You’re at a cocktail event or dinner party tonight and feel all warm and fuzzy. You feel compelled to make a toast — a warm, and sometimes even funny, sentiment to usher in the New Year. But wait…when is the right time and what should you say? What should you do? Here are some handy tips by etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, and author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach.
Follow the host’s lead. It’s appropriate for the host to propose a toast at the beginning of the meal to welcome all the guests. After the host makes his toast, anyone else can propose a toast.
Keep it brief. The toast is more memorable if you keep the three S’s in mind: keep it short, simple and sincere. Remember, you’re giving a toast, not a roast.
Toast during the beginning or at the end of the meal. A toast is most appropriate before everyone begins eating or during the dessert course.
Everyone drinks except the guest of honor. If you’re the one being toasted, don’t touch your glass or don’t drink to yourself. It’s like patting yourself on your own back. When the host sits down, you’ll be expected to return the toast and then you may drink.
Always participate in a toast. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, it’s perfectly acceptable to toast with a soft drink, a glass of sparkling cider, or mineral water. Or you can raise a glass of wine or champagne to your lips, pretend to drink it and then set it aside.
It’s not necessary to clink glasses. In some cultures, this is considered bad form and should be avoided. When in doubt, watch the host. If you’re in a small group, you should always look each person in the eye when you lift your glass. You can complete the toast by saying something like, “Cheers” or “Bottoms Up.”
Happy New Year!