Brief History of Toasting
Many of today’s revered traditions revolve around food and drink. Understandably, it is always a happy occasion when the larder is full and cups overflow with drinks. Part of this custom involves raising glasses of drinks and bumping them together to shouts of good cheer. According to lore, the bumping of cups served to deter poisoning as drinks tend to spill into other cups during the toast. It is also suggested that toasting was part of the ancient practice of making offerings to the gods in exchange for favors for a good life or good fortune. In the 17th century, drinks were flavored with spice toast as Shakespeare immortalized in “Merry Wives of Windsor” when Falstaff asked for a “…quart of sack; put a toast in’t.” At about this time, toasting became a popular sport, usually directed at the ladies who happened to be the toast of the night. Toastmasters were appointed to maintain the peace amid crowds of enthusiastic beaus eager to show off their verbal prowess while having a legitimate reason to carry on with the drinking. Games of drinking interlaced with elaborate toasts turned even more bizarre with the practice of drinking from a lady’s shoe to demonstrate devotion. Eventually, a backlash to these excesses ensued, and toasting became a more civilized custom, highlighting intellect and humor more than just the drinking.
Toasting Tips: How to get it Right
As the person offering the toast, you should project an air of cool confidence. This can only happen if you are comfortable with what you’re doing, so try to be yourself. The toast should look spontaneous and not forced, but to get to this stage, you will need to prepare ahead of time. Write your short speech ahead of the event, practice in front of a mirror, and have a dry run in front of a very small audience to make sure that you can edit out anything that could be misinterpreted.
Start by establishing your relationship with the honoree and proceed to the main reasons for the toast. Cite specific occasions and reference some of the guests present to draw the audience to your short speech.
Seek to entertain the audience.
Offering a toast is not an occasion to test your stand-up comedy act in front of a live audience, but you want to be witty and entertaining. Inject some humor into your speech to lighten the mood and soften the delivery. Keep your tone chatty and your content audience-friendly. Even with written toasts, humor has a way of making words sound more pleasant.
Raising a toast for a beloved friend or family member is an honor for the person toasting as much as it is for the honoree. It is important to come across as sincere in your felicitations because the privilege of offering a toast means that you share a special connection with the person being toasted.
Keep it short and sweet.
No one wants to listen to someone rambling especially if they have a gourmet meal in front of them. Keep your toast on point by preparing ahead of the occasion then editing down the original material. Remember that the attention span of the average adult is 15 to 20 minutes depending on the topic.
Sample Birthday Toasts
- It isn’t often that we are blessed to be in the presence of an exemplary human being. When the heavens rained down virtues and positive character, you must have been in the middle of it. You have shown us by your examples that blessings are to be shared with the world. Today, the world thanks you. Happy birthday!
- Romantic Birthday Toasts
- To one who has shown us at every turn that our gifts are not for us but gifts that should be shared with others, happy birthday! You may not have found the elusive fountain of youth, but you have certainly discovered the fountain of charity and good cheer.
- Sentimental Birthday Toasts
- I love you like the trees love the sun and the water; you help me grow, blossom, and love more everyday. Happy birthday, honey.
- My dearest love, may you and I live forever to share many more special moments like these into eternity. Happy birthday, darling.
- Birthday Toasts and Speeches for Loved Ones
- You are the biggest part of who I am. As Tom Cruise would say, you complete me. You mean the world to me, happy birthday, sweetie.
- May you and I love as long as we live, and love as long as we both shall live. Happy birthday my one true love.
Sample Wedding Toasts
- Two hearts brought together by fate. Two lives entwined for eternity. Two of the best people I have known promising to a lifelong commitment. I am not sure if this is wise or prudent. I know only that I wish you the best that married life has to offer. Congratulations and best wishes!
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- To the bride and groom who have thrown caution to the wind and decided to forsake the freedom of bachelorhood for the promise of wedded bliss, I wish you luck and best wishes. Congratulations!
- Samples and Tips for Great Wedding Speeches and Toasts
- To those of us jaded by life, weddings provide a ray of hope. New beginnings that signal a sea change and a promise of wonderful things to come. To the bride and groom, you are our hope that life goes on, no matter what. Congratulations!
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- To the bride and groom who have been trailblazers in every endeavor you attempted, go forth and blaze a trail of sunshine and joy in each other’s lives. Blessings and best wishes to you!
- Inspiring Wedding Quotes to Use in your Wedding Toast
- Congratulations on your wedding day. When times get tough, remember this day; remember the promises made and the vows you exchanged. The light you found in each other will see you through. Best wishes to you both.