20-40-60 Etiquette---Here's to you!
To ask an etiquette question, email helen at firstname.lastname@example.org
YOU ASK! WE ANSWER! YOU DECIDE!
By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace
QUESTION: I am pretty good at making toasts. I think a toast makes any party very special. Is there a set rule as to when toast should be given? How about dinners, or cocktail parties? Should I rehearse?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: When I think of a toast, I think of a holiday, birthday, anniversary or wedding. Always know your audience when giving a toast. Rehearse if you need to; it never hurts!
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: If you're the host at a special event, then you're the one to initiate it if you want to do so. Go ahead and rehearse. Depending on the crowd and the occasion, keep it heartfelt and sincere without getting too personal and without full of a lot of "you-had-to-be-there"moments. Storytelling is an art, and it sounds like you're already confident in your abilities to tell one. A quick toast to the honoree(s) or a spontaneous thank-you to a host in a smaller, more intimate setting is generally a nice gesture as long as your intention is not to upstage the event. Sometimes the host already has a plan for toasts, so be aware.
HELEN'S ANSWER: A toast makes a special occasion out of any event, and sincere words are always appreciated by the guests at cocktail parties, luncheons, dinners, weddings or dances. Toasts at social events should be short and sweet.
Practice your toast beforehand, and don't be the first person to give a toast unless you are asked to or you have taken the time to check with your host about what is appropriate.
It is always appropriate to toast the guest of honor or give a toast to thank the host.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Christina Nihira, journalist and local community volunteer: Toasts are often given during times of celebration such as weddings, New Year's Eve, births, tributes at memorial services and retirement parties. They offer a great way to honor not only a person but an item or place. And, interestingly enough this tradition is deeply rooted in history.
Such a customary ritual goes back many centuries. The "International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture" notes toasting “is probably a secular vestige of ancient sacrificial libations in which a sacred liquid was offered to the gods: blood or wine in exchange for a wish, a prayer summarized in the words ‘long life!’ or ‘to your health!"
Many times the event dictates the toast's timing. Obviously, weddings and funerals have a typical flow. Check with the host on the timeline for other occasions (unless you are the one coordinating the festivities).
And in advance, rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse. There is nothing worse than a speaker sputtering "ums", "you know" and "ers" out to an audience. No matter what the speech's content - funny, maudlin, crude or just plain sincere - the goal is to communicate effortlessly. Ultimately, you are there to celebrate someone or something special.
. To ask an etiquette question, email email@example.com.
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›
Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›