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Toasting Etiquette - Tips for Raising a Glass

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Are you feeling a little toasty this holiday season? Would you love to be one of those people who can stand up at the drop of a hat and offer a clever toast? Do you hold back because you aren't sure what to say or do you resist the urge because you aren't sure of the correct protocol?

Few people seem to hold back for fear of committing a faux pas. Nevertheless there are rules regarding toasting and if you want to be the polished professional at the office party or the business dinner, here are a few pointers on the correct way to perform a toast:

The host should always be the one to start the process. Before beginning it is that person's responsibility to make sure that everyone's glass is full. After the host has offered a toast, others may follow suit.

Toasts should be short, simple and sincere. The five-page poem that covers the honoree's entire life up to that point is more appreciated by the one who wrote it rather than those who have to listen to it.

If the group is large, it is not necessary to clink glasses when a toast is made. Instead, just raise your glass and take a sip. If the group is small and you wish to touch glasses, look the other person in the eye when you do.

Use proper toasting etiquette. Sipping is safer than guzzling, especially if the toasting is going to be extensive.

Gentle is better than hearty when it comes to clinking. You don't want to be remembered as the one who smashed the glass and bathed everyone around you in red wine.

When you are finished, use a concluding phrase like "Here's to?" or offer a phrase such as "Cheers."

The recipient of the toast never drinks or raises a glass. Doing so is somewhat like patting yourself on the back. Instead, the person being toasted may rise following the toast and respond with a word of thanks or by offering another toast. There is no need to stand unless the recipient would like to say a few words in return.

Although it is traditional, alcohol is not necessary to perform the toast. Sparkling water, plain water or any other beverage may be used.

Finally if you want to avoid becoming tipsy while toasting, raise the glass to your lips, but don't drink. No one is watching to see if you are actually swallowing.

There are many occasions where a toast is appropriate including weddings, anniversaries, christenings, birthdays, reunions or for the birth of a child. If you know you will be attending one of these special occasions then you should prepare your toast in advance. Write it down, keep it brief and practice until you feel confident. Be sure to speak slowly and loud enough for all guests to hear. Start by stating the name of the honoree and your relationship to him or her. Offer a witty and memorable toast and you will be a sought after guest for all social occasions.

"No toast except his own should last longer than 60 seconds." - Mark Twain

© 2009, Lydia Ramsey. All rights reserved. Reprints welcomed so long as article and by-line are kept intact and all links made live.

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author featured in the Wall Street Journal and many other off-line and on-line publications. Lydia shares her business etiquette tips in her monthly e-zine, her blog and on Twitter. To register for these free services visit today!

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