This post comes from Sarah who makes sure all your orders are perfect and sorts out any issues and returns.
I am very embarrassed to admit that I have never been to a Burns Night. I work for a company that sells tartan tablecloths and napkins and all sorts of outfits and accessories for Burns Night celebrations all over the world but I haven’t ever witnessed one myself, so I have put this on my Bucket List of things to do. Compared to some of the items on my List, hosting a Burns Night will be pretty easy I think!
So what is there to prepare? Probably best to have a schedule to follow with a time frame I guess. Many of our customers leave it until the very last minute and while we of course try to accomodate all requests it is so much easier if we have a bit of time for custom made items. In this post we will leave aside your Burns Night outfit and concentrate on what you need to host the evening, then we will devote a whole post to "What to wear" so you have no excuses not to be perfectly dressed.
What do you need to host a memorable Burns celebration?
What size do you need? Grab your measuring tape
(or we can send you one) and remember that you will want it to hang at least 30cm or 12 inches over the table at either end and side.
Or Tartan napkins
If you don't fancy a tartan tablecloth with matching napkins then use a plain colour you have already and choose napkins with a stripe to bring out this colour. My tartan is Watson and it takes 3 weeks to make the tableware in my tartan, so best get my order in! (nb we can make it more quickly if you are running late but so much easier if you can give us some extra time.)
Or Tartan placemats and coasters
Brand new to ScotlandShop and just in time for the big event we can now make tablemats and coasters in any tartan or even printed with your clan crest. Great for using all the year round.
2. Cock-a-leekie soup followed by Haggis, Neeps and Tatties and finished off with Clootie Dumpling
My butcher does a fabulous haggis (Mr Waldie from Greenlaw) and if you are lucky enough to live in Scotland most good butchers will make their own haggis with a special secret ingredient. Or of course the famous MacSween haggis can be ordered online and delivered anywhere and they even do a vegetarian one if you have some non meat-eating guests. We have a local farm shop called Mr Neep where you can buy a whole bag of turnips and potatoes to accompany your haggis but don't worry any decent veg shop will have them.
4. A Wee Dram
We can't enter into what is the best Scotch, particularly when David Beckham is now trying to tempt us with his dashing good looks and Haig Club whisky, but choose the best that you can afford. The farm ScotlandShop looks out on grows barley for Glenmorangie so we are a little biased to this brand.
5. Speeches? What is the running order?
- Piping in the guests - this is more formal but if you have a friend who is a piper it is great fun and creates a good atmosphere.
- Chairman (woman)'s welcome - this is where I as the hostess welcome everyone
- The Selkirk grace - details on part one of the Burns Night blog series
- Piping in the haggis - more excuse to use your friend the piper if you have one. The haggis should be on a silver platter and is usually brought in by the chef (oh that'll be me) followed by the person you have asked to address the haggis. You can also have a whisky bearer (my husband will enjoy that job) to ensure the toasts are well lubricated.
- The Address to the haggis (words here
) - as soon as the final line "Gie her a haggis" is spoken there is a big cheer and we cut into the haggis (careful when you first pierce it as there have been a few nasty injuries as piping hot liquid is released)
- Toast to the haggis - raise a glass and shout: The haggis!
- First entertainment - a poem or Burns song - Anna's husband did a rap to My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose one year which went down very well and Tam O'Shanter is a popular one.
- The immortal memory - the BBC guide to Burns Night tell us that "the keynote speaker takes the stage to deliver a spell-binding oratoration on the life of Roberts Burns" but this can take many forms and comedy is welcome at less formal occasions.
- Second entertainment - more songs or poems
- Toast to the Lassies - designed to praise the role of women in the world today there are many comedy opportunities here! The ladies are then given their opportunity to reply.
6. Clever extras
Maybe some music so who do I know who can play the accordion so we can do a bit of celeidh to work off our haggis? I only know a guitarist so we might be singing instead of dancing. The evening finishes off with a big circle of joined hands and a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
Go on you know it will be fun. Plan your Burns Night now and remember we are on hand to help if you have any questions.