Entertaining is something Pat and I love to do, but having three young kids makes it tricky. Finding time for shopping, prepping, cooking, tablescaping (because ‘setting’ just doesn’t cut it anymore), cleaning, and menu planning on top of everything else I have going on, entertaining often gets pushed down the priority list. So when Kohli Flick, owner and proprietor of Becket Hitch — my absolute favorite local gift store — offered to put together ideas for a family-friendly Preakness Party, I immediately took her up on it!

If you’ve ever been in Becket Hitch, Kohli has pretty impeccable taste. Clean lines, a little eclectic, beautifully modern. Her perfect Preakness party? Gorgeous and no-frills. Exactly how I like to entertain.

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

the food

We’re all busy. End of story. So take the stress off of the menu by enlisting the help of your favorite local market. In this case, Whole Foods! They made the fried chicken and we added a few kid-friendly salads (although they had a great selection, we could have just picked those up, too!).  

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

Here’s an ideal, picnic-inspired menu:

  • Fried Chicken 
  • Carrot and Apple Salad (because, you know, they’re the horses’ favorite treat! We shredded the carrots/apples and skipped the nuts)
  • Macaroni Salad
  • Cupcakes (instead of frosting, we used whipped cream)

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progenypreakness party with kids! - (cool) progenypreakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

the bevvies

Kids were thrilled with Strawberry Lemonade and adults sipped an authentic Pimm’s Cup. Yes, we know the traditional Preakness cocktail is the Black Eyed Susan. But as Kohli said, “I just love a good Pimm’s Cup!” Can’t argue. Deliciously refreshing. 

the tablescaping

There were three key elements to the decor: flowers, patterned napkins, and gold horses. The horses are miniature plastic ones from Michael’s spray painted gold. They doubled as a keep-em-busy play activity while the kids waited for their food. A great way to add a little Preakness glitz to your glassware, too.

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

Little touches go a long way and don’t have to be time consuming. Kohli made these cute cupcake toppers with black cardstock and toothpicks. They might be my favorite accessory!

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

I’m not sure when it was decided that kids’ tables were all plastic cloths and coloring pads, but Kohli opted to create a miniature version of the adults’ table instead of going the traditional kid route. Our pint-sized Preakness goers unanimously approved. Just a little bit of fancy.

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progenypreakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

Granted, I’ve known Kohli for a few years. But I knew we’d be LONG friends after she muttered these words: I don’t iron napkins. To keep things casual, food was served in a combination family/buffet style. Made for easy conversation — and nabbing seconds.

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

the activities

We all know the actual Preakness race is just over a mile. It doesn’t take long to complete; so actual race viewing is over in minutes. How do you keep the kiddos busy before and after? With a little canvas painting! All you need are a horse stencil (create from vinyl cling or make one out of cardstock), store-bought canvas, paint, brushes, and water.

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

Adhere vinyl horse clings to a store-bought canvas and let them paint.

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

Doesn’t matter if they paint over the vinyl. Let them go crazy! This is a great party activity for multi-age groups of kids.

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progenypreakness party with kids! - (cool) progenypreakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

After the paint dries, remove the vinyl. Instant wall art + party take home. Don’t you love when things pull double duty?

preakness party with kids! - (cool) progeny

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Kohli for having us over and Whole Foods Baltimore for partnering with us on this article! Photography by Laura Black.