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.)