Host a winning Indy 500 party

May 16, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. ET

The Indianapolis 500 is fast approaching. If you’re planning a race-themed party to commemorate the occasion, you’re in luck! Here are some ideas on race car décor that can give you the inspiration needed to design a stunning Indy 500 party.

1Checkered FlagCheckered décor

Black-and-white checkered décor is a must for Indy 500 decorations. At your nearest party supplies store, you're likely to find all kinds of checkered accessories, from flags and banners to napkins and plates. You can also set out black-and-white checkered tablecloths or create table runners using checkered fabric from your nearest craft and hobbies store.

2Race car props

Whether your party is for adults or kids, sprinkle toy cars throughout the areas where you'll be entertaining. Kent Whitaker, author of Checkered Flag Cooking, suggests positioning Matchbox cars on tables, as well as a Hot Wheels track. "I'm 45 and had a blast playing with some Hot Wheels set off to the side at a race party," he says.

3Traffic coneTraffic cones

For fun, bright centerpieces that are sure to capture your guests' attention and tie into your race car décor, purchase a set of orange traffic cones. You can leave the cones as they are, but they're also great for anchoring balloons, holding flowers or propping up checkered flags and party signage.

4Driver head shots and place cards

Another décor tip Whitaker offers is to print out large head shots of famous drivers and place them throughout the space where you'll be watching the race and entertaining guests.

To further integrate the Indy 500 drivers into your décor, design placecards for the food you will be serving, then give your food and drinks fun titles that incorporate the drivers' names. Jenny Cox, who entertains guests for the Indy 500 every year, says these placecards are one of the things her guests have enjoyed the most. "They say things like 'Franchitti Fruit Pizza,' 'Kanaan Cookies' and 'Matos Meatballs.' I usually dress the placecards up with a checkered flag in the corner," she explains.

5Helmets and related racing accessories

Racecar helmet

Rather than buying race-themed décor, you may be able to borrow items such as helmets or trophies from racing and automobile enthusiasts. "See if you know a local driver or team that has something they can loan," adds Whitaker. "Even dirt-track teams have cool race stuff. If Cousin Ted is a racer, tell him to bring a helmet or two for decorations."

With Indy 500 decorations like these, you and your guests will have no trouble at all getting into the race-day spirit!

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