (via Today’s Woman Now)


5. Make hot brown everything. The traditional turkey, bacon, and gravy sandwich is a beloved part of Derby season, but making individual sandwiches isn’t exactly party-friendly. Luckily, there’s soooo many ways to adapt: From sliders to tarts to dip and even the mac ‘n’ cheese shown here, just pick your favorite buffet-style option for a true taste of Kentucky. (via Foodtastic Mom)

6. Bake up some mini Derby Pies. They’re called Derby Pies, so they’re pretty much a must. (And chocolate, pecans, brown sugar, and bourbon? Yes, please!) These bite-sized versions can be whipped up in under 40 minutes. (via If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen)


7. Put a bow (tie) on it. Add a dash of dapper to your party with these fun bow-tie straws — we love how easy and colorful these are. But if you’re dying to add a bow-tie style to all your decor, you’ve got options: You can DIY your own bow-tie garland and photo booth accessories, or just use your own collection of actual bow ties to decorate! (via The House That Lars Built)


8. Create your own cornhole game. An outdoor party isn’t complete without a strong selection of backyard games. Cornhole is easy enough to play (even in pretty dresses and oversized head pieces). Make this for the party, but use it all summer long! (via Brit+Co)

For even more Kentucky Derby ideas, check out our slew of party boards on Pinterest!