It could be argued that the art of giving a toast is dying, but if you aren’t in the habit of giving a toast at the beginning of a meal or event, we encourage you to give it a try! It’s the perfect way to bring dignity to an event while recognizing someone special – even if those special people are just those who decided to spend their time at your party!
Ensure your guests’ glasses are full
If you are going to propose a toast, ensure your guests’ glasses are full ahead of time. At a smaller gathering, you can do this yourself. If it’s not your party, advise your host that you would like to make a toast, and ask them to ensure the guests glasses are full. At a larger event, ensure that you speak with the catering coordinator or the bar staff at least fifteen minutes ahead of time so they can do a round and ensure everyone has a glass to raise at the pivotal moment.
Get your guests’ attention
The first step is to get everyone’s attention. While a traditional way of doing this is to clink a glass with a spoon, this is not necessary. Simply clearing your throat and telling everyone that you would like to say something should suffice. At a small dinner, this is easy. At a larger party, you may need to lower the music and project your voice. At a large event, getting the band or DJ (or the person in charge of the sound system) will allow you to claim the stage for a moment or two to welcome everyone properly.
Keep it short
The key to giving a really great toast is to keep it short. You may want to simply thank your guests for coming. At a holiday party, perhaps you will also add your thanks for those who have been integral to your success throughout the previous year. If it’s a birthday or engagement, you will want to take a moment to recognize the guest of honour. Whatever your toast, keep it short and sweet – this is not a lecture, but a quick sentiment before a meal or other festivities begin, and you will lose your audience if you demand too much of their attention – they all want to get onto the meal or the entertainment! Consider it like an Oscars acceptance speech. The music will play and you will be escorted off the stage if you take to long, so be concise!
End with a sip
The easiest way to end a toast is by thanking your guests and taking a sip from your glass. This will signal others to either clink glasses, or take a sip themselves.
If you are the party or event host, or have honoured someone else in your toast, you may receive a reciprocal toast from the guest of honour or another guest, thanking you for hosting or for your kind words. The reciprocal toast will always be shorter, and requires just your thanks to the person toasting, as well as a clink of glasses, if that is how the other toaster chose to end their toast. If everyone is drinking to you, do not drink at the same time – this is considered poor toasting etiquette.
A bit on etiquette
If you are the honouree of the toast, do not drink or clink with the others. This is your time to smile and say thank you.
If clinking of glasses is involved, look each person you clink with in the eye. Every. Time. Linger for a moment with the eye contact – truly great toasters will always hold eye contact for a moment to connect with the other person.
“The Host Gets The Toast” is a good rule to remember. This means that the host of an event should have the opportunity to make the first toast. If you are a guest at a party and would like to propose a toast, your toast should follow the host. You can always speak with your host ahead of time and ask if they are planning a toast, and if not, if they would introduce your toast. If your host had not planned a toast, being introduced by your host (ie: Sally would like to say a few words…) tells the other guests you are not breaking etiquette or stealing the toast – that your host is on-board.