We love spring in Melbourne, there is so much happening, the sky is blue again, the flowers are glorious, birds are singing, and…it is Spring Racing time! The colour, the fashion, the glamour, the food, (the public holiday!) such an exciting time on the calendar. Oh yeah, and there are some horses that run around a track in a race that has been known to stop the nation.
If you’re thinking of hosting a Spring Racing soiree at your place this year, why not change things up a bit and trade in the snags and BBQ for something a bit more glamourous and memorable? We’ve found some easy DIY ideas and affordable theming options to get your creativity flowing to rival the high-society celebrity marquees out on the track.
Set the scene
A theme is what you need to really make this party stand out from your normal backyard BBQs. You could go traditional, such as black and white for Derby Day, bold colours and glamour for Cup Day, feminine romantic style for Oaks Day and relaxed anything goes for Emirates Stakes Family Day. Or perhaps just grab the ‘horsey’ theme and work it, think horse shoes, jockey silks, green grass and white picket fences. A Mad Hatter theme idea gives a quirky spin to the traditional hats, fascinators and headbands we all see at the track.
We’ve found some beaut ‘horsey’ inspo at our Montclair display home at Greenvale Gardens, Greenvale, Giddy Up!
We are a digital society who love everything in its express version, which is why we all favour the group text message, especially when it comes to a party invitation. So, be a bit different and create your own personalised invites drawing inspiration from ideas sourced from Pinterest and Etsy. But if scissors, glue sticks and envelope licking aren’t your thing, then an emailed homemade version is a great option.
The Food (and bubbles…)
When comes to the catering for your racing event, forward preparation and planning is the key. Look for options that can be semi-prepared ahead of time, so that the host is not left stuck in the kitchen all day feeding the hungry masses. Following the lead of the corporate marquees at the track go for miniature everything, and you must include smoked salmon in some form and chicken sandwiches are a must.
Plan for some fun novelty horse themed treats for your mini guests, a cupcake always impresses or definitely something on a stick! Look for the right balance of meat, seafood and vegetarian and keep it all light and fresh! It’s a good idea to plan some food for those that stick around long after the last race has been run!
Champagne is definitely the signature drink when it comes to true spring racing style, so make sure you start to stock up when you see your favourite bubbles come on sale. Check out this gorgeous DIY champagne ice bucket, what a stunner! For those less adventurous, pick yourself up a handy 20L Metal Drink Tub from Kmart for a touch of marquee style.
We found some more delicious finger food recipes at Taste Finger Food for the Melbourne Cup.
First up, do a quick audit of any horsey type accessories you might already have in your home and condense to the party room. Consider rearranging some furniture inside to allow for more room for guests to stand up, mingle, eat miniature food and ride home a winner. If you are lucky enough weather wise to have everyone outside dress up some trestle tables for a real garden party feel.
Lombards has some fantastic racing themed accessories such as mini trophies and wall decals, perfect to really get your event on track. For the DIYers among us, have a go at some homemade horse bunting in pretty florals or bright racing colours. Grab some cheap horse figurines from your local discount shop and give them a coat of spray paint for a really classy looking table topper!
Flowers, flowers, flowers
If you really want to stick with tradition go for floral arrangements featuring the iconic flower for each race day,
Derby Day - Cornflower
Melbourne Cup – Yellow Rose
Oaks Day – Pink Rose
Emirates Stakes – Red Rose
However, you really can’t go wrong if you just go floral in a big way, regardless of the variety. We love the idea of using vintage vases and upcycling old trophies, really fits in with the glamour and sophistication of a day at the races.
Fun and games
Amid the running of each race, the serving of miniature food and topping up bottomless glasses of champagne, surprise your guests with some extra fun activities. Everyone loves a ‘sweep’, it’s a great way to get the whole party involved. You can download sweep templates from the internet, or use the lift out from the weekend paper, and be sure to delegate all the tasks among the guests so no one is stuck with the lot.
A photo booth can be lots of fun for all ages and with some themed props, either downloaded from the Internet or homemade, you can create some lasting memories of your day!
A Melbourne Cup event just isn’t complete without some sort of fashions on the field parade. Let your guests strut their stuff on the red carpet, in between races, with awards for best dressed and most creative hat! Rev the kids up with egg and spoon or sack races for a bit of fun or how about a miniature Melbourne Cup in your own backyard with these cute inflatable horse bouncers from Kmart!
For a behind the scenes experience and to get the scoop direct from the design team, be sure to follow us on Instagram, @Carlislehomes.