Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tips for Toasting

Toasting can make even a meal at the local diner a special occasion. It can add a festive air to a gathering and has a way of bringing everyone at the table together. The host proposes a toast, often welcoming a guest to a meal, at the beginning of the meal. The toast may also occur in the middle of the meal, when the host raises a glass to the guest of honor on his or her right. If the host has stage fright, it is acceptable to have his or her spouse make the toast. A guest may also propose a toast, but only after the host.

An example of an excellent toast was given at a dinner for Nobel Prize winners in the State Dining Room of 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.”
You don’t have to be that clever. A typical welcoming toast might be “I am so pleased that you all could be here to share each other’s good company and this good food. Welcome.”

Instead of offering the toast at the beginning, you might want to wait until the end. In that case, you could stand and toast the guest of honor this way, “I am so pleased that you could all be here to welcome my dear friend Florence, who’s come all the way from Rome to visit.” Or “It’s wonderful to have Florence with us tonight. Let’s toast a rare woman who looks at every situation in life as an opportunity to give of herself, to make things better, happier, and more fun. To Florence.” Or be even more specific: “I am particularly honored to have my mother-in-law with us tonight, jogging Jo Fleischmann—triathlete, pal, coach, and mom extraordinaire. To Jo.”

One-word toasts, such as the Danish skol and the Spanish salud, both of which mean “health,” are pretty much universally accepted as symbols of welcome. It’s a nice idea to toast people in their native tongue but be sure to use the correct pronunciation.
Some examples follow:
  • Irish: Slante (SLANT tay)
  • Yiddish: L’chaim (leh KHY yim)
  • German: Prosit (PRO sit)
  • Japanese: Kanpai (kahn pi)

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