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Toasting Etiquette: Do's and Don'ts

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New Year's Eve is here, and many of us will be in charge of heralding in the New Year with a compulsory toast. Before you spend one more moment of time worrying about how you'll propose a toast, follow these tips and start the New Year off on the right foot:
  • Do let the host lead. Typically, the host of the event will present the first toast of the evening. Something similar to this, "I'm happy we are all here to welcome the New Year together. Here's to a prosperous 2014."
  • Do get others involved. Nothing is more uncomfortable than standing up in front of a room full of friends or strangers to propose a toast while having your request to quiet down largely ignored. Instead, enlist the help of your colleagues and friends by asking them to assist in quieting their respective groups when they see you stand with your glass raised.
  • Do remember timing is everything. A successful toast is one that has been well-planned and rehearsed in advance. Mark Twain once said, "It usually takes three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech." A toast is no different. Think about the message you want to convey and say it in as few words as possible. A toast is not to be confused with a roast, and the shorter the toast the better. This allows the party to continue with the natural flow and will not distract or disrupt ongoing conversations.
  • Do raise your empty glass (in a pinch). When participating in a group toast and having found yourself without any liquid, simply raise your glass and pretend to take a drink. Stopping an entire room to refill your glass would stunt the momentum of the toast. It's always a good idea to have a glass filled with some type of liquid around the stroke of midnight in anticipation of a New Year's Eve toast.
  • Don't bang your glass. Rather than banging the side of your glass with a butter knife as you prepare to make your toast, lift your glass towards the center of the room to indicate you are about to begin.
  • Don't feel the need to clink. While traditionally, the clinking of glasses was a custom thought to drive away evil spirits, the only angry spirit today may be your host who won't appreciate you breaking their expensive champagne flute or wine glass. If someone reaches towards you for a clink, don't hesitate to reciprocate, but, it's not necessary to run around the table or room clinking each and every glass.
  • Don't drink to yourself. If the host proposes a toast in your honor, don't raise your glass or take a drink until everyone has taken a drink and put their glasses back down on the table. Taking a sip during your own toast would be similar to patting yourself on the back.
  • Don't forget to toast the host. It is no small feat to pull off a successful event, and honoring your host with a toast is a nice way to show your gratitude. Say something like, "Thank you for including all of us in such a fun and festive New Year's Eve party. You went out of your way to make this evening special and your hard work has certainly paid off. Here's to Lauren, a lovely and gracious host."
Cheers!

For more of my toasting tips, and timely etiquette advice, visit my blog, connect with me here on the Huffington Post, follow me on Pinterest and "like" me on Facebook at Protocol School of Texas.