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20-40-60 Etiquette: How to handle a toast with good cheer

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QUESTION: Does tradition dictate how a person accepts a toast in his honor? Are there rules about what I should do with my glass or what I should say? My co-workers are giving me a goodbye party and they plan to instigate toasts during the event. It makes me nervous.

CALLIE’S ANSWER: If you are going to say a “thank you toast,” plan it out in advance. Best advice is to keep it simple and short. If responding makes you uncomfortable, just talk to people during the party and say thank you individually.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: Keep your response natural and cheerful and say thanks as people toast you. As a person wraps up the toast, smile and raise your glass in their direction or clink the glasses of those around you. (It can sit on the table while they’re talking.) Are you nervous because you’ll be the center of attention? Or are you worried their toasts will be more like a roast from people making fun of you? Hopefully — and especially since it involves coworkers — they’ll keep their toasts pleasant and positive. Enjoy the evening in your honor and try to just roll with the toasts as they come. It probably would be good to have an idea of what you’ll say in response if people expect you to speak at the end, whether it’s a simple thank-you or brief-but-eloquent thoughts.

HELEN’S ANSWER: If you are the recipient of a toast, keep your drink on the table, or hold it while people are clinking their glasses. If you are expected to say something, hopefully you will write out the key points so you don’t forget anything. Keep it short. Raise your glass, and remember to thank your co-workers from your heart!

GUEST’S ANSWER: Brandon Bixler, assistant vice president, NBC Oklahoma: Tradition plays a role in how a person accepts and/or gives a toast. The host of the event is usually the first person to give a toast. To make sure the toast is successful, the host will need to have organized others to help quiet the crowd, as well as be prepared to speak once the host is done with the first toast.

As a recipient of a toast, try to keep the following rules: Keep eye contact with the speaker; don’t bang or clink your glass and feel free to raise your empty glass if you run out of liquid.

Finally, as a recipient of a toast you should understand how much hard work and effort other people put into this endeavor. You should toast the host and generally thank all participants. Finally, please enjoy the honored occasion!

Since 2009 Callie, Lillie-Beth and Helen have written this generational etiquette column. They also include guest responses from a wide range of ages each week. So many years later, Callie is 20-plus; Lillie-Beth, 40-plus and Helen, 60-plus.