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Best party-planning apps for hosting a Kentucky Derby party in 2019

Plan your Kentucky Derby party from start to finish with the help of these apps.

The Kentucky Derby is almost here. On Friday, May 3, Oaks Day kicks off the festivities, and the famous race happens the next day. For many, May is the time of year for big hats, brightly colored seersucker suits, placing bets and mint juleps.

Instead of venturing into the unpredictable weather and crowds, you might host a Kentucky Derby party at home and watch the race on a big screen. Check out these party-planning apps to throw a bash your guests will be talking about for the rest of the year.


Before you begin planning your Derby party, you need to get an idea of how many guests will be there. You don't want to plan for a party of 50 only to have 10 show up and leave you with tons of uneaten food.

Use Evite (download for iOS or Android) to invite your guests with a personalized Kentucky Derby invitation. Use the templates provided in-app or design your own. Add the event name, time and location. And the send invitations via text or email.

Let your guests know what type of event you're having, like formal indoor seating or a relaxed outdoor get-together. Create polls to collect ideas for Derby games and food.

Track the RSVPs to see who has viewed your invitation, and who has accepted or declined. Nudge guests who haven't responded.


Evite app

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

Pro Party Planner

After you make the guest list, set a budget and create your shopping list for the event.

Pro Party Planner (download for iOS) will be your Derby party sidekick. Track your budget for food, decorations and fun party favors. Build a shopping list so you don't forget anything, like bourbon prizes. Set reminders for tasks you need to complete before the party.

Manage guests by sending them invitations and checking RSVPs in the app. If applicable, create a seating chart with Pro Party Planner's AR (augmented reality) tool and visualize what your event will look like.

Pro Party Planner costs $4.99 plus 99 cents per month.


Pro Party Planner app

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

Read: Kentucky Derby 2019: When the race starts, how to stream and more


Planning a party from scratch isn't easy, so gather inspiration from Pinterest (download for iOS or Android). Search for "Kentucky Derby Party Ideas" to see thousands of pins and boards with party designs. Just be sure to incorporate roses and horseshoes into your party theme.

Use Pinterest to learn how to make Derby-themed cookies and mint juleps, how to create a fascinator or design your hat, and more. On top of decorations, the app is helpful to find games for all ages, party favors and other Derby tips.


Pinterest app

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET


Begin planning the meals you're going to cook with BigNight (download for iOS). If you're hosting a formal Derby dinner party, create a menu for your guests. Name the menu and organize by courses, like drinks, appetizers and the main dish.

Import recipes from Pinterest or your favorite recipe website by using the in-app browser. Create a list of the ingredients you'll need, and check each item off the list as you shop. Once you start cooking, set reminders for each task, like when to start baking the chocolate bourbon pecan pie.

Other popular Derby dishes that you might consider making are the Kentucky Hot Brown, deviled eggs, country ham or bourbon balls.

BigNight costs $4 to download.

Read: How to do Derby 2019 like a boss


Big Night app

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

Cocktail Flow

Your guests will be impressed with your bartending skills (and that they didn't spend $14 on a drink) when you use Cocktail Flow (download for iOS or Android). The app gives you detailed drink recipes with ingredients you already have in your kitchen.

Be prepared by having a cocktail menu to offer your guests. Mint juleps, Woodford Spires and whiskey sours are all popular drinks at the Kentucky Derby. You can customize the drinks for your guests by liquor, drink type (tropical, creamy, shot) and strength (light, medium, strong).


Cocktail Flow app

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET


A good party doesn't last long without music. It puts people in a good mood and helps loosen them up when there's a good song playing.

Listen to the official music playlist for the Kentucky Derby called "Party Up At the Downs," or create your own race day playlist.

Search Kentucky Derby Party on your favorite music app, like Spotify (download for iOS or Android), Pandora (download for iOS or Android), Apple Music (download for iOS or Android) or YouTube (download for iOS or Android).


Spotify app

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET


Bet on horse races from the comfort of your home with TwinSpires (download for iOS or Android). Check out live streams of each horse race, including the Kentucky Derby, and other programs.

For a fun game, have your guests put 1 dollar in a jar and use it toward the main race. If your horse wins, keep it or split the earnings among everyone who participated.


Twinspires app

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET


Create fun polls for your party with SurveyMonkey (download for iOS or Android). Use the polls to decide who has the best fascinator or hat, or best Derby pie.

Set up the poll once everyone has arrived at the party and ask the guests to vote on their favorite. You can award the winner with a bottle of bourbon or homemade bourbon balls.


SurveyMonkey app

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET


Encourage your guests to download a ride-hailing app like Uber (download for iOS or Android) or Lyft (download for iOS or Android) to ensure they arrive home safely after a full day of drinking mint juleps and betting on horses. Uber and Lyft offer discounts for first-time users. 


Uber app

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET
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