16 Things You Need To Know About Throwing Your First Burns Supper
A complete guide to everything you need to know.
Consider your venue carefully.
You don’t need to go all out and hire a fancy venue, but if you’re going to be reeling, you need to make sure you’ve got enough room. Nothing worse than not having enough space for a spontaneous ceilidh.
Invite a good crowd.
Get all of your best pals together for the event. Food, music, drinking AND dancing? It’s basically just second Christmas.
Get your tartan on.
It’s not a Burns Supper if you ain’t got no tartan. You don’t have to be in a kilt or tartan trousers, but a piece of tartan material around the waist of your dress, or a pair of tartan socks will do the job.
Tartan decorations are a great idea too, you can get material fairly cheaply from haberdashers on the high street.
Food is important.
You don’t *have* to have Haggis, but I’m not sure Rabbie Burns himself would be pleased if you didn’t. If you don’t want to serve it as your main course, you could always involve it in a starter instead.
Some alternatives to the main event include haggis nachos, haggis pizza and a haggis Scotch Egg, all of which can be found here.
Add some accompaniments.
Neeps (turnip or swede, depending on what you believe) and tatties (potatoes) are the obvious choice, but you don’t have to be limited to this sea of beige mash. Go wild with some colour, green beans or carrots perhaps, to make sure you’re getting your five a day.
Consider any vegetarian friends.
If you’ve got vegetarians on your guest list, panic not, you can get a good veggie haggis option. All the excitement, but with none of the sheep’s intestine.
Stock up on booze.
Like any party, a Burns Supper benefits form the addition of alcohol. You can keep it Scottish, but the general rule is that any booze is welcome.
If you do want to have a Scottish theme in the drinks department, whisky cocktails can be a great alternative way of serving up a wee dram. With names like A Highland Fling, The Rob Roy and The Flying Scotsman, you can’t go wrong.
Prepare your pudding.
You can make pretty much any pudding a Scottish pudding with the addition of Whisky, but why not give Cranachan a whirl? Whisky, honey, oatmeal and raspberries = a taste sensation.
It’s a really simple dessert to make, as this recipe proves.
Addressing the Haggis.
At a sweet eight verses long, the ode to the haggis was written by Burns to celebrate his appreciation of the delicious meal. If you don’t fancy reciting the whole thing (I don’t blame you), just stick with the first and last verses. You can find the whole thing here.
For a good night, you need good music.
Depending on how dedicated you are to your party, you could hire a ceilidh band to provide the music for your evening. However, a Spotify playlist would do the job for a fraction of the price (for free even, if you don’t mind adverts for railcards interrupting your evening). There are ready made ceilidh playlists available, so you don’t have to worry about trying to put together your own.
Also, can we just take a minute to appreciate the fact that this band above is called ‘Ceilidh Minogue’. Brilliant.
Decide on the dances.
A ceilidh makes a Burns Supper approximately one million times better. It doesn’t have to be an organised event, just push the table and chairs out of the way in your dining room and you’ve got yourself a dance floor.
Just Google ‘Scottish Country Dancing Tutorials’ and hit up YouTube for a plethora of videos; you’ll be a pro in no time. This video takes you through the routine for Strip the Willow, and you can find several other tutorials on the same site.
Again, if you’re really invested in your Burns Supper, you could get together with your pals and practise in advance.
Another optional extra, this time from the comfort of your back garden. Who doesn’t love being forced out into the cold to watch fireworks to celebrate any occasion?
Make your Hot Toddies in advance.
Whip up a batch of hot toddies earlier in the day, ready for later on in the evening to warm the cockles whilst your watching fireworks. Or just to warm the cockles without the fireworks.
All you need is whisky, water, sugar/honey and some spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, lemon, and a recipe, which can be found here.
Auld Lang Syne’s a favourite.
Auld Lang Syne, one of Burns’s most famous works, is sung to bring the evening to a close, usually at the end of the ceilidh.
Get in a good supply of bacon.
Whether you serve up bacon rolls before everyone goes to bed, or when they get up in the morning, they form an integral part of the programme. The only question is, red sauce or broon?
Stock the fridge with Irn Bru.
The most effective hangover cure in the land, could there be a more Scottish way to finish the celebrations?