When Is It Appropriate to Give a Toast?

Man Giving a ToastThe toast is a time-honored tradition of social interaction that’s been practiced across the centuries in many different cultures. Today it’s still a common practice in the Western world, though the art of toasting has been mostly lost to a combination of the Internet age and poor language skills. At any rate, when is it appropriate to give a toast?

The short answer says that a toast is appropriate whenever the one offering it feels like doing so. But like most other complicated questions, the short answer doesn’t really do justice to the topic at hand. Lucky for you, we’re going to explain the art of toasting here.

What defines a legitimate toast?

To answer the question of when a toast is appropriate we must first define what makes a legitimate toast. According to Esquire magazine, the typical American toast involves a few not necessarily well-chosen words, a quick knocking of the glasses together, and down the hatch we go. Esquire claims there’s more to it than that.

Apparently a legitimate toast involves time. That’s time spent on coming up with words that are both unique and profound and time spent savoring the alcoholic beverage of choice. If Esquire is right, knocking beer bottles together every time a pretty girl walks by the bar does not constitute toasting.

If the famous men’s magazine is wrong it would appear all bets are off. It also means we are no closer to answering the question of toasting etiquette than when started. So let’s just move on to the next section of this post, shall we?

What are the most appropriate occasions for a toast?

In America, the most common reason for offering a toast is a wedding. If you’ve ever been the best man for a friend or family member you know exactly what we’re talking about. This is one of the most embarrassing things the typical male person will ever endure in his lifetime; second only to asking Suzie McDonald out for a date when you were thirteen.

A toast may also be appropriate at the birth of your first child, provided you wait until after the whole placenta thing. Come to think of it, you should probably wait until mom is discharged and everyone is determined to be happy and healthy. Also be sure to make your first toast with the mother of your child, not the guys from the bowling league.

Speaking of bowling, if you’re okay with the American-style toast, winning the league championship is another great opportunity. Hold those bottles high, give a big cheer for the entire team (except for gutter ball Larry), and knock those bottles together with plenty of gusto. Just don’t let your enthusiasm turn the bottles into shattered projectiles able to make their way across the bar.

Is it okay to offer a toast at the company holiday party?

Toasting at the company holiday party is tricky business. If done appropriately you could end up being the literal toast of the party; done inappropriately and you could come off as being smug, insincere, and a total jerk who, apparently, can’t hold his liquor.

The key to a good holiday party toast, according to Entrepreneur, is sentiment. If we’re understanding Entrepreneur correctly, the idea is to give a short speech designed to make people feel good about themselves, the company, or something they all have in common.

For example, a junior salesman could toast the great year the department had while pointing out the sacrifices Mary made by giving up a weekend with her kids in order to pursue the McGruder account. For a real special touch consider asking for a round of applause for both Mary and the department head.

Are there things I should avoid when toasting?

Regardless of the occasion, there are a couple of things you should avoid when toasting. The first is foul language.

Let’s be real folks, foul language doesn’t make you sound cool or impressive. It makes you sound like an immature teenager with a limited vocabulary and even less understanding of how to communicate effectively. If you must swear please confine it to team meetings on Monday morning when everyone’s feeling snarky anyway.

You might also want to stay away from any attempt at being humorous. Humor is a really strange thing; what may be sidesplitting to you may be offensive or boorish to others. Your witty jokes are probably best left for the bar and a small circle of friends you drink with regularly.

Lastly, avoid insisting that everyone participating in the toast be drinking alcohol. There are just some people who do not imbibe for any reason. Pushing the matter will only make you look like an arrogant snob with no consideration for others. You really may be that type of person, but everyone at the gathering doesn’t need to know. Let it be your little secret.

The art of the toast is one that can truly impress others if you know how to do it right. If you’ve got an important gathering coming up, we recommend you start researching how to toast appropriately if you want to impress.