Now for the rest of the evening you should be encouraging everyone at the table who has not taken part so far to get involved!
The staples of a Burns supper would be further readings of Burns poetry and verse and the singing of songs by Burns, but don’t force your guests to be constrained to works only by Burns. Ask if anyone has any other favourite poems they’d like to read, see who knows a tune on the guitar they can bash out for everyone to sing along or perhaps even a reading from a favourite book.
To help get people started on this we always have a few particular favourites printed out for anyone to grab and read. Of course our little stack of poems includes some classic Burns numbers (Ae Fond Kiss, A Red Red Rose, or for the braver souls Tam O’Shanter) but they live alongside more classic Australian fair like Banjo Paterson and there’s even a copy of Kubla Khan that has snuck in.
You’ll find once you start passing these around people get excited to jump up and read something, and soon enough you’ll have people pulling out phones and googling up the words for whatever else has popped into their heads. The same goes for the songs, print out some lyric sheets for some favourites, even if it’s just Wonderwall, and figure out which of your guests can strum a chord or two on the old Ukulele that’s gathering dust on the shelf.
You may wish to leave this part of the night as a surprise for your guests, or give them fair warning and suggest they bring along a favourite poem or song to do as a Party Piece. Either way it always turns out fun and even the shyest of guests will get around it!
Finally the night should wrap up with one final rendition of the Burns song Auld Lang Syne (which many will recognise as that song from New Year) and bid your guests farewell (bonus points if you load them up with the traditional Scots hangover cure of a can of Irn-Bru).
Thank you for joining us on the Burns Night journey, and we hope you all give the magical night a try!
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Article written by Ruairidh Finnigan, a Scot in Oz & a big Whisky Lover.