toasting etiquette

Toasts can be a wonderful way to welcome someone, to make them feel important, and to mark special occasions. And, if you’ve found them tacky or anxiety-inducing before, I’ll give you an easy-to-follow toast protocol, whether you’re the guest or the host.

Let’s start with you being the guest.

Guest Etiquette Toast

If you suspect you might be the one who will be toasted, such as when you’re the guest of honor or when you’re the person central to the special occasion, then you can prepare accordingly.

First of all, check whether there are any cultural particularities that you need to be aware of. For example, different countries will use different types of drinks for their toasts. If you’re being toasted with a vodka shot in Russia, you have to down it in one go. If you’re being toasted with South Korean Soju, you should accept the cup with both hands.

Secondly, use your common sense. Things like only pouring yourself a drink, or overfilling your glass, or complaining about the quality of the liquor or service when you’re the guest sound impolite because they are indeed impolite. Don’t be an impolite guest. Even at a restaurant.

Lastly, it is good toast etiquette to toast your host in return. Smile and gracefully receive their welcome then, either right after they finish or sometime later, make a toast to thank them. Keep it short and sweet.

Toast Protocol For Hosts

With host etiquette toasting can be anything from a simple “welcome to the company!” to an entire speech about your lifelong friendship. I can’t cover how to write a speech in this post, but what you say is usually the most important part. So, make sure you research this aspect and ask for feedback from objective friends or family members. And, when in doubt, just keep it short and genuine.

But as for the rest of the etiquette toast, here is what you need to know:

  1. Don’t bang your glass with silverware to get attention unless absolutely necessary. It’s preferrable that you just stand up and say “may I have your attention, please?” to the guests.
  2. Pick your moment. It could be before, during, or after dinner. Just try not to choose a time when there’s a lot going on, like when the wait staff is serving everyone and the table is very busy.
  3. Look at the guest of honor as well as the other guests when making a toast. If there is no guest of honor, then make sure you glance at all the guests if possible.
  4. If you’re using wine or champagne, make sure you hold the glass from the stem.
  5. No need to clink your glass with other guests’ glasses. It can be quite a challenge, especially when there are many guests. Just raise your glass high and say a “cheers!” after your speech.

If you are not the host but you feel called to make a toast, toasting etiquette will require you to follow all of the above rules as well as an additional one: don’t do it before the host had their chance first and do not outshine their toast. Be humble, be kind, be polite.


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