Food

A Vote for Toasts

How to Give a Toast

The last few times I’ve gotten together with friends for drinks or dinner, something unexpected has happened… Even though we weren’t there for anything in particular, someone at the table decided to give a spontaneous toast in honor of… being together. (Last weekend: “To pumpkin spice and Homeland!”) In our busy lives, just making the time to hang out is reason enough to celebrate, right? If you’re into this sweet ritual, here are a few fun tips about how to give toasts:

  • Stand Up The person giving a toast should stand if the gathering is more than just a few people, but I was surprised to hear that the toastee should stand, too. Pro tip: If you ever find yourself giving a toast on a boat, everyone should stay seated, a tradition based on the fact that old ships lacked enough headroom to stand.
  • Raise Your Glass Even if you’re not drinking, raise a glass, although some say raising water is bad luck. It’s another seafaring relic: Toasting with water will doom the toastee to a watery grave, according to superstition.
  • Clink (If You Dare) Legend says that the time-honored tradition of touching glasses comes from the fear that an enemy might poison your drink — clinking glasses would cause the drinks to spill into each other, requiring the toaster and toastee to share. Some experts say it’s more polite to simply raise your glass to eye level (without clinking), but the French clink while making eye contact, and that’s more fun anyway.
  • Skip the Sip If you’re the one who’s being toasted, you shouldn’t take a sip at the end. (It’s like applauding yourself.) Instead, simply acknowledge the toast with a smile and a thank you.
  • Who’s on First If you’re at a dinner party, ask the host if he or she would like to toast first, before speaking up yourself.
  • Don’t Overthink It If you’re not sure what to say, borrow a great line. A few favorites…

Here’s to us that are here, to you that are there, and the rest of us everywhere. — Rudyard Kipling

May the best of our past be the worst of our future. — Traditional Irish toast

I wish you all the joy you can wish. — Shakespeare

Here’s to water, water divine. It dews the grapes that give us wine. — Oliver Wendell Holmes

Here’s to those who wish us well, and those who don’t can go to hell. — Elaine Benes


What about you? Any favorite toasts? We’d love to hear…

P.S. Surprising wine etiquette and table manners. Plus, how beer’s taste alone gets you high.

(Photo by Nico Alary for Kinfolk.)

  1. Sandy says...

    I really enjoyed this post, and all of the comments! Here’s to your amazing blog and bringing people together from all corners of the earth – cheers and thank you!!

  2. Thank you so much for this helpful post :)
    More often than not, I’m a little stumped whenever I have to attend weddings and give a toast. This was a very insightful yet simple and concise post, and I’m sure I’ll be using this in the future <3

    xo, elizabeth t.

    http://clothestoyouuu.com/

  3. I love this post! I’ve become known for the one that will always find something to toast about. The act of having loved ones around a table is always reason to celebrate.

  4. Kara Nielsen says...

    May the roof above never fall in and the friends/family gathered below never fall out.

    (not sure of the origin of this toast, but I LOVE it!)

  5. Campai! It’s to the point, and fun to say!

  6. El says...

    Our family always says, “Holy, holy, round the table, eat as much as you are able… GO!”

    Always makes us smile :)

  7. this is such a fun post! My various groups of friends and families tend to be a big fan of the toast at all times. Another thing to go along with this is the cheers! My boyfriend and I were recently on vacation and would be cheersing with our morning coffee – just a nice acknowledgement how happy we were to be starting each day exploring Oregon (and not drinking a boring old cup of coffee at work.) it expands beyond your typical beer and wine cheers, though of course there was that.

  8. Jessica says...

    The Elaine Benes toast is my go-to!

  9. This is a great post. I’m currently living in China where the toasting etiquette is different again. Toasting is normally done with ‘baijiu’ which is a very strong liquor. The word for cheers is ‘ganbei’ but that actually translates as ‘dry glass’, so if someone says ‘ganbei’ you should really drain your glass…yikes!

    Another lovely custom is that when you clink glasses in China, you show respect to the other person by clinking at a lower point of their glass. So sometimes it’s a race to the bottom, to see if you can clink lower than the other person. Also, at a formal dinner, you don’t take a sip of wine or baijiu without toasting someone’s health or happiness etc. It’s rude to take a sip of alcohol just because you enjoy it. Quite complicated!

