Burns Night: Burns, Baby, Burns!


As I prepare for Burns Night 2017, I’m reflecting on the successes of both our First Burns Night, as well as last year’s festivities – which I never got around to posting. Perhaps it’s because I accidentally set myself on fire…hmm. Yeah, that happened. Farewell, adorable bolero jacket! But no, dear friends, ’twas merely a matter of time getting away from me. So let us take a gander back at Burns Night 2016, shall we? 

As I plan each event, it’s important to me that I’m not just rehashing the same party from the previous year. I’d like there to be a progression; and, though we will always honor the traditions that are inherent to the holiday, we want to incorporate those that we and our guests have created, as well. The hope is that this will ensure a unique experience for our guests.


We made our own e-invitation using Photoshop as I couldn’t find quite the right thing on Paperless Post or any of the other pre-made e-invitation sites.



Poor Emily, my photographer buddy, badly sprained one ankle and broke the other just a week or so before the party. You’ll still notice her watermark on many of these images, because that’s the kind of badass she is.








As you may know, there is a traditional run of show for Burns Night suppers. We adapted it in our inaugural year and pretty much stuck with it again this time, only adding the Toasts to the Lassies and Laddies. If you have writers, comedians, and/or actors in your group, ask them if they’d like to participate in this way! I’ll note, once again,you can find a definitive list for a tip-top traditional Burns Night running order on the BBC website.


Here comes the haggis!


And the scotch…whooph!



Burns Night Supper 2016 Schedule of Events

5:00pm – Highland Punch, Scottish music, and conversation
5:30pm – Chairperson’s Address & Welcome – Adapted from this book summary
5:45pm – Seating & The Selkirk Grace
First coarse – Cullen skink
Ceremonial procession of the haggis
To a Haggis
Main course – Haggis, lamb, tatties & neeps, rustic carrots
Dessert course – Cranachan, whiskey truffles, & decaffeinated coffee
Toast to Rabbie Burns
The Entertainments
Toast to the Lassies
Toast to the Laddies
Auld Lang Syne




The Menu

We made only a couple of tweaks to our menu from 2015. I’ll call this Traditional Burns American! I do wish we could get a proper haggis here, though. Sigh.

Cullen skink – I never thought I’d love a creamy fish stew, but this was the best!
The Haggis – We got a cheater haggis again this year, as well as a total cheater veggie haggis. You can neither get real haggis nor any of the proper entrails to make a proper haggis in the states.
Bryan’s Scottish lamb – Once again Bryan created his own main.
Tatties & neeps – Well, sort of. You see, I did the shopping and accidentally purchased PARSnips instead of TURnips. Oops! I tell you what: it was still good!
Rustic carrots – Adapted and simplified from THIS recipe.
Cranachan – Again I made one without whiskey for my non-drinking friend and made sure that the oats were gluten-free for my GF guests.
Chocolate whiskey truffles – Served with the Cranachan and, for my non-drinking friend, I substituted vanilla and cinnamon for the whiskey. Still tasty!

Cheeseboard – Including smoked salmon, Carr’s oat and wheat crackers, and a variety of cheeses from the British Isles.


Scotch Selection*

Once again we used scotch/whiskey blend Johnnie Walker Red for general toasts and the table. Our lowland scotch for special toasts was Auchentoshan 12 Year Old. We also made a Highland Punch (adapted from THIS recipe), which was a big hit! Our friends Chad and Abby also brought along a bottle of Old Pulteney, though I’m afraid I forget the year. Per their website, Old Pulteney “is one of the most northerly distilleries on the Scottish mainland” and is becoming one of my favorites! They also have a nice blog post with some Burns Night pointers.

*Drink responsibly, friends!








The Entertainments

I assigned additional readings to our guests to either do in addition to or in place of what they’d done the year before. It is always a pleasure to see and hear what people will do. The ridiculous and sometimes pretty excellent accents are pretty much my favorite part. We had a few newcomers to the evening this year, so it was also great fun to see how much they got into the festivities! There were far too many performed – including a couple of songs – to list here, so I’ll just give you this great reference website so you can choose your own: Burns Poems & Translations.



I know this photo has hideous soda cans in it, but there’s something about it I love because it is so evocative of those waning moments of a gathering.

As we prepare to raise our glasses to dear Rabbie Burns in 2017, I will leave you with this lovely video of our friend Chad singing Red, Red Rose….


*If you’d like more Burns Night inspiration, head over to my Pinterest!

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