Modern Etiquette: Guidelines for giving toasts

Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:47am EDT
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By Mary M. Mitchell

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Especially during the holidays, toasting can make even a meal at a fastfood restaurant a special occasion. It can impart a festive air to the gathering and has a way of bringing those present together.

One of my best memories is a pre-dawn toast in London. I had taken the "Flight From Hell" that arrived nearly a day late, due to a variety of mechanical problems.

My client gamely picked me up at the airport. We stopped for breakfast at some dingy travelers' restaurant, the only one open at that hour.

When our orange juice arrived, he stood and said, "To Mary, welcome. You are worth waiting for." Never mind that we looked silly. His warmth went a long way to defuse an anxious situation and put me at ease. That toast motivated me even more to do my very best in serving the client.

Here are some guidelines for toasting:

The host proposes a toast, often welcoming a guest, at the beginning of the meal. The toast also may occur in the middle of the meal, when the host raises his glass to the guest of honor, who properly should be seated on his right. If the host has stage fright, it is perfectly fine to have his or her spouse make the toast.

A wonderful example of a toast is one given at a dinner for Nobel Laureates in the State Dining Room at the White House.

President John F. Kennedy rose and said, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, ever gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined here alone."   Continued...