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Melbourne Cup Carnival 2020 – The great tradition celebrated from your home! Part 4 – Words by Shiva Singam.

As the anticipation to the running of the 160th Lexus Melbourne Cup builds, we bet you are garnering the spirit to celebrate!

Still looking for more creative ideas on how to theme your Melbourne Cup Carnival party….

Melbourne My Style spoke with Shirin Pulitano, creative wunderkind and Director of Melbourne-based events and activations specialists, DOT DOT DASH, VRC’s creative partner for the development of flagship Melbourne Cup Carnival experiences for The Park and Myer Fashions of The Field and beyond.

When I think of spring racing I think of colour. One of my favourite flowers that can be found at this time of year is the coral coloured peony.  I recommend arranging these as single stems using small cut crystal or colourful glass vessels in varying heights along the length of your table to create a beautiful landscape. I also like to throw in other stems of flowers in hues of yellow, pink and purple to complement the coral; just place one or two varying stems in each vase or vessel. 

For those who prefer a more minimal approach, the aromatic white orchid cannot be passed by. A favourite with the Scandinavians for many years it is now definitely in vogue. I think these are best arranged in white ceramic, clear glass, and brass vases. If orchids are not for you, I recommend the more traditional hydrangea or a personal favourite of mine, the flowering dogwood.  

Shirin’s TIP: Buy your peonies a few days earlier to ensure they are open for the occasion. In my opinion, they are at optimum beauty when they are almost completely open a day or two before the petals start falling off. I always love the selection of amazing blooms at iconic Melbourne florist, Flowers Vasette.

Shirin’s Splurge: If you are looking to invest in a new vase you can’t go past the Fritz Hansen brass and glass table range available at Cult Design

When it comes to place settings, whether you are cooking at home or ordering from your favourite caterer, personalised menus and place cards are the perfect touch. At Dot Dot Dash we have in-house designers that create these for all our events but why not try to create your own.  There are some great free font resources online. For an easy elegant look mix a modern san serif font with a script and cursive font for headings and names.

Shirin’s Tip:  I like to use a thicker gsm stock for my menus and place cards that aren’t coated. Visit Paper Point online or in store for a great selection

Race days are the perfect time to dust off your favourite glassware if you aren’t like me and use them every day. The cut glass tumbler, enormous Bordeaux wine glass and champagne saucer on arrival are my go-to for elegant race day occasions. The Negroni and Champagne have definitely been the drink of choice for lock down and why break a 2020 tradition so don’t forget to pick up your favourite blanc de blanc to celebrate your wins.

I always set my plates on the table for guest arrival. Don’t shy away from colour or interesting shapes. I like to use a shallow bowl instead of a flat plate for mains. 

No table is complete without tasteful cutlery. Refrain from using disposable cutlery not only is it the more sustainable choice but also the most elegant. I like to choose a modern brass, nickel or black cutlery that will make any setting look polished and current. These variations are available at major low-price chain stores, so you don’t need to look too far or spend too much.

Shirin’s TIP:  As the preferred supplier for all things Melbourne Cup Carnival, Harry The Hirer has the most beautifully curated range of glassware and crockery for hire.  While you’re there you can also pick up all things related to napery, seating and some vases too.

Shirin’s Splurge: I love Dinosaur Designs for my salad service wear and ladles. They have a range of amazing colours that will complement any table and are hard wearing.

Never forego the linen napkin for special occasions.  Always make sure all linen is crispy clean and ironed.  When it comes to napkins you can experiment with different folds, but I tend not to be too fussy.  To get a contemporary look, fold your napkin on a diagonal twice and drape it on top of the plate with a point at the top or fold twice at the length for a long flat napkin that can be placed underneath your plate. Don’t be tempted to showcase that origami fold you learnt during those weeks home-schooling your 8-year-old.

Shirin’s Tip: I always love a fun print so if you’re crafty enough you can make your own linen napkins. Cut down and sew one of your mum’s pretty printed tablecloths into napkins if you dare or transform a cotton dress you once wore to the races. This would be a great story to share at the table.

I love using tapered candles for all my table settings day or night, lit or not lit.  I always have a selection of colours I can choose from on hand always.  My favourites at the moment are the warm amber colours or the cool pastel blue greys. When setting your table, it is always important to consider high and low elements and these long candles are a perfect way to add some height and some colour to any setting.

Shirin’s splurge: When planning an event at Dot Dot Dash we know it needs to be a multi-sensory experience. I always light a scented candle in every room when I entertain at home. My go-to favourites are Byredo Bibliotheque, Diptyque Baies, or Amber scents. The Diptyque range also comes in an outdoor candle for those who are taking their race day party outdoors.

Importantly, when selecting your menu don’t forget your garnish. A cheese platter can be elevated with sprigs of flowering thyme from your garden, cheese can be drizzled with honey on the honeycomb, and use a whole baguette to complete your cheese course.  

This same approach of garnish can be applied to each course and each drink. I like to experiment. Try basil leaves and orange peel in your gin or if in season still some Australian truffle shaved on top of your dish at the table is sure to wow your guests.

Shirin TIP: I like to get my micro herbs and edible flowers from Pino’s Fine Produce and my favourite fresh seeded baguettes from Bread Club.


Simplify your day and select from the wide choice of hamper options, delivered direct to your door on Carnival race-days, from the VRC’s affiliated caterers. Place your orders early to avoid disappointment!

See the coterie of Carnival inspired catering choices at the VRC’s Marketplace at the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival Official Website!

Remember, not long to go now till the Carnival so best get your orders in prontissimo!

And there you have it dear friends! Frock up, bring out the bubbly and chicken sandwiches and let’s all celebrate the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival in grand style.

Most importantly stay safe dear friends and readers!

Happy Carnival and Happy Racing!


Dot Dot Dash is a creative design and events agency specialising in experiential activations, interiors, corporate and private celebrations. They service a diverse set of clients across lifestyle, FMCG, fashion, sport, government, arts and finance sectors. 



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