A GUIDE TO TOASTING

a common act at social functions

Prepared by Carol Litteljohn, ATM-G

Toasting is as old as civilization itself. Like many symbols, Toasting goes back to the ancient Greeks who began toasting with wine as a good faith gesture, showing that the drink was not contaminated with poison.

Later, the Romans refined the custom by placing a piece of burnt bread in the glass, to mellow the flavour of the wine (and to hide any un-dissolved poison). The toast concept expanded until it became a safe drink that first honoured the gods an later honoured people.

Until the 1700's, Toasts were predominately made as a wish to "good health" and later became hopes for "happiness" and "good fortune" as well.

Toasts are offered for a variety of occasions : weddings, banquets, anniversaries, birthdays, retirement parties, dinner parties, before eating, before a keynote speaker and for the celebration of an accomplishment to name a few examples.

Current Toasts

A toast is a mini speech and, as such, it should have structure.  A toast is considered a tribute and should:

  • refer to the occasion,
  • reflect the theme,
  • refer to the achievement of the recipient,
  • express good will,
  • be formally proposed (tribute)

Reflection, comparison and suspense can also be included in the body.

A Toast is made to someone, rather than to inanimate objects which are not endowed with spirit or life.  There are rare occasions when A Toast to "something" such as "Spring" may be appropriate.

As part of your Toast, you ask the guest to "Please rise and charge your glasses to:_________________"  The phrase is then repeated by you and the guests in attendance.  For added impact, the phrase should be short and easy to repeat.

The word "charge" has numerous meanings including:

  • to assume heraldic bearing,
  • to level,
  • to place responsibility on,
  • to bring into a position for attack, and
  • to fill to the brim.

The current thought is that "to charge" is to "level".

Toasts are not applauded, the fact that everyone assembled expresses approval by joining in the tribute, acclaims the person being toasted.

Toasting Conventions

If seated, stand when offering the Toast

  • Avoid signalling for quiet by rapping on the drinking vessel with a spoon.
  • Do not toast the guest of honour before the host has the opportunity.
  • Champagne, wine, whiskey and beer are acceptable libations for a Toast and non-alcoholic beverages as well.
  • If necessary, toast with water or an empty glass rahter thatn not participating.
  • Do not raise your glass when you are the person being toasted.  Remain seated and respond with a "Thank  you".
  • Clinking glasses is thought to ward off the devil, as it is the sound similar to the tinkling of a bell.
  • In some wedding ceremonies, the glass is shattered, however for other occasions, refrain from smashing your glass in the fireplace.

A toast is tastier, if it is original.  A simple toast is the most sincere.
Be simple, be brief, be yourself and be prepared.

          Toasts are a test of your ability to find appropriate words to say what you
           mean and feel.  

Try to:

  • inspire,
  • inform,
  • motivate,
  • persuade
  • entertain.

A good Toast is hard to find but a good Toast will be remembered.  It is an opportunity for creative expression.  The sentiments:
"Salud", "Prosit", "Se he", or "L'Chaim" for example, can be expanded upon to imprint your message.

A Toast can be a: poem, public prayer, proverb, bit of wit, secret sentiment to be shared.  Avoid long windy political addresses.  Allow good judgment to prevail.  As we say in Alberta, "If you haven't struck oil in the first two minutes, stop boring".

Example of a Toast as a Mini Speech

Text of the Toast to Emma Collins on the occasion of Charter Night, October 5, 1999 at the Derrick Golf Club

"District Governor, Honoured Toastmasters and Special Guests;

(Theme)
There is an expression, 'What's in a Name?' TM has over 230 clubs in District 42 and each club has not only a charter number but a name as well.

(Comparison)
'What's in a name?'. Wells, some clubs have business names such as Shell, Esso, Tower Talk and Commerce. Some clubs have fun names such as the Honkers, Stubble-Jumpers, the Wanabes and the Bottom Line. There is but one club with the name of a person. The Peter Kossowan Communicators.

(Occasion)
This evening we are gathered together to charter yet a second club, this one named: the Emma Collins Advanced Toastmasters Club

(Achievement)
 'What's in a Name?' A number of vibrant Toastmasters came together under the name of Emma Collins which they feel symbolizes a high standard of excellence. Emma Collins, with her ongoing, outstanding contribution to Toastmasters enhances its spirit and ideals. Emma Collins, with her warmth, compassion and commitment emulates a philosophy that we all respect.

(Goodwill)
It is an honour to be a member of a club with this name.

(Tribute) 
Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and charge your glasses... and share a toast with me to: Our distinguished Emma Collins". 

(Audience and Speaker Response)
"Our Distinguished Emma Collins"

C. Litteljohn, 1:25 minutes


Examples of Toasts of Years Past

  • "Here's to us all. God Bless us every one".
    Charles Dickens in a Christmas Carol
     
  • "Here's mud in your eye".
    From World War II and a wish of good fortune to farmers
     
  • Here's looking at you kid".
    Casablanca
     
  • "Down the Hatch!" "Bottoms Up!" "Cheers!"
     
  • "May you live as long as you want and may you never want as long as you live".
     
  • "If at first you don't succeed, adjust your goals."
  • "May the work that you have be the play that you love".
  • "Happy Birthday to You."

      

 

Contact us: toasted@shaw.ca.
Copyright 2007 Toastmasters International Edmonton & Area
Last modified: January 29, 2005