By Kevin P. Donald
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Format:ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD
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How to Use This Book
Unless you are a seasoned motivational speaker or are otherwise used to addressing large groups of people, you may feel nervous about talking in front of a crowd, not to mention having to sound intelligent, witty, and warm, too. But your anxieties are completely natural and can be overcome if you are well prepared for the task at hand. This book will give you all the tools you need to pull off your toast like a pro; use it wisely, and it will give your words wings.
Flipping through the many toasts and quotes gathered in these pages, you may feel the urge to simply pick one that seems appropriate and then recite it. While running off a quick quote is a great way to raise glasses some of the time, there are certain occasions where you’ll want the words to be more personal, and this book is an excellent resource for those times, too. Think of it as a springboard from which to create a toast that incorporates your experience, wit, and wisdom with meaningful quotes as well. If you take the time to really work out your thoughts and prepare your words, you’ll find an endless stream of ideas and inspiration from the thousand or so quotes herein. Trust me, by the time you’re done, you’ll be a true toastmaster!
Searching the Sayings
(and Your Soul)
This book is divided into sections that correspond with some of the most common toasting occasions. While each quote has been placed under what seems to be its most logical heading, you’ll find that many toasts can be used (or at least adapted) to fit a variety of situations.
As I mentioned earlier, some occasions may call for simply looking up a quote, copying it down, and reading it with your glass aloft. But other times creating a meaningful toast calls for a bit more work, and it’s well worth it.
When you first begin to build your toast, go straight to the most obvious section for your occasion (so if you’re preparing to laud a recent grad, go to the Graduation section) and pick out a couple of your favorite quotes. Once you’re in the section, you’ll notice that there’s a brief introduction followed by a list of cross-references—I urge you to check out other sections until you find something that suits your needs. Finally, refer to the table of contents for any additional sections where an apropos quote might lurk.
Using the graduation speech as an example, after selecting some Graduation quotes you might turn to the Coming of Age section if you’d like to talk about how the graduate is getting older. Or you could search the New Beginnings section if you want to discuss the new path your grad is setting out on. By scouring these different topics, you’ll be sure to find words that help express all you want to say, and that don’t limit you to talking about the act of graduation itself.
Pulling It All Together
The most moving toasts are often personal accounts punctuated by well-chosen quotes. But don’t become so bogged down in finding the perfect quote that you forget the most important part—personal experience. The key is striking a balance between anecdote and quote. Here are some general guidelines:
First: Sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm some anecdotes about the subject of the toast. When you’re done, sift through the stories and pick out a few that are either really funny or really telling, or hopefully both. But be careful—not all stories are appropriate for all occasions. The tale about your sloppy-drunk friend flashing old ladies might be great at a bachelor party but less than laughable in a toast to his new promotion. As always, use your best judgment.
Second: Think about what the stories you’ve chosen illustrate. Do they show the honoree’s sensitive side? Do they talk about his or her unflagging loyalty or adventurous spirit? Try to find a theme that runs through each anecdote, and use it to guide your choice of quotes. The words you choose should complement the stories you’re about to share, so that the whole toast is cohesive and has a logical flow.
Third: Pull it all together. You’ll want to begin by introducing yourself and filling in a little background about how you know the person you’re toasting. Then you might fold in a quote to set up your story; or you could regale your audience with an anecdote and sum it up with a quote. However you feel most comfortable organizing your toast is fine—just keep it short (under five minutes) and sweet, and it’ll be swell!
Here’s to You
(and that doesn’t mean you)!
One of the challenges of toast writing is to inject personal anecdotes and experiences into the speech without injecting yourself. Keep in mind that although you’re giving the toast, the toast is not about you! When you’ve completed your masterpiece, be sure to read it over. If you notice the words I and me every other sentence, you may need to do some serious slashing. You want the toast to be about the wonderful person you’re honoring, about all the fantastic things he or she has done and plans to do. Even if you were present at (or responsible for!) lots of those fantastic things, bite your lip and, within reason, keep yourself out of it.
