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How to Throw a Traditional Burns Night Party for Family and Friends

Burns Night is an annual event, held on the 25th January each year as a means of celebrating the birth of the Scottish poet and lyricist, Robert Burns. Starting a few years after his death in 1796, it is now a celebration that many people – not just the Scots – enjoy!

How to Follow Burns Nights Traditions

Traditionally, everyone eats a little haggis (or as much as they want). It is either piped in by the bagpipes or a poem of Robert Burns is recited as the haggis is carried into the room.

The poem, ‘The Selkirk Grace’ is also read.

“Some haw meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat
Sae let the Lord be thankit.”

Of course, Robbie Burns is probably best known for writing Auld Lang Syne. This is the song sung as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Scottish or not, Burns Night has become a chance to get together with family and friends to enjoy what is left of winter before the spring arrives. It is also a chance to chase away the post-festive season blues.

And so, with this in mind, how can you create a fantastic Burns Night celebration?

Burns Night Supper

Auld Lang Syne is a song about lost friendships and becoming reacquainted and so, as parties go, Burns Night celebrations tend to be a sit-down meal for family and friends.

This means creating a menu that takes its roots from Scotland, although many argue that haggis is not as Scottish as we think.

Soup starter

Start your evening with a pleasant starter of Cock-a-leekie soup. Rich and warming, it chases away the chill of winter with a delicious combination of ingredients. This soup includes chicken, leeks and prunes. Super easy to whip up, it is the start of a pleasant meal together.

The main course – The haggis

The main course should centre around haggis. Traditionally, it was a savoury pudding of minced beef (or a selection of meats) with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, mixed with a little stock. Most people buy haggis rather than make it. Although, the days of it being encased in animal’s stomach are less common.

Cook the haggis according to the instructions (and make sure it is piping hot in the centre) and serve with mashed potatoes, mashed turnip or your other favourite veg. If you don’t fancy serving the haggis as it is, you can encase it in puff pastry and make haggis rolls.

Just don’t forget, that no matter what you do, you either pipe the haggis in or recite one of Burn’s poems.

Not everyone likes haggis – perhaps it is more the thought of the ingredients and the sheep stomach that they don’t find attractive. So you can serve a little of it alongside a Scottish stew.

Use root vegetables – parsnip, turnip and the like – and enjoy a rich gravy with Aberdeen Angus stewing beef. Tip into the slow cooker on the morning of your Burns Night celebrations and allow it to cook slowly over several hours.


Many people choose to serve Cranachan, a class choice for a Burns Night celebration. Mix cream, with raspberries and toasted oatmeal, along with the obligatory splash of whisky!

Decorate your Dining Room

Just because it isn’t a party as we know it, doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in Burns night party decorations. In some ways, they are similar to bonfire night. Think fire and warmth, taking the chill off a cold winter’s evening.

Use balloons to create a fun atmosphere and have plenty of tartan on show too. There are some great examples of people dressing up for a Burns Night meal. A kilt is almost obligatory, although whether Burns wore one is still contested. And of course, there are depictions of the well-known film ‘Highlander’ to help your guests along too.

There is no doubt that Robert Burns would have enjoyed the celebration of his life and works. And thus, you can create a fun atmosphere to your Burns Night. Not that we need much of an excuse to party!