Picture this: You’re standing in front of a group of people and all eyes are on you. Beads of sweat start to form on your forehead. Your arm is raised, glass in hand, but then the unthinkable happens: Nothing comes out. The fears surrounding the formalities of a toast are very real for some... but they don’t have to be. Follow me as I navigate you through the mechanics, so you too can master a proper toast for holiday season and become the “toast of the town!”
Faux Pas and Superstitions
As we clink glasses, it is not unusual to hear someone say, “look into my eyes or forsake yourself to bad sex for seven years,” as many people believe in this superstition. But, I offer you another insight into the “looking into the eyes” tradition. In the past, it was commonplace for guests and hosts offering a toast to raise their glasses, make a simple nod and stare into each others’
eyes as confirmation that the toast was received.
Let’s examine the formalities. It is not considered in bad form (as some might have you believe) or bad luck to toast with water. As the recipient of the toast, don’t ever raise and sip from your glass during a toast in your honor. You would never toast yourself if you were on the receiving side of the toast, as this would be in bad form. Instead, you would receive your toast with much appreciation, only touching your glass, but not raising it or taking a sip. Afterwards, you would rise and give thanks back to your host with a toast in return; only then can you partake in your drink. But this rule is only reserved for toasts made to a guest of honor. When general toasts are made to a group, everyone may take a sip from their glass. Otherwise no one would be able to drink — and that is a party I would not want to attend.
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All About the Timing
There are two times when suggesting or delivering a toast is appropriate: at the beginning of a meal or right before dessert is served. To welcome guests, a host may wish to make a toast at the beginning of the meal. At this point the host may choose to remain seated or rise depending on the situation. Guests should not sip from their wine until the host takes the first sip. This gives the host the opportunity to make a toast before everyone engages in drink and conversation. If the toast is given before dessert, the host should rise, as most guests will be fully engulfed in conversation with each other and therefore it is easier to get their attention.
Set the Tone
Finally, the most worrisome part of a toast for many is well, of course, what to say. Please keep in mind you don’t have to give an award-winning performance to win people over. It is best to keep it simple and from the heart. Plan what you would like to say, perhaps even practice a bit. But don’t overdo it.
Whether you are the host or a guest, you are now armed with some of the finer points of the tradition surrounding a toast. So go out this holiday season with ease and confidence, and enjoy that glass of wine or Champagne knowing you are able to execute the perfect toast — or at least one that’s faux pas free!