    • You must by now have developed a liking for ‘baijiu’?
      Thank you for sharing their custom :)

      Shruthi
      http://nyambura.co

  10. Most of the time I do a simple “cheers,” like when I’m out for dinner with friends or having a small family gathering but not really celebrating anything. But sometimes my dad will make a funny toast: “Here’s to us – because nobody else cares!” It makes me laugh every time.

    • Lily says...

      That seems like such a dad thing to say! I love it.

  11. Cat says...

    When I am drinking with just one friend, I say simply, “Here’s to you.” I always hope it makes my friends feel as special as they make me feel!

  12. We say “cheers!” at each meal and it is accompanied by something that happened that day. to snow, to Kruger being the star of the day, to Mom getting a haircut..etc. It’s fun and starts our meal of with a celebration. If we miss it, the kids remind us.

    • Simone says...

      I love this! Family dinner time traditions are so nice

  13. Meggan says...

    I enjoy all your posts, but this may be my favorite. Thank you for all of the tips and perspective in your posts. I am grateful and often inspired.

  14. Susan says...

    Hahaha! I thought this was going to be a post about avocado toast! Delightful.

  15. Samantha says...

    I don’t remember where did I hear about the seven years of bad sex if you don’t look into each other’s eyes, but since I told my friends and family, everyone is super strict about it and you see them looking at each other with crazy looking wide open eyes, it’s hilarious! *crying out of laughter emoji* I guess we take good sex very seriously. My family is Jewish so, toasting always happens when there’s alcohol involved, and even kids participate with their juice or soda and say ‘L’chaim’! I remember I really enjoyed the toasts, because it made me feel like part of the grownups :) I think it’d be a really nice idea for a dinner party to ask everyone to make a little toast, even if it’s two words long.

  16. my husband gave a great best man’s toast that started with “love is like peeing your pants. everyone can see it, but only you can feel it.” (mostly) everyone loved it.

  17. Diana says...

    A dear friend does the most fun Mexican toast. It goes something like this, with a glass in your hand you repeat and do the following:

    Arriba(up)… lift glass up
    Abajo(below)… lower glass down
    Al centro(center)… place glass to center and click glasses
    Adentro… means liquid goes inside you… drink

    It’s just so fun !

  18. Meredith W. says...

    My family has never practiced toasting, but my brother spent a few years in Prague and came home toasting everything and everyone. :) I truly love the practice and am so glad to have this collection of great ideas.

  19. Eye contact while clinking glasses here in France is VERY important. ;) You can’t get away with not doing it!

    • Yes! Otherwise it’s bad sex for seven years…

  20. Stephanie says...

    Love the tips! In a city as big and sometimes as lonely as New York, close friends can be the only thing that makes the city feel a little smaller.

    I’m a fashion blogger in NYC. To follow my adventures featuring the best of NYC’s fashion and food, check out sustenanceandstyle.com. Always looking to collaborate with new bloggers, so contact me! See you there xx

    – Stephanie

  21. Not quite the same as toasting at a dinner party, but my husband and I have a ritual where we toast to the day with our coffee cups every morning. We’ve hardly ever missed a day of toasting with our coffee!

    • Geny says...

      This is so cute!

  22. I didn’t know the person being toasted was supposed to not drink! I need to remember that!

  23. Nicole says...

    “If you cheat, cheat death,
    If you steal, steal the heart of a man(woman),
    If you lie, lie for a friend,
    If you drink, drink with me.”

    • Karinny says...

      LOVE THIS!!!

    • N says...

      Our friend always says:

      To lying, cheating, stealing, and drink–
      To lying down old grudges
      To cheating death
      To stealing away from bad company
      And to drinking with me!

  24. for a girls night, I love this one:

    here’s to the guys who love us,
    the losers who lost us,
    and the lucky bastards that get to meet us.

  25. Elizabeth says...

    When I first started dating my now husband, he told me to stand up at a party at his country club and give this toast: “Here’s to snatching kisses and kissing sn**ches!” I had no idea that was a vulgar word or what it meant…I was so embarrassed, but everyone LOVED it!

  26. “To the confusion of our enemies” has always been a favorite of mine :)

    • Lizzie says...

      Brilliant. I’m totally making that toast at our huge family Thanksgiving dinner this year.

