The Thanksgiving table is set, the turkey is carved, and your guests are seated. As the host, you want to take a moment to welcome your guests and to express gratitude for family, friends, and blessings, but finding just the right words for the perfect toast can be a challenge. You might even be a little nervous at the thought of being the center of attention, but giving a memorable Thanksgiving toast is easier than you think. Follow this guide and you’ll be a pro.
MODERN TOASTING ETIQUETTE
Even the most informal of gatherings deserve a little pomp and ceremony at Thanksgiving. Knowing a bit about toasting etiquette can help you feel more confident about preparing your toast, but feel free to break any and all rules to make the moment perfect for you and your guests.
When to deliver your toast
Traditionally, the first toast is offered by the host at the beginning of the meal. If the meal will be opened by a prayer, the prayer is usually given once everyone is seated. Once the food has been passed, glasses filled, and your guests have had a few moments to chat, it’s time to deliver your toast.
How to get everyone’s attention
A simple way to get your guests attention is to stand and raise your glass. Tapping on your glass with a fork can have disastrous results to your Grandmother’s crystal, so you probably want to skip it. Open with a few introductory words to give everyone around the table a chance to notice you and stop talking. Simply saying “Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I’d like to make a toast.” followed by a brief pause gives you a chance to clear your throat and take a breath as everyone gives you their attention.
What to raise in your glass
Toasts are typically given with alcoholic beverages, but are just as festive with sparkling fruit juice or other drinks. While toasting with water used to be a no-no, today it’s perfectly acceptable. Did you know that you can also toast with an empty glass?
Fun idea: For a toast everyone will remember, garnish each glass of sparkling wine with a Toasting Sugar. When the toast is over, drop the Toasting Sugar gently into your glass, and watch the lovely bubbles and color transform your Champagne into a gorgeous cocktail.
How long to speak
When it comes to Thanksgiving, short and sweet is a good rule of thumb. It’s best to keep it under a minute knowing that everyone is anxious to enjoy the beautiful meal you’ve prepared.
How to give and receive guest toasts
Separate toasts are often raised to the host and absent friends and family. If you’re the guest, remember that toasts offered by others traditionally start during the dessert course.
If you’re the host, and one of your guests honors you with a toast of thanks for being the fabulous host you are, remain seated and don’t drink to yourself. Just smile and acknowledge the toast with a simple “Thank you.”
The first rule in giving a fabulous toast is to know your audience. Is your table filled with the closest of family and friends who love to laugh? Is someone present who has inspired you and others? Are you a military family? A group of foodies, or close friends celebrating Friendsgiving together?
Thinking about your guests and what you all have in common will help you find the right words to say. Given the holiday is all about gratitude, simply thinking about what you all, as a group, can be thankful for this year is a great start. Whether you quote someone you admire, or write the toast yourself, just speak from the heart. Your guests will be charmed and appreciative.
Everybody gets a little nervous when speaking in front of a crowd. Even if the crowd is full of your most loved family and friends, it’s easy to get the jitters when all eyes are on you, and you have to remember what you planned to say.
To help ease the nerves, spend a little time practicing your toast before the day. It’s not important that you remember every single word, just that you convey the sentiment. And there’s no shame in reading a quote you want to get just right from a notecard. If nervousness about remembering your toast is keeping you from doing it at all, go ahead and read the whole thing!
If you’re not a confident speaker and the thought of standing up at the table leaves you queasy, consider making your toast during pre-dinner cocktails in the family room. The setting will feel more relaxed, and you might feel less like you’re on stage than just gathered with your friends and family in a conversation.
After your toast, you might want to ask each guest to share what they are grateful for. Remember that not everyone is comfortable speaking in front of a group, so instead of going around the table and perhaps putting someone in an uncomfortable spot, just open up the floor for anyone who wants to share.
To keep the turkey from getting cold, you could start a One Word Toast. Each person at the table states, in one word, something they are grateful for, like ‘family,’ ‘health’, or ‘love.’
CHOOSE THE PERFECT QUOTE FOR YOUR THANKSGIVING TOAST
To spark ideas or to recite word for word, here are some fabulous Thanksgiving toasts based on famous quotes.
For the family that doesn’t get to see each other often enough
- “Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.” – Wilbur D. Nesbit
- “Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing.” – Unknown
- “Family like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.” – Unknown
For the family that doesn’t take itself too seriously
- “After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” – Oscar Wilde
- “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.” – Johnny Carson
- “May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey plump, may your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump. May your yams be delicious, and your pies take the prize, and may your Thanksgiving dinner, stay off your thighs!” – Grandpa Jones
For the Friendsgiving family
- “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
- “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accepts you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” – Unknown
- “Friendship is the wine of life; let’s drink of it, and to it.” – Unknown
For the activist family
- “We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” – Neal A. Maxwell
- “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” – W.T. Purkiser
- “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
- “Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.” – Theodore Roosevelt
For the thankful family
- “For each new morning with its light. For rest and shelter of the night. For health and food, for love and friends. For everything Thy goodness sends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.” – E.P. Powell
- “Reflect on your present blessings, Of which every man has many, Not on your past misfortunes, Of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens
For the family rooted in faith
- “For flowers that bloom about our feet; for tender grass, so fresh, so sweet; for song of bird, and hum of bee; for all things fair we hear or see, Father in heaven, we thank Thee!” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received.” – Storm Jameson
- “Dear Lord; we beg but one boon more:
Peace in the hearts of all men living,
peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving.”
– Joseph Auslander
For the literary family
- “Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.” – Ernest Hemingway
- “Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.” – William Shakespeare
- “I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” – Henry David Thoreau
Making a Thanksgiving toast your guests will remember requires nothing more than speaking from the heart. So raise a glass and express your gratitude with grace and style!
We can’t wait to hear from you. Share your favorite Thanksgiving toasts and traditions with @ArtisanSugars.