View From the Rail - How the Host Keeps it Stylish on Race Day

For those who've enjoyed tailgating along the rail at races like the My Lady's Manor Steeplechase Race (MLM) in April, you know the spreads are known as much for their attention to style details as for the food unpacked throughout the races. When the day begins with mimosas, salmon and home-made blueberry scones, you know it’s a fun race day ahead!

Whether it's My Lady's Manor, Preakness or Derby, the challenge is how to create a unique setting for your guests, with all the beautiful spreads on display? I’m sharing a few pictures, and simple ideas that can go a long way, based on two decades of race outings. It's about how to add a creative, artisan flare that makes it fun for everyone, it doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes, simple is better. We’ve spent many years taking in race days, since our kids were young, and we were trekking all our food and drinks around in backpacks from the muddy parking areas, all the way up to the grassy hillsides to watch the finish. It didn’t matter if it was the full picnic blanket action, or the big tailgate, style was part of the planning.

Even in those early years, we were fortunate to have connected with friends who always included special ceramic pieces as part of our decor. (A precursor to the launch of Red & Rugged perhaps?!) There’s no need for formal glassware that breaks easily and all looks the same. And the standard red solo cup won't fly here!  You can serve up your best sparkling or Cabernet in a hand-crafted ceramic tumbler that adds a personal touch.  One of the best things about ceramics is that no two pieces are alike, everyone goes home with a texture and finish to call their own.

For example, our hosts on MLM day have for years brought a bunch of ceramic cups that each of us could pick from at the start of the day! What a great way to treat your guests and give them a personal gift they’ll remember forever. It’s something we look forward to, and you bet we have all our ceramic cups from years gone by:

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And as you can see, even the younger generations know cool when they see it… Whether you're 25 years old or 55 years old, cool ceramic tumblers make the selfie:

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As far as centerpieces go, a ceramic vase filled with a fresh bouquet is all you need. Gorgeous! And easy:

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One thoughtful touch, include a basket of binoculars, so all your guests get a close up view of the finish: 


As you gear up for horse race season and the parties that follow, there's no need to be overly formal to host a classy event, instead be original, real, and bring a surprising new feel for your guests, one they will hold on to, and remember, for years to come!