Held on the first Tuesday in November, the Melbourne Cup seems to sneak up faster and faster each year. Although it may not be a public holiday for all (we’re looking at you Victoria), who says catching all the Melbourne Cup action from the trackside is the best way to celebrate? A fun Melbourne Cup party in the office can be just as exciting. It’s the corporate event of all corporate events! The perfect chance to share some good fun and delicious food with your colleagues.
From initial planning to cheering on your horse across the finish line, here is the ultimate guide, tips, tricks and ideas on how to throw the best Melbourne Cup party at work.
When planning an office party, it always pays to be organised and prepared from the get-go. You’ve got to think about Melbourne Cup office catering, games and activities, what kind of budget you have to play with, all while making sure there’s enough time in the day for everyone to have fun.
Not sure where to even start? Let us break it down for you.
Before sending an invitation out to the entire office, it’s crucial to get buy-in from your management team. A few questions to clear with them before you begin making plans:
Once all those details are confirmed, you can then send out your save-the-date notice to the office. Try and give them at least two to three weeks of lead-time (the more time the better, really) so they have plenty of space to make preparations and you have the numbers you need for catering.
You wouldn’t wear jeans and a t-shirt for the horse race, so why not invite the office to get dressed up for the day? Make it easy for everyone to participate by introducing a theme. Here are a few of our favourite ideas to help you get started:
Remember, not everyone will want to dress up, so if you’re going to specify a dress code on your invitation, make it optional.
Having party games and activities prepared on the day of the great race is a great way to entertain everyone. Below are a few Melbourne Cup office party favourites:
There’s nothing more important than the food and drink at your Melbourne Cup day party. It’s the biggest motivator to get your colleagues to leave their desks and socialise, so make sure you get it right.
A potluck doesn’t do justice to an event as prestige as the Melbourne Cup. Catered food is the ideal way to celebrate the race that stops the nation and there are many Melbourne Cup catering menu options that will suit your budget and needs.
A sit-down three-course lunch, buffet, a grazing table with food platters, an elegant cocktail party with gourmet finger food, or a classic high tea – the choices are endless. Just make sure there’s enough yummy bites for everyone, (and you've accounted for special diets) so no one goes hungry and there are no messy RSA issues by mid-afternoon.
Check out our ideas below for a great Melbourne Cup lunch:
Melbourne Cup day is all about the bubbly. But don’t forget to offer alternatives, such as beer, wine, soft drinks and water. We recommend getting alcohol delivered to the office a few days before Melbourne Cup. And don't forget glasses, ice and tubs to keep the drinks chilled. For Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or Canberra alcohol delivery orders, speak to our customer service superstars or order online from our website.
In the lead up to the Melbourne Cup, create excitement in the office. It’s going to work out to be a better day if people are excited in the lead up to the big day.
Set up a series of reminders to send to your colleagues in the lead up to the race. Send them fun emails and aim to deliver them:
Don’t forget to let staff know they should put their out-of-office alert on and divert any calls for the duration of the party.
As well as the desk decoration game, if budget allows, decorate the common areas or boardrooms with festive Melbourne Cup designs. Take inspiration from:
Transform your office into that classic Melbourne Cup carnival atmosphere to get everyone into the spirit.
Just like any other catered office event or party, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to receive the food and get it all set up.
Here are a few more handy food and drink tips to consider:
On the day of the event, there will be lots of moving parts, so it’s best to choose your very own Master of Ceremonies to help move things along. They’ll help organise games, award prizes and give notice to staff when the race starts.
Just because you’re in the office doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the races as if you were by the trackside. All you need is a television set and enough seating to support your staff. If you don’t have a common area or employee lounge area with a television, convert your boardroom or conference room into a mini theatre by projecting the live event directly on a blank wall or white screen.
Thinking of running a sweep for the office? Find out how to organise a Melbourne Cup sweep in the office and download your very own template here.
There’s nothing quite like gathering around the tv in the boardroom, watching your picks race one another, cheering as they each cross the finish line and patting the winners (and losers) on the back. After your staff luncheon, or before your afternoon nibbles, watching the race is surely one of the day’s highlights.
Not down with the lingo? We’ve got you covered.
Here’s all the essential terminology you might hear on the day of the big race.
Barriers: The starting gates in which each horse is separated into before the race begins
Cricket score odds: When the odds of a horse are very long, generally 100 or more
Derby: A race for horses 3 years old and over
Each way: A bet that’s placed to both win and place
Favourite: The shortest odds to win the event
Fixed odds: Fixed odds betting means you know the exact odds that you will receive when you place a bet
Front runner: A horse who is leading the field
Knocked up: A horse that gets tired during the race and is no longer competitive
Knuckled: When a horse stumbles or falls
The odds: The odds tell you how likely it is that each horse will win or place
Short odds and long odds: If you’re betting on a horse with short odds, it has a higher chance of winning, but if you bet on a horse with long odds, there is a lowered chance of a win, yet higher reward.
On the nose: To back a horse for the win only
Protest: An objection lodged against the winner after the completion of the race. This can be lodged by the jockey, trainer, connections or the stewards
Pulling: When a horse is over-racing
Stayer: A horse that performs best over long distance races
Stewards: Racing officials responsible for enforcing the rules of racing. Also called the ‘stipes’
Stone motherless: To finish in last position
Swooper: A horse who is positioned near the back before a fast finishing burst towards the end of the race
There you have it! Follow this complete guide and you’re guaranteed to host a great Melbourne Cup lunch that your colleagues will never forget. For even more information about Melbourne Cup food and drink catering, check out our special packages to suit all budgets and themes. Don't forget to download your sweeps template to get into the spirit!