How to Host an Alcohol-Free Derby Party - The Healing Place How to Host an Alcohol-Free Derby Party - The Healing Place

How to Host an Alcohol-Free Derby Party

By: Marla Highbaugh, Director of Development and Communications

Derby is a fun time in Kentucky with big hats, fast horses, and garlands of lilies and roses. But with a lot of focus on alcohol, it can be a difficult time for those new in sobriety. While I am not in recovery, I know firsthand that It is possible to have a fun Derby party without alcohol by focusing on food, friends, and a fun atmosphere.

Food & Drink
From Hot Browns to hot dogs, food pulls a party together. If you want to have an elaborate set-up then do it. Create a menu, make as much ahead of time, and pull out your best china.  If you want to have a cookout or a potluck, then go for it. This is the perfect party to ask guest to bring something. Not sure what would be good on your menu, there are tons available online. Of course it wouldn’t be a Derby list without the Mint Julep so grab a handful of mint and try a non-alcoholic version found here.

If you are new in sobriety, invite your friends and family who want to encourage you in your recovery.  If you are a friend or family member of someone in sobriety, have a party that will make them feel at home without awkwardness. If you have friends that think your party will not be fun without alcohol, don’t invite them.

Fun Atmosphere
Set the stage for attendees that will encourage laughter and conversation with a few of the following ideas:

  • Derby-inspired front door wreath or flag. Horseshoes, roses, or even just ‘welcome’ is a great start.
  • Napkins with horses or jockeys are a great touch for the food line.
  • Clip the names of horses or print off online and put in a bowl for everyone to draw one. Depending on the attendees you can draw for free or for a fee.  One suggestion, if you draw for a fee, establish whether the winnings are for 1st place or 1st, 2nd, and 3rd BUT always give the last place horse number holder their money back.
  • If there are kids at the party, have a stick horse derby or a rubber ducky derby to add some fun.
  • Unless you are planning a fancy or formal Derby party, use paper plates, cups and cutlery to help with clean up. And feel free to ask people to help clean up.

Have fun, enjoy your guests, pull everyone together for “My Old Kentucky Home” and cheer like crazy for the beautiful thoroughbreds on the first Saturday in May.

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