Host Your Own Burns Night with WeeBox!

It may be many years old but the tradition of the Burns Supper is as fresh and enjoyable today as it ever was… so here’s how to enjoy a personal celebration of the Scottish bard, Robert Burns!

It is estimated that around 9.5 million people take part in a Burns Supper across the globe each year. It is a uniquely Scottish phenomenon that has been successfully exported worldwide!

How did it all begin?

Robert Burns Cottage

On July 21 1801, close friends of Burns held the first Burns Supper to mark the fifth anniversary of the bard’s death. They would never have guessed that nearly 220 years on this would have grown into a worldwide phenomenon.

The date of Burns Night soon switched to his birthday, January 25, thought it is not uncommon to hear of Suppers held from early January to late February.

Within a few years of the first dinner, Burns Suppers were held across Scotland, but in England, India, America and Jamaica too; with Canada, Australia and New Zealand following.

This spontaneous, global growth was because the Burns Supper was the kind of party Burns himself would have enjoyed. So what better way to showcase and celebrate his life, poems and songs?

Create Your Own Brigadoon!

Setting the scene at home is half the fun! Try creating lots of ambience with candlelight, tartan, thistle and red rose centrepieces and of course a well-laid table brimming over with a Scottish feast.

Some of your past WeeBox gifts can help to set the scene too! Your bonnie wee ceramic bothy is the perfect addition. Pop in a tea light and let it cast its warm glow on your Burns table. To welcome guests, hang your tweed bunting from December’s WeeBox – sure to bring a smile!

Running Order to Keep You Right!

Start with some Scottish music, candles and a table set with your finest tartan and tweeds. Make sure your glasses are filled with wines and whisky, and the table is spread with fruits, oatcakes and cheeses.

The Guid Man or Woman o’ the chair says a few introductory words (i.e. the host!) and then recite the Selkirk Grace:

Some hae 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!

Start with a warming cock a’leekie soup, followed by the main event of the haggis. Pipe the haggis in with some uplifting bagpipe music and then recite ‘The Address to a Haggis’. We’ve created the perfect playlist to guide you through the running order of your Burns supper.

Fill your dram and then toast to ‘The Haggis!’

The main meal of haggis, neeps and tatties is served – we recommend neat malt as a haggis sauce – followed by dessert, with our favourite Cranachan.

It’s Supper Time!

Savouring Scotland’s excellent food and drink is one of the highlights of the Burns Supper.

It is customary to serve three courses and here are our suggestions for inspiration.

Scottish Starters

Cullen Skink – the most indulgent warm chowder

Smoked salmon with dill and oatcakes

The Haggis

The haggis is the main event at a Burns Supper – if you can catch one that is! We would never attempt to make one from scratch, so definitely recommend buying your haggis (the best quality you can). Serve with neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and mashed potato), the buttery the better and our favourite, whisky cream sauce.

Pudding and Cheese Board

Cranachan – a Scottish favourite, this is toasted oats doused in whisky with raspberries, honey and whipped cream.

Rustle up your favourite cheeses (of course all the better if Scottish!) with oatcakes and a touch of quince. Often described on Scottish menus as ‘kebbuck an’bannocks‘.

Now to the whisky!

A Burns Supper must be one that the great man himself would have enjoyed, so a dram or two is a must! Alternatively, a non-alcoholic option could be a wee glass of our national drink, IRN-BRU.

Why not try your hand at this delicious Scottish cocktail too:

The Classic Claymore

Umeshu is a Japanese liqueur made by infusing rice wine with Ume, a relative of the plum. The liquid has nutty complexity as well as fruit sweetness. This depth and intrigue pairs beautifully with the honeyed fruit notes in The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old whisky to make for a lovely sweet and fruity winter cocktail.


  • 40ml The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old
  • 20ml Umeshu Plum Sake
  • Ripe plum for garnish


  • Stir ingredients with ice in a masking glass
  • Strain over ice in a rocks glass
  • Garnish with slices of ripe plum

Cocktail tip:
Feel free to adapt the proportions of the recipe – the two ingredients fit to gather so wonderfully that both drier whisky-led versions or well-stirred Sake-led ones are delicious.

And What Happens After the Meal?

After the meal is entertainment, usually starting with a Burns song or poem or two. Then comes the Immortal Memory, which should always be semi-serious, ending with the toast “to the immortal memory of Robert Burns”.

Old brown paper background

The Toast to the Lassies is given, followed by the Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, before as many more Burns poems and songs as you would like.

At the end, the Guid Man or Woman thanks all the entertainers and people behind the scenes, before everyone stands and sings Auld Lang Syne. Remember to cross your arms and join hands only when you get to the line: “And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere, and give’s a hand o’ thine”.

Above all, have fun as you celebrate your connection to the heritage and culture of Scotland!