Five top tips for the ultimate Burns Night party
Burns Night, devoted to the legendary Scottish poet Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns, takes place on or around the 25th January. We take a look at how to host your own party
Look the part
If you’re considering hosting a Burns Night supper without an inch of Scotch tartan, you may want to think again – this iconic criss-crossed coloured material is about as Scottish as you can get. Donning yourself head-to-toe in the tartan-clad formalwear is customary at any decent Burns Night celebration and will doubtless please any guests there for an all-out Scottish experience. Men, if you’re feeling brave, go for the kilt, but if subtlety is your thing, consider sporting a tartan bow tie. Women can wear a formal evening dress with a tartan sash.
Follow the format…or not
Depending on how formal you want to get, there is an order of events, which includes piping in the guests and piping in the haggis, toasts, speeches and entertainment. Okay, so a piper may not be a feasible option for the vast majority of Burns Night hosts, but you could always download something suitably rousing from Spotify.
The wee drams
Crucial for any good Burns Night, the drink takes centre stage. Dinner should be accompanied by liberal lashings of wine or ale and the haggis scan be splashed with neat whisky. After the meal it’s time for the whisky proper where you can discuss the merits of some fine single malt whiskies. Or try a blended whisky – the connoisseurs at Kingston’s Grey Horse recommend Sheep Dip – made from 16 different malts, Spice Tree – an aromatic and spicy whisky with hints of toffee, and Scallywag – made from the finest Speyside whiskies. For guests who may not be so keen on the stiff spirit, try a whisky cocktail: drop a sugar lump into a flute glass, add a measure of whisky and top with chilled Prosecco.
The main event
A controversial dish that gets a bad rep, haggis is the essential accoutrement to any Burns Night celebration. For those confused by what the dish actually is (vegetarians look away now), haggis is made up of sheep offal and minced innards, bulked up with oats. It’s relatively straightforward to prepare, with the authentic Scottish approach being to simmer the haggis in a pot for hours, but you can also bake in a casserole dish. There is now a vegetarian version of haggis so no excuse! Serve traditionally with neeps and tatties (mashed potatoes, turnips or swede).
Auld Lang Syne
This cheery song is most recognisable as a muffled mumble sung by drunken revellers as the New Year bells toll. As one of Robert Burns’ own, it’s only right this rousing song is sung as a cheers at the end of the evening. Company must cross over arms and sing the song with gusto, just be sure to Google the lyrics first.