For 220 years, Burns suppers have been a way for Scots to come together and celebrate our national Bard with poetry, food, drink and joviality. Evidently this year will be different. But just because Burns night will be more muted in 2021, it doesn’t mean it can’t be special, with low-key celebrations offering an opportunity to try out new twists on old traditions. We’ve rounded up the best ways that you can enjoy Burns night at home, from virtual toasts to home-cooked haggis.

Enjoy a virtual party at the ‘World’s Biggest Online Burns Supper’

Unable to hold their normal fundraising Burns supper in Glasgow, charity Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland will instead host an online, live-streamed event on Burns Night. Hosted by comedian Fred MacAulay, the supper is set to feature a toast from Janey Godley, poetry recitals from Chris Tait and Bruce Fummey, as well as Travis frontman Fran Healy performing Auld Lang’s Syne.

The digital event is free to watch – though donations to SBH Scotland are welcomed – and will be streamed globally on YouTube and Facebook at 7pm on Monday night. SBH Scotland hopes it will be the most watched Burns event in the world.

Make your own haggis

No Burns supper is complete without haggis. So this year, why not make your own? Wedgwood the Restaurant, on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, is usually a favourite for diners on Burns Night, but head chef Paul Wedgwood has now shared his haggis recipe so you can recreate it at home.

You’ll need the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and tongue of one sheep, 500g of minced lamb, two large onions, 250g of medium ground oatmeal, 50ml of whisky and then one teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and dried mixed herbs.

Ask your butcher for one sheep’s stomach or ox secum. Clean and scald it thoroughly, turn inside out and soak overnight in cold salted water. (If not available use sausage casings). Wash the offal well in cold water. In a pan of salted boiling water add the heart, liver, tongue and lungs. Leave the windpipe trailing over the side of the pan. This should allow any impurities to be released. Cook for two hours. Remove from pan, without discarding the stock. Carefully remove the windpipe and mince all offal and mix with all dry ingredients.

Add the whisky. Use the reserved stock to moisten the mixture to desired consistency and pack into oven bags and bake in oven at 180 degrees for 90 minutes. Remember to prick the oven bag. Put small amount of stock in the tray with the bag. When cooked, open the bag very carefully, check the seasoning and serve topped with a layer of mashed neeps and creamed potato.

Order a Burns box to have all the hard work done for you

£23 for two people or £40 for four

Alternatively, if you don’t fancy the hassle of making your own supper, you can always just get someone to do it for you. Barnhill Farm, in Inchinnan, makes up a variety of meal boxes containing fresh local produce, available for collection or home delivery. This year they have prepared a three-course Burns night box, containing Cullen Skink soup, traditional haggis, peeled potato, diced swede, sliced leek and cranachan. The box for two people costs £23, or £40 for four people, but it’s a small price to pay for a hassle-free Burns Supper.

Make a whisky cocktail

Whisky and Burns Night have long been intertwined. But this year, rather than having a traditional dram, why not try making your own whisky cocktails? Single malt has had a bit of a reputational transformation in recent years: being offered in trendy cocktails in bars as it begins to shake off perceptions of stuffiness and rules around how it must be drunk.

The Glenlivet have a recipe for a warming, winter cocktail that will be perfect for curling up with after your supper. To make their Spiced Spey Coffee you’ll need 40ml of The Glenlivet 12 Year Old, 15ml of liquid chocolate, 10ml of sugar syrup, 75ml of filter coffee and one pinch of Cayenne pepper.

Warm a small wine glass, add the chocolate, whisky, coffee, syrup and cayenne pepper together and stir lightly. Once the ingredients are mixed, pour 40ml of lightly whipped double cream over the back of a spoon to create a creamy layer on top, then garnish with chocolate shavings and another small pinch of cayenne pepper.

Dance around to the virtual version of Celtic Connections

£7 for one concert or £40 for a festival pass

In non-Covid times, one of the highlights of going to an organised Burns supper is getting to whirl around the dancefloor during an after-dinner ceilidh, particularly when fuelled by a few drams.

But just because there won’t be any Burns ceilidhs going ahead this year, there’s nothing to stop you creating your own version in your living room.

There is, of course, the option of sticking on your favourite traditional songs on Spotify, or watching recorded ceilidh dances on YouTube, but what if you want it to feel a little more special?

The digital version of Celtic Connections might be a good place to start. Ordinarily one of the biggest festivals in the country, this year’s Celtic Connections (on until February 2nd) is digital-only, with a range of recorded concerts from some of the world’s best musicians.

For a ceilidh-friendly soundtrack, we recommend the performance from Blazin Fiddles, which is sure to get even the least enthusiastic dancers tapping their feet.

It was streamed on Friday night but is accessible until January 29 on the Celtic Connections website, for a cost of £7 (free if you have bought a festival pass).

Listen to famous voices reciting Burns

Sure, you can google a Burns poem and try to recite it yourself. But if you want to generate the gravitas and dramatic flair that’s worthy of the bard, the BBC gathered together some of Scotland’s most recognisable voices to recite Burns’ best works.

From Robert Carlyle reading To A Louse to Brian Cox reading To a Mouse, there’s also recitals from Alan Cumming, Laura Fraser, Robbie Coltrane and Shirley Henderson.

Each actor read several different poems for the programme, so you can use the website to pick your favourites to soundtrack your Burns supper. Once you’ve heard how the experts do it, you can then try giving it a go yourself…

Get the kids involved in some Burns crafts

Running late into the evening, Burns suppers aren’t usually child-friendly events. But with children currently off school, and Burns Night falling on a Monday, you could use this year as an opportunity to get them excited about our national bard.

The Activity Village ( has a range of Burns worksheets, word searches, colouring-in pictures and printable poetry that you can use to create a Burns-themed home-schooling lesson.

They’ve also got a blank Burns Supper menu that you can get kids to fill in, to get them involved in the dinner itself. Older children could then even help with the cooking (or perhaps potato peeling), while younger ones can be tasked with decorating the table in a suitably Scottish fashion.