Hosting a Melbourne Cup bash at the office

At 3pm on the first Tuesday of every November, the nation stops. Doctors pause their suturing, office workers look up from the printer they’re trying to unjam and tradies put down their tools, all to watch the annual Melbourne Cup take place.

For those of us who haven’t received an exclusive invitation to the Birdcage tent, we’ll be watching the race on a giant screen while we sip champagne in the boardroom. We’re here to help you throw a Melbourne Cup office bash that will make you feel like you’re standing next to Gai Waterhouse at the trackside.



Whether or not you choose the winner based on an intricate analysis of track conditions, or simply by the hilarity of the horse’s name, organising an office sweepstake is a great way to get everyone involved in the race.

When it comes to betting, it’s up to you and your colleagues as to how much money each person puts in and what the prize pool looks like. Will winner take all? Is there a prize for placing? Possibly even a token $2 prize for the horse that comes last? When asking people to put money into the prize pool, keep the dollar amount within reason so everyone can participate.

You can download and print a 2015 Melbourne Cup sweepstake sheet here. Simply cut out each horse’s name, mix them up in a bowl and ask each member of the office to pick one at random. Fingers crossed you pick the favourite!

Best dressed

best dressed

You have casual Fridays so why not dress up for race day Tuesday? The Melbourne Cup is a great excuse for everyone to go beyond the default office attire and add an outlandish fascinator or a quirky tie to their look.

Encourage people to dress up by hosting a “fashions on the field” style competition, awarding a bottle of champagne for the best-dressed man and the best-dressed woman. Not only does this encourage office cohesion, it also adds a bit of fun to the week and breaks up the day.

For gents looking to take home the prize, jazz up your suit with a bright patterned shirt, a mini-floral patterned tie and of course, a carnation lapel pin. Don’t be afraid to experiment with blue-toned suits that epitomise a fresh race day look.



Although the actual race is over before you’ve managed to take the third sip of your champagne, you can make the Melbourne Cup feel like an all-day event by decorating the office. Try and make the space feel like a members’ stand, adding floral garlands, bunting and a cardboard cut out of Bart Cummings. Changing up the work environment is a great way to reinspire your colleagues and break through the monotony of the working week.

Food & drink

food and drink

As you watch your horse round the last bend, overtake the favourite and claim victory, you’ll want some kind of alcoholic bereave to celebrate with, preferably something sparkling. Ensure you organise champagne for the office (think quality not quantity) and have it chilled and ready to be popped as horses exit the barrier. Remember that it is a Tuesday afternoon, so unless you have permission for a half day of work, keep the bubbles within reason.

If you want to go beyond the general mini quiches and cheese and crackers, why not ask each office member to bring in a plate of food? This turns the race into an office lunch where good food, good champagne and good conversation are flowing. You can also take advantage of the rich cultural diversity of your workplace by asking colleagues to bring in food from their cultural background, making for a dynamic office event.

Watching the race

watching the race

Let’s not forget, the race is the whole point of the food, champagne and the giant horseshoe you’ve spent hours constructing. An exciting, adrenaline inducing 2 minutes (you’ve got $5 riding on the favourite!) watching the race is something everyone can get involved in.

Make sure you’ve organised a large screen, preferably a projector, to watch the race on. Plan ahead so there aren’t any technical difficulties i.e. a blank screen just as the horses are rounding the last corner, and employ your best tech/AV specialist to hook up a live streaming connection.

Want to take out ‘best dressed?’ Shop here for your race day look!

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