Cheers! The dos and don’ts of giving a toast

People toasting with wine.

There comes a time in every partygoer’s life when a quick “cheers” or “bottoms up” just won’t cut it. Learning how to give a proper toast is a rite of passage — and an ideal way to give a shout-out to your sidekicks in front of all their friends. Whether you’re clinking glasses with your nearest and dearest over a Friendsgiving feast or simply toasting to good times to come, here are our top 10 dos and dont’s for delivering a toast with the most.

DO read the room

Traditionally, the host makes the first toast, but for casual occasions this rule doesn’t necessarily apply. Make sure everyone’s arrived, is attentive and has full glasses — if not, go around and offer to fill guests’ glasses. Reading and prepping the room are key to a successful delivery — if the mood is off, your toast will fall flat.

DON’T wait until the last minute

A toast is meant to kick off an event rather than wind it down. It doesn’t have to start the second you walk in the door, but it should happen toward the beginning of a party. For instance, at a dinner party, it’s traditional to propose a toast as soon as the beverages have been served at the beginning of the meal, or just before dessert.

DO keep it short and sweet

“That toast was too short,” said no one ever. So as you stand with glass in hand, keep in mind that everyone is there to have a good time, not to listen to you ramble. Keep your toast to under a minute and your audience will thank you.

DON’T make it all about you

This is a toast made by you, not for you. You’re there to raise a glass (and everyone’s spirits), say a few kind words in anticipation of the night ahead and speak highly of the guest of honor if there is one.

DO thank the host

If you’re taking the time to deliver a toast, it’s only polite to thank your host. After all, they took the time to send the invitations, prepare for the party and bring everyone together — they deserve to be recognized for their hard work.

DON’T embarrass anyone

Remember, you’re toasting, not roasting. And poking fun at a party guest is not the same as being funny. At the end of the night, chances are nobody will remember your exact words. But they will remember embarrassing stories of shenanigans — and that’s not what you want your toast to be remembered for. Trust us, heartfelt and sincere (with a touch of humor) is the way to go.

DO make a joke to lighten the mood

The key here is to keep it classy. You can never go wrong with a well-timed, appropriately placed joke. But this isn’t Saturday Night Live, so don’t try too hard to be funny for the entire length of the toast — you want to seem witty, not clownish. And don’t forget who your audience is — swearing and certain kinds of humor aren’t always appropriate.

DON’T overdo the drinks

Having a drink beforehand might help take the edge off. But spare yourself some embarrassment — and a few laughs at your expense — by raising a glass before you’re three sheets to the wind. If you’re already there, just go up to the person you want to toast and do so personally.

DO tailor your toast to your audience.

Anyone can pull a quick line or two off the Internet. But if you’re looking to make your toast truly memorable, adding a personal touch is a surefire way to do so. Speaking from the heart is always better than falling back on clichés and movie quotes.

To sum it up: Begin by acknowledging the host and the guest of honor, include a funny anecdote from the past and wrap up with well wishes for the future. As long as you say something funny, something heartfelt and something about what your fellow partygoers mean to you, you’re well on your way to delivering a topnotch toast. Cheers!

Try out these toast-making tips by planning your next get-together with one of our dinner party invitations or cocktail party invitations.

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