The tradition of toasting has been practiced by almost every culture from the beginning of recorded history. Toasts are commonly expressions of love, friendship, health, honor, and wealth that are offered during holidays, or to commemorate special occasions. The origin of the toast is unclear. One thought is that the clinking of glasses was used to ward off evil spirits, while another is that the custom of touching glasses evolved from concerns about poisoning, where tapping glasses together would cause each drink to spill over into the others. Rites and rituals changed with cultures and regions. Today we raise our glasses at almost any gathering, with New Years being the most toasted celebration of all.
There are a few rules of etiquette when it comes to toasting time.
Who and When –
Traditionally, the host or hostess offers the first toast, the more informal the occasion, the less this “rule” applies. At a dinner table with friends, a guest can propose the first toast, usually as a way of thanking the host.
The only real guideline is to make sure that all the glasses are filled before toasting. The glasses don’t have to be filled with champagne or wine, it’s perfectly fine for non-drinkers to toast with water, juice, or a soft drink. Even an empty glass is better than nothing.
The host must attract the crowd’s attention before making his toast, which he does by standing and raising his glass – not by banging on a glass with a utensil. No matter how large and noisy the crowd, repeating “May I have your attention” as often as necessary is the more courteous option.
Sit or Stand –
When it comes to sitting or standing, do what comes naturally. If toasts are made over pre-dinner drinks in the living room, the toaster may want to stand. At the dinner table, the toaster may remain seated if the group is fairly small. A table of a dozen or more usually requires the toaster to stand so that people will be able to hear.
Although the host often stands as he delivers his toast, everyone else including the person or persons being toasted should remain seated. The exception is when the toaster asks everyone to “stand and raise your glasses.” The guests should respond by taking a sip of their drinks, not by draining the glass. The idea is to save enough of the beverage for any toasts that will follow. Toasters are usually expected to stand on formal occasions.
When to Toast –
If a toast is to be offered at a meal, the first usually comes at the very beginning. Traditionally, the first toast is offered by the host as a welcome to guests. Toasts offered by others start during the dessert course.
Toasting isn’t confined to a meal or special event. Spontaneous toasts are in order whenever they seem appropriate, as when someone raises his glass and offers good wishes or congratulations to his companions.
Replying to a Toast –
When toasted, the “toastee” should not stand, or drink to themselves. All the recipient needs do is sit and smile appreciatively. Once the toast is finished, a simple “thank you” to acknowledge is all that is required. The person toasted may then stand and raise their own glass to propose a toast to the host or anyone else they wish to honor.
Preparing a Toast –
Make sure to keep your toast short and to the point. If the toast is the primary toast of the evening, a short speech should be prepared. It is acceptable to use notes if you like when giving your toast. Including a few personal remarks, praise, or a relevant story or joke is good, but they should be in keeping with the occasion. Inside or crude humor is not appropriate, and making eye contact in a must when proposing a toast.
Spur of the Moment Toast –
Should you draw a blank if you’re suddenly asked to offer a toast, just remember that a few sincere and complimentary words are all you need. Thanking the host, wishing good health, or simply toasting the occasion are completely acceptable as long as the sentiment is from the heart.
Here are a few Toasts that may come in handy –
“Dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live every day as if it were your last.” ~Anonymous
“Here’s wishing you more happiness than all my words can tell. Not just along for New Year’s Eve but for all the year as well.” ~ Anonymous
“Here’s to the bright New Year and a fond farewell to the old. Here’s to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold.” ~ Anonymous
“Let us resolve to do the best we can with what we’ve got.” ~William Feather
“He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; He who makes one is a fool.” ~ F.M. Knowles
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
“May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.” ~ Traditional Irish toast
“As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.” ~ Anonymous
“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions!” ~ Joey Adams
“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other!” ~ Anonymous
“The Lord gives our relatives, Thank God we can choose our friends.” ~ Anonymous
“May you live to be 100 and may the last voice you hear be mine.” ~ Frank Sinatra
“Here’s to our friends, and the strength to put up with them.” ~ Anonymous
And just in case you are asked to saber a bottle of champagne, here’s a little refresher.
“Wishing everyone happiness, health, and wealth in the New Year”