  27. Morgane says...

    From a French fan of Cup of Jo: not only do we clink while looking into each other eyes, but the arms of the two people who toast shouldn’t cross the arms of two other people toasting at the sametime next to you. So you have to wait for the right moment (it all happens really fast!). Never clink with an empty glass or a glass with water (juice is ok). And always look into the other person’s eyes, otherwise someone will shout what we are all superstitious about in this case: ‘Seven years of bad sex!’ ;)

  28. Stef says...

    Here’s to you, here’s to me, best of friends we’ll always be. If by chance we don’t agree, f you, heres to me! hehehe

  29. Awads says...

    When we were single, my girlfriends and i always toasted: “here’s to the top, here’s to the middle, here’s to the hope that we all get a little…”. now that we are all married with kids, the “little” is followed by SLEEP!

  30. Susana Silva says...

    Thank you, Joanna!
    I’m struggling with some problems and feeling really nervous today. Reading your post made me laugh out loud when I read the lines proposed for toasting. Also it was very good to understand where some superstitions come from.
    See how therapeutical your blog is to me, it’s like going to the therapist for 5m and coming out much better.
    Big kiss.

  31. yael steren says...

    I love the idea of toasting, even if it is toasting to goofy things (like frosted flakes)!! Super fun post! xx yael

    http://www.yaelsteren.com/blog/

  32. My Canadian boyfriend INSISTS on clinking glasses every time we pour a new glass of wine, and teases me for regularly forgetting. We don’t always toast- but I think I’m going to add a little toast in every time we “Cheers!” from now on!

    • We toast every night. “To Monday!” “To the Blue Jays” – whatever. And always clink – is that a Canadian thing? – I’ve seen people cross a room to clink.

      My favourite toast when in mixed company of friends and family is “To friends who feel like family, and family who feel like friends.”

  33. joana says...

    in portugal, there are several superstitions related to toasting (something we do very often :). not everybody has them, of course, but i’ve noticed that in almost every toast someone mentions one of them at least!
    so:
    – everybody, including the person who is being toasted, has to take a sip
    – after the toast, you can’t put your glass down before taking a sip
    – you shouldn’t toast with water
    – you have to make eye contact (when there’s a lot of people it’s nearly impossible! i always try and usually fail :)
    – you can’t cross over someone else’s arm

    all these things are supposed to give you bad luck :)

    on a side note, as we are toasting here we all say “tchim-tchim” (the sound is impossible to pronounce for you :), which is kind of the sound of the glasses when they clink i guess :)

  34. I live in Switzerland and we cheers before every drink–one must make eye contact and clink glasses with every person at the table otherwise it’s bad sex for seven years. Yikes! As an American I’ve grown to really like the tradition and I think it helps build camaraderie, instead of everyone chugging beers on their own. We say, “zum wohl!”, which translates directly as “for the benefit” : )

  35. Manuela says...

    I like to give a sincere, off-the-cuff toast of gratitude for those present and the moment we’re experiencing together, even if it makes me feel a bit exposed. I know I’m always touched by a heartfelt toast.

    “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known.” – Brene Brown

  36. Leni says...

    I love the Spanish toast: “Salud, amor, dinero y el tiempo para gozarlos.” This translates as “Health, love and money and the time to enjoy them.” (although my Spanish is so bad I keep forgetting how the the last word goes :-))

    • Ashley says...

      My grandfather always gave that toast and now that he has passed my father gives it. It’s my favorite and I love how giving it before dinner sets such a fun and festive mood.

    • Simone says...

      That’s a nice toast!

  37. Sarah says...

    My now fiancé toasted to me on a beautiful dinner two years ago celebrating our first month of dating… It was just the two of us in a historic Italian restaurant and was the most romantic gesture. He still pulls out a toast here and there… Swoon. :)

  38. Liz says...

    An old sorority toast went,

    Here’s to the men we love
    And here’s to the men who love us.
    And if the men we love don’t love us,
    then f*** the men and here’s to us!

    I still think it’s one of the best girls-night toasts ever.

  39. Love this post! My boyfriend and I played this funny board game, Quelf, where one of the rules is to give this toast:
    “To ancient times and distant music!”
    It started out funny, but now I find it clever and sort of beautiful, so I use it every chance I get!

