Etiquette rules: how to make a toast at the dinner table when visiting

Yulia PoteriankoLife
A well-delivered toast should uplift the spirits of everyone at the table

It's hard to imagine most festive meals without brief speeches accompanied by a glass of wine, which we traditionally call toasts. However, remember how challenging it can be to wait for someone who is overly eloquent to finish speaking or how awkward it can be when it's your turn to make a toast. The rules of etiquette help you navigate such situations.

OBOZREVATEL offers guidance on how to prepare your dinner speech properly and how to behave when making toasts.

How to make toasts 

The privilege of making the first toast always belongs to the hosts of the party, so don't delay this moment. It's ideal to propose a toast as soon as the drinks are served, right before the meal begins, or before dessert.

If for some reason the host of the party cannot or does not want to make a toast, the first speech should honor them and be delivered by someone close to them.

Group toasts should generally be avoided unless the situation genuinely calls for it, such as at a wedding, when toasting the newlyweds, celebrating a team victory, or acknowledging a company's achievements.

To make a toast, stand up and capture everyone's attention. Avoid tapping your fork on a glass or coughing; it's better to politely state, "It's time for the next toast."

While giving your toast, focus your attention on the person it is dedicated to by making direct eye contact.

What to say when making a toast

You don't need to prepare an extensive speech or stand-up performance. Keep it concise, especially if the celebration is not about you, you're not very close to the honorees, or if public speaking isn't your forte. Your words should be the center of attention, not you personally. The toast should be engaging or heartfelt, not exhaustive. Share a short story or a fond memory but refrain from recounting every adventure or experience.

Toxic jokes, sarcasm, and mockery are rarely appropriate in a toast. Avoid putting the hosts of the celebration in an uncomfortable position. An exception might be when the company is accustomed to it. A good toast involves goodwill, sincerity, and polite humor.

It's advisable to prepare your toast in advance. Write down your speech on a card, practice it in front of a mirror, and you can even bring a cheat sheet. However, it's still better to speak without reading from the text.

Sincerity outweighs eloquence when giving a toast, so speak in simple, heartfelt phrases, just like in everyday conversations.

How to listen to toasts

The person being toasted should remain seated during the speech but listen attentively and respond to jokes or comments.

The recipient of the toast should not drink immediately after it's made. Instead, express gratitude for the kind words and wishes with a smile or a nod of the head. If you enjoyed the toast, clapping your hands is a nice gesture.

There's no need to empty your glass after the toast. Sip your drink or even something non-alcoholic. The idea that toasts must involve alcohol is a myth.

When someone is expressing their wishes, everyone at the table should stop eating and listen attentively. Put your cutlery aside. Continuing to eat signifies disrespect for both the speaker and the recipient of the toast.

Clinking glasses after the toast is not obligatory, particularly at a large table with many people. Avoid reaching over dishes and decorations, which can lead to accidents. Simply raise your glass and join in the wishes by saying, "Cheers," "To you," "Bittersweet," "Happy birthday," or another suitable short greeting for the occasion.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL told you how to behave politely during a conversation according to the rules of etiquette.

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