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Toast Tips

Here are some toast tips to keep in mind when it's your Toasting at a special occasionturn to make a toast:

Be yourself -- If you were Jay Leno, you'd make big money with your speeches. Even if you don't have the charisma of a TV superstar and don't know how to toast, you can still be charming and have an impact. Special occasions are events of the heart and call for remarks that tell how you feel about the person being honored.

Practice your toast.  This toast tip is the best safeguard against rambling – the unforgivable sin of toasting. Write out your toast. After you are familiar with it, rehearse in front of someone to get their feedback. Never assume that you can be spontaneous and the right words will come. People who don't follow this toast tip too often make fools out of themselves.

Champagne toasting glassesRemember your audience. Save the risqué remarks for the young, hip crowd. In gatherings that include children or senior citizens, keep it clean. Taste is relative so if you're in doubt about whether certain remarks or stories are appropriate, trust your gut. Leave the raunchy comments for another time.

Humor is good but don’t force yourself to be a comedian. The best toasts feel natural. Humor is a matter of timing, build-up and surprise and, for most of us, is not spontaneous. So practice. A funny master of ceremonies is unforgettable. When you make a toast with humor that misses the mark, you'll be embarrassed. 

Use personal stories. Toasts are the perfect opportunity to tell a story that reveals something about the person being honored. You have a unique perspective because of experiences you have shared with this special individual. Recall one or two moments that highlight your relationship or the honoree's character in a way that ties to the special occasion.

Plan ahead. There is nothing worse than a rambling speaker. While you don’t have to recite from memory, you must pay attention to the time. Depending on the event and the number of toasters, your remarks may be as short as 30 seconds or up to a few minutes. The fewer the  people making toasts, the more time you can use with your own toast or speech. toast glasses

Tributes can last longer. If you are at an event honoring someone, your remarks may last up to five minutes. One important toast tip -- find out ahead of time how many others will be involved in giving testimonials and follow the rule that the more speakers, the shorter the remarks.

Study the seating chart. Know where friends and family are seated so you can make eye contact with them and get some moral support. They will boost your confidence when you make a toast.

Don’t drink more than a few sips of wine during the toasting. This is a really important toast tip. Drinking may make you feel more relaxed but it can also impair your ability to speak clearly and your judgment about appropriate behavior.

Keep your tone chatty, funny and/or emotional and your timing short.

Be sure everyone has something to toast with. At a cocktail party, ask the waiters to come around and refill glasses when you are ready for the toasting to begin. At a seated dinner, you may want to have Champagne waiting at the tables if you want to begin the evening with toasts. If  the toasting will take place later in the meal, let the waiters know when it is time to serve or pour the champagne. 

It’s perfectly appropriate to make  toast with a beverage besides champagne including non-alcoholic drinks. In fact, you should always have a non-alcoholic alternative available for those who choose not to drink.

It's time to toast. Now that you know how to toast, get everyone’s attention by tapping on the glass with your dinner knife. If that doesn't work, stand up and announce that the toasting is about to begin, asking for everybody’s attention…repeatedly if you have to. You don't have to have complete silence to make a toast but wait patiently for the noise level to drop. 

Wedding toasts
Best man toasts
Father of the bride toasts
Toasting with champagne (and other beverages)