  40. What a fun post! We love toasting with friends, family, and when it is just my husband and me. We always go with spontaneous gratitude-based toasts. But I am definitely going to add some of these toasts to my repertoire. Haha… Especially the humerous ones. I think I will start this Thanksgiving. ;-)

  41. cate says...

    My family always toast “to absent friends” because while we’re happy to be together there are others we are missing.

  42. At our wedding my made a toast that my husband and I have used it ever since when our friends have gotten married…

    “May all your ups and downs be between sheets.”

    missjordanlee.blogspot.com

  43. Kali says...

    To tall ships and small ships and ships that sail the see
    But there’s no ship like friendship to here’s to you and me!

  44. Bess says...

    “Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends!”

    • Alison says...

      YES! My favorite. :)

  45. Allison says...

    from our pre-husband days… “Here’s to men we love. Here’s to men we don’t love. if the Men we love, don’t love us, f**k the men and here’s to us!” and we still use it :-)

    • Liz says...

      Haha, I just posted this one too. Did you learn yours in a sorority by any chance?

  46. Claire P says...

    My girlfriends and I have a default… “To making it count!”

    (Name that reference!)

    • Jody says...

      Titanic :)

    • Yes! I remember that beautiful scene in Titanic. Ah, Leo. So dreamy in his younger days.

    • Caro says...

      Haha! I just watched it today! So cool!

  47. Teree says...

    I always toast ‘To us’.
    Doesn’t that feel like a hug?

  48. Wonderful tips! I teach freshman rhetoric and have an impromptu speech assignment; the last chance to earn credit is to toast a classmate. I bring in sparkling grape juice and water, and it usually gets pretty festive with laughs and tears and students who have already delivered their impromptu speech asking if they can go again. I’m excited to share these suggestions with my students. Thanks!

    • Dee says...

      Melissa! What a blimin’ brilliant teacher you are, fab idea I’ll be using with my undergrads this side of the Atlantic.

  49. I’ve heard that the reason you clink is because hearing is the only sense not engaged by a drink, so that way it pleases all 5. Even if this isnt tradition, I’ve always liked the reasoning behind it.

    • What a lovely observation!

  50. Man these are some great toasts! Guess Im the only one who thought I was going to read receipes for things like avocado toast, marmalade toast, etc….

    • Alice says...

      Nope, me too! But I’ll go with the traditional Irish, I think.
      Fun post!

  51. TootieMcBear says...

    “May you be in Heaven a full half hour … before the devil knows you’re dead!” – The Peaky Blinders

  52. Clara says...

    My mother, who has never said a bad thing about anyone, always uses the following toast. Part of its magic is how utterly ridiculous this sounds coming from her:
    “Here’s to you, and here’s to me.
    May we never disagree.
    But if we do,
    Here’s to me. The hell with you.”

  53. Cynthia says...

    With grown sons who have traveled and lived far and wide, a once-spontaneous sentiment has now become a family tradition when we’re together: “To adventures and reunions!” Last night I toasted our son’s family with well wishes in their new home and our 4 year old granddaughter followed my toast with her own: “To our lovely new baby who is coming soon!” Die.

  54. Patricia says...

    When I was in my 20s, my roommate had this great book of toasts—raunchy, sentimental, clever, the works. Whenever we had friends over, it would make an appearance and we would pass it around and say (or shout, as the night got longer) the toasts. I wish I could remember some of them, but apparently the toasts got me too toasted.

  55. Lucy S says...

    My great grandmother (no longer with us sadly) went with:

    “Here’s to crime! May fornication flourish and buggery become a household word.”

    Usually abbreviated when in the presence of children….

  56. Erin H says...

    My family does this often with my grandfather’s old favorite — simply “to being together!”

  57. My two year old likes to click his milk, juice or water with us and say “cheers and m’chaim!” toddler translation: “cheers and l’chaim!” english translation: “cheers and to life!”

  58. Caitlin says...

    my brother and I share the same favorite for not so sentimental occasions. “Here’s to absent friends [thoughtful pause] f@#k ’em.”

  59. Laura says...

    My favourite-

    There are tall ships and small ships, and ships that sail the sea. But the best ship is friendship, and may it ever be.

