From hats to Juleps: 4 quick tips for throwing a last-minute Kentucky Derby bash

PHOTO: Photo Illustration, PartyPlayHostess with the Mostess/Andi Perullo de Ledesma
WATCH Derby season is here!

Grab your big ol' hats and place your bets! Bring Louisville to you with a last-minute Kentucky Derby celebration.

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Here are some tips for hosting a Derby party.

Dress the part

Make it a must that your girls go glam for the bash with florals and bright hues. Oversized Southern Belle hats are a Derby staple. But if your hat inventory is low, try a DIY fascinator like the one shown below from The Polka Dot Chair. The fancier the hat, the luckier the bet--so encourage guests to get creative.
PHOTO: Friends pose at a Kentucky Derby-inspired party, which was featured on the blog, Hostess with the Mostess. Hostess with the Mostess/Andi Perullo de Ledesma
Friends pose at a Kentucky Derby-inspired party, which was featured on the blog, Hostess with the Mostess.
PHOTO: The blog, The Polka Dot Chair, shares their instructions for creating a DIY fascinator. The Polka Dot Chair
The blog, The Polka Dot Chair, shares their instructions for creating a DIY fascinator.

Print pretty betting cards

Have your pals wager on their favorite horses with these downloadable betting cards. The LittleLegelDesigns Etsy shop offers this cute glitter dot design for just $5.
PHOTO: These Kentucky Derby betting cards are available on Etsy.com as a digital download. LittleLegelDesigns via Etsy
These Kentucky Derby betting cards are available on Etsy.com as a digital download.

Mix a Mint Julep

The cool, classic bourbon drink has been a Kentucky Derby go-to for nearly a century. Refresh guests with this Slow & Low Julep recipe. What you need: 3 oz of Slow & Low Rye Whiskey 1/2 oz of Simple Syrup, preferably Demerara At least 10 springs of mint (Reserve 1 sprig for garnish) Crushed ice Copper, steel or aluminum cup

Method: Muddle whiskey and mint in a mix glass. Add one large cube of ice. Stir, but not so much as to dilute - a baker's dozen revolutions. Add liberal amounts of crushed ice to more than fill the tin cup. Fine strain contents of mix into a glass over crushed ice. Garnish with six mint leaves.

PHOTO: Slow & Low shared their Slow & Low Julep recipe in honor of the Kentucky Derby. Slow & Low
Slow & Low shared their "Slow & Low Julep" recipe in honor of the Kentucky Derby.

Whip up a classic Derby dish

Attempt this Giant Hot Brown from The Bourbon Country Cookbook to serve family style. The book is filled with Derby-inspired recipes and is sale now on Amazon.

What you need: 8 slices white bread, toasted 2 pounds roasted turkey breast, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices 4 cups Mornay sauce (recipe below) 12 strips bacon, cooked but not crisp 4 whole tomatoes, cut in wedges

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the toasted bread in half diagonally and place half of the toast points in the bottom of a 9 × 13-inch baking dish. Arrange the turkey breast on top of the bread and cover with the Mornay sauce.

Arrange the bacon on top of the sauce in a crisscross pattern. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top starts to brown and the sides are bubbling. Remove from the oven and place the tomato wedges on top. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are slightly cooked.

Remove from the oven and place the remaining toast points around the edges of the dish for garnish. Let cool slightly before serving. The Giant Hot Brown serves eight.

PHOTO: Seen in this photo, a Giant Hot Brown, which is featured in the Bourbon Country Cookbook. Bourbon Country Cookbook
Seen in this photo, a Giant Hot Brown, which is featured in the Bourbon Country Cookbook.

To make the Mornay cheese sauce, follow this recipe, also from The Bourbon Country Cookbook.

Melt one stick of unsalted butter in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Add eight tablespoons of all-purpose flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. While whisking, add four cups of whole milk in a slow stream and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes as the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat and add 5 ounces of coarsely grated Gruyère cheese, whisking until melted. Whisk in 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Serve immediately.