What are the elements of a toast?

Mar 13, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. ET

Contrary to commonalities, giving a toast is not just for the best man or maid of honor at a wedding. Nor is proclaiming “cheers” a mere friendly gesture only in the confines of a pub. No, the art of giving a toast and tossing up a “cheers” comes with a handbook of etiquette many people overlook. Here’s a quick reference for those plotting their next toast, for the curious bystanders on the dos and don’ts of toasting and those who wish to express something more in a celebratory “cheers.”

champange toast

And more
common etiquette!

Contrary to commonalities, giving a toast is not just for the best man or maid of honor at a wedding. Nor is proclaiming "cheers" a mere friendly gesture only in the confines of a pub. No, the art of giving a toast and tossing up a "cheers" comes with a handbook of etiquette many people overlook. Here's a quick reference for those plotting their next toast, for the curious bystanders on the dos and don'ts of toasting and those who wish to express something more in a celebratory "cheers."

 

 

Let us raise our glasses to these tips:

  • For hosts: If you are a host at a party, it is customary to give the first toast. Usually a list of thank yous will be just fine.
  • Clinking glasses: After a toast has been given, gently clink glasses with those closest to you. If you are sitting down, don't feel the need to leave your table and clink glasses with other people. Be aware to not spill — you don't want someone else wearing your red wine.
  • Large groups: If you are in a large group, don't feel the need to clink glasses. Simply raise your glass and sip.
  • A toast given to you: If someone is giving a toast to you (say if you're the bride or groom and people are giving their praises to you), it is improper to drink.
  • Length: Around 60 seconds will suffice. Enough to give your name, your relationship, some thank yous, perhaps a quote or funny joke and the closing "here's to" or "cheers."

In more casual settings when a speech is not necessary or simply not your style, you may want to go with "cheers" and a quick clink instead. Here's a look at some languages where "cheers" translate into more than a "cheers" and actually bids well to a person's life and health — as well as some fun translations applauding the art of drinking.

Note: In most countries, it is appropriate to establish eye contact with the person you're cheering with before clinking glasses.

Arabic (Egypt): ?? ???? (Fe-sahetek) Literally good luck

Hungarian: Egészségedre (Egg-esh ay-ged-reh) To your health

Hungarian: Fenékig (Fehn-eh-keg) Until the bottom of the glass

Japanese: ??Kanpai (Kan-pie) Dry the glass

Slovenian: Na zdravje (Naz-drah-vee) Literally on health

Vietnamese: M?t hai ba, yo (Moat-hi-bah-yo) One, two, three, yo

So whether you find yourself with a glass in hand, about to give a toast or in a place ready for international flair, remember these tips for your next toast. Cheers!

Related reading

The truth about drinking and your health
Spicing up wedding speeches
How to give a good wedding toast: 4 Tips

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