    <3

  60. Amanda says...

    The Swiss and Germans demand both a clink and eye contact during the clink from everyone. Don’t make eye contact and you are both doomed to seven years of bad….sex. I assume it started as bad luck but I’ve been told its bad sex by so many people at this point that that interpretation seems to have taken hold. People do get bothered if you don’t look right into their eyes when clinking!

  61. Don’t know if this counts as a toast but at the end of a prayer to start a large family dinner the host always thanks every one who came and remarks on whatever occasion brought us all together. It’s a nice reminder of what a blessing it is to simple be in each other’s company :)

  62. Tyler says...

    My moms favorite irish toast: health and long life to ya, land without rent to ya, a child every year to ya, and may ya die in Ireland.

  63. Austin says...

    That was absurd. Let’s eat dead bird.
    -Home for the Holidays

    • bisbee says...

      Love that movie! I’ll have to watch it again soon!

  64. We toast as a family all the time! I always think it’s hilarious & a little naughty when my daughter is holding up her Nemo cup to my wine glass and my husband’s beer! But she loves it! She always says “let’s Toast mama” so we happily oblige, even if she says what’s in your cup! So I’m all for toasting! Tomorrow We are meeting with our lovely neighbors for family pizza night and I’m going to stand up and toast to good company & pizza!
    ~Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  65. Kathleen says...

    Toasting is fun, but what is daring about clinking glasses. I don’t get it?

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Oh, ha. We were referencing its origins with poison!

  66. My boyfriend toasts at almost every meal! Even if it’s monday night tacos, just the two of us, he’ll lift his glass (of water, milk, beer, whatever) and say “to Monday!” His whole family is constantly toasting – so different from mine, as no one in my family ever did this, even at big gatherings. It does remind me to stop and appreciate the small moments together.

  67. Katia says...

    In Russian culture, you toast everything and the toasts last all night. It’s actually strange to have a gathering where there isn’t a bevy of, somewhat, long-winded, sentimental and poetic toasts that almost always include a recounting of the immigration experience (if relevant). Before our wedding, we actually had to warn our non-Russian guests that getting through the toasts may take a while….that’s what the bottle of vodka on the table is for.

  68. Amy says...

    This is a great post. I’ve always loved giving toasts when my friends and I manage to be in the same place at once, especially over long dinners. Charles Bukowski has some “interesting” writing, but I do enjoy this short saying: Some men never live, and some men never die, but we’re all alive tonight!

  69. Michaela says...

    I used to always toast this with my irish Granny: “May we make it to Heaven before the Devil finds out we’re dead!” Ha!

  70. annie g says...

    Never heard any of these. In the olden days, if you were toasting someone, you had to drink the entire glass in one go. I always like “Good health!” as a cheery toast. Makes me feel all 18th century.

  71. Jorie says...

    If you’re ever at an all-female gathering (bridal shower, baby shower, girls’ night, etc.), I love this toast:

    Here’s to strong women.
    May we know them.
    May we be them.
    May we raise them.

    • I love that! I’m definitely saving it for later :]

  72. This post is awesome. I would absolutely toast to pumpkin spice and Homeland! We’ve been hoarding Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice pancake mix and Homeland was so good on Sunday, the moment it was over we watched it again! Here! Here!

  73. Jordan Carroll says...

    One of the funniest memories I have of my Father who passed away a few years ago was of him giving a toast at my sister’s rehearsal dinner. He had a great sense of humor, but was by no means a public speaker. Just when everyone was expecting a sentimental speech or toast, he simply raised his glass and said, “may all of your ups and downs by in bed!” The room erupted with both shock and laughter and now that’s my go to toast if I’m at a party that’s not too serious :)

  74. Jill says...

    My German father in law always says that you have to look people in the eye when you toast or it is 7 years of bad sex. My husband says this to all of our friends, so now we all look each other in the eyes when giving a toast!

    • Carly says...

      My German husband does the same thing. I always find the eye-contact toast really intense–plus, I’m stressed because I worry I’m going to miss someone!

  75. My favorite toast comes from the end of the 1985 movie Fandango.
    “Here’s to us, by God! To us, and privileges of youth.
    Here’s to us and what we were.
    And what we’ll be.”

  76. Lisa says...

    The looking in the eyes while clinking is done to prevent having seven years of bad sex … allegedly

    • Jill says...

      LOL….I just posted the exact same comment.

    • Tyler says...

      Yup, my friends family taught me that lol