How to throw a show-stopping Melbourne Cup shindig

08 Oct 2017

Planning to host a Melbourne Cup function at home or work? Follow these simple steps to create a party with real pizazz.

The horse race that stops the nation is cantering quickly towards us, but not everyone is fortunate enough to be trackside at Melbourne’s iconic Melbourne Cup.

Fortunately for the rest of us, ‘Cup Day’ is still celebrated in households, workplaces and function venues across the country giving most of us the opportunity to attend, or even throw, a Melbourne Cup function.

If you’re hosting your own function, here’s how to get the most out of your Cup Day soiree.


The dress code

Frock up, or don’t bother rocking up! Encourage guests to don their race day best, which for women means elegant attire and for gents means a suit or tailored slacks, like chinos.

The icing on your outfit must be a hat or fascinator to match – you may not be trackside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel like you are! You’ll find a tonne of extra fashion tips on racing identity and journalist, Kate Waterhouse’s blog.


The drinks

The Melbourne Cup carnival is synonymous with Champagne – last year, punters at the Melbourne Cup consumed a staggering 46,570 bottles of the stuff!

Beyond bubbles, you could have fun with race-themed cocktails, like a Derby Julep, a Jockey Club or the delicious, ginger ale-based Horse’s Neck. For non-alcoholic options, go for elegant drinks like pink or ginger lemonade and mock champagne punches made with none alcoholic sparkling wine.


The food

In Western Australia, the big race is run around midday (3pm in Melbourne). Guests typically gather from around 11am onwards and can kick on well into the afternoon.

Hours of alcohol consumptions need to be married with an ample supply of food to ensure everyone drinks responsibly and feels fabulous all day.

Because the race is run at lunchtime, your guests are sure to be peckish. Typically, Melbourne Cup food is bite-sized and easy to eat so cater your party with platters of treats such as elegant short crust tartlets bursting with smooth, creamy fillings; crostini topped with smoked salmon and caper cream cheese; parmesan arancini bites; gourmet ribbon sandwiches; cheese and chorizo croquettes.

Alternatively, jump on the grazing table craze and offer your guests a beautifully designed tables laden with gourmet cheeses, cold meat cuts and antipasto. Not sure who to turn to for elegant Melbourne Cup catering? The Black Truffle offers a range options from entertaining platters to hot meals and bountiful grazing tables.


The décor

The general theme for Melbourne Cup day is fresh and floral, so while the colour palette is unlimited, the idea is to keep it classy. Fresh blooms to match your guests’ fab frocks and the jockeys’ guernseys is all you need to brighten the day.

Pair your freshly cut flowers with elegant white table cloths and simple crockery, cutlery and glassware. Speaking of which – make sure you have enough to serve your guests! You don’t want elegantly dressed men and women sipping from coffee mugs!


The entertainment

Of course, the main event should be the Melbourne Cup race. Make sure you’ve got a large TV tuned in to the right channel and set up where all your guests can get a clear view of the action.

Melbourne Cup functions are ALLLLL about the sweeps. Sweepstakes are a great way to include guests who aren’t interested in placing real bets and gets the whole party excited about the race. You can download a handy template to help organise a sweep. Alternatively, jot the horses’ names on pieces of paper then drop them into a hat. Let your guests draw names at random after contributing a couple of dollars to participate. You can divide the takings to reward first, second and third place, or winner takes all!

Another idea is to organise your own “fashions on the field” competition with prizes for various categories to get people into the spirit –  best-dressed female and male and best hat are two obvious categories to award.

Finally, what’s a party without music? Light, upbeat tunes will help retain the party atmosphere long after the race has ended. Search for dedicated cup collections on Spotify or iTunes


Consider getting your event catered. Either provide a lunch buffet, selection of canapés or perhaps a gorgeously designed grazing table. The Black Truffle has all these party options and more covered.