Cheers to you!
How (and how not) to give a great birthday toast
Glasses have been clinked, conversation has been paused, and fate (or a harried host) has selected you to deliver a birthday toast. Here’s what you can do to compliment the living birthday cake out of the Guest of Honor.
- Remember: Your audience is pulling for you! They want you to succeed, and they know you’re trying to convey their feelings, too. Also, they don’t like feeling awkward any more than you do.
- Smile—speak—raise your glass—drink—smile—sit. That’s all you have to do. No one ever says, “That toast was too short.”
- Start with something semi-personal—a hobby like golf, for instance, or a Facebook addiction—and turn it into a compliment. Like this: “Jeff, we hope you have a great birthday, and remember…we love you more than you love golf!” Or… “Tina, we hope you have a great birthday…and we expect to hear all about it on Facebook!”
- If you can’t think of a personal angle, there’s no shame in just going for a warm compliment. Try one of these: “It might be your birthday party, Steve, but we’re the ones with something to celebrate because we know you.” Or… “Tonight we celebrate 30 years that Sara has made the world a better place to be, and here’s to the next 30!”
All done? Then it’s time for another drink and more cake, and everyone will remember that you were awesome. Or at least nice, which is actually better than awesome.
How NOT to deliver a toast
The following are actual snippets from actual birthday toasts that we actually made up to demonstrate what you should never do. The Guest of Honor is referred to as “(GOH).”
“I’m not saying (GOH) is old, but the birthday cake has been pre-chewed for easy swallowing.”
“Welcome, friends, family and the rest of you who showed up for free food and were invited so this wouldn’t seem so sad.”
“I’m not saying (GOH) is wild, but we should try really hard to remember every detail of what happens tonight for the inevitable police inquiry.”
“There’s really no one like (GOH). Thank heavens.”
“As anyone who’s slept with (GOH) knows…”
“Tonight we’re going to have as much fun as the strict rules described in the various restraining orders allow.”
“Let’s raise a glass to (GOH)! Technically speaking, not the worst person any of us knows.”
“I’ve known (GOH) since his/her Mom was hot…”
“I have a lot of deep feelings about (GOH)—feelings that can only be expressed in song. Here we go…”
“At an early age (GOH) showed signs of greatness. What happened?”
“Tonight we honor (GOH)! Tomorrow we desperately try to remember what we said.”