The Perfect Delivery
Toasting Dos and Don’ts
Tailoring Your Toast
This may sound obvious, but it’s important to be mindful of your honoree and your audience when giving a toast. A good example of this is in the case of the best man at a wedding. It’s possible that he’ll have to deliver three or more different toasts to very different groups during the course of his career—for instance, at the bachelor party, rehearsal dinner, and wedding reception. While the bachelor-party toast should be irreverent (it’s just the best man and the boys), the rehearsal-dinner toast should be more sentimental and intimate (since the audience is the couple’s closest friends and relatives). And the wedding toast should be nearest in tone to the rehearsal-dinner toast but should assume less familiarity on the part of the audience, which will likely include some peripheral characters who won’t know the honorees as well.
Tailoring a toast doesn’t end with tweaking it to fit the audience. It can also mean changing the language of the quotes to suit the occasion. This may be necessary if you are combining ideas from different quotes, or if you choose a quote that expresses your feelings but sounds a little out of place. Imagine our best man again. He’s found the perfect quote to quip at his best bud’s Vegas bachelor party, but he might not feel comfortable delivering it in its original Old English. Instead he might prefer to translate the quote into his own vernacular, since he’ll likely be dressed as Elvis and speaking to a crowd knee deep in tequila shooters.
Last but not least, make sure that when you do use a quote, you cite its author in some way. It’s not quite fair to claim responsibility for someone else’s beautiful turn of phrase, and if that doesn’t deter you, there’s always the risk of exposure. Think of our poor best man—he delivers a lovely line by the Bard only to be exposed by the exotic dancer who “daylights” as a Shakespearean scholar. Hey, you never know!
The Two Rs—Write It Down, but Don’t Read It
Look, if you’re going to read your toast from a piece of paper, you might as well just print out enough copies for everyone and let them read it on their own time. It’s not a bedtime story, it’s a toast. You need to prepare well enough that you don’t have to read it. While it’s a very good idea to write out your toast* beforehand, you don’t want to read it for the first time at the event or you’ll wind up reciting it like a sixth-grade book report. To avoid this dangerous pitfall, it’s a good idea to read your toast aloud a bunch of times before you “perform” it—you’ll become familiar with the content and cadence of the writing, and you’ll more or less start to commit it to memory.
This is not to say, however, that you should memorize the whole toast outright. Speaking from memory can get very tricky if you forget a key word or skip over an important sentiment, and you don’t want to end up calling “line!” to the unlucky soul who’s holding your cue card. It’s perfectly acceptable to use a few mnemonic aids—after all, it’s a toast, not a test! If you’d like to have the words in front of you, you might consider jotting down an outline and the most significant elements on an index card. These talking points, rather than the full speech, will help jostle your memory but will prevent you from reciting the toast like a liturgy. Plus, an index card transfers discreetly from purse or suit pocket to the palm of your hand. Or if you’d prefer to have some portion mastered, you could memorize the quotes and keep notes of your own words, or vice versa. Everybody is different when it comes to preparation and memorization, so use whatever method seems best for you.
Last but Not Least, Keep It Short and Sweet
Think of it this way: No one comes to an event just to hear a toast, so you don’t want to make it seem like the toast is the main event. Your job is to add a little poignancy to the occasion. You are giving people a chance to stop and think about the importance of whatever occasion you are toasting to. The best toasts are five minutes or less, so keep your tongue from wagging too much and you should do very well.
So now that you’ve got the basics down, get toasting … Good luck and bottoms up!
*Tip: Save whatever you write down—a copy of the full toast can make a very meaningful gift for the honoree.
A to Z
Congratulations! Next time one of your friends wins the Nobel Prize, or the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box, you’ll have words commensurate with such a grand achievement (sometimes just getting through the day is achievement enough for a toast, don’t you think?). No matter the cause for celebration, when you get to ching-chinging it’s nice have something to say besides, “Congrats, dude” (although that’s pretty good, too).
See also: Coming of Age, Graduation, and Promotions.
Let each become all that he was created capable of becoming.
The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is not by spectacular achievements that man can be transformed, but by will.
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
God gives nothing to those who keep their arms crossed.
(West African proverb)
People today distinguish between knowledge and action and pursue them separately, believing that one must know before he can act. … They say [they will wait] till they truly know before putting their knowledge into practice. Consequently, to the end of their lives, they will never act and also will never know.
You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.
—W. Somerset Maugham
To achieve great things we must live as though we were never going to die.
—Luc de Clapiers, marquis de Vauvenargues
Deliberation is the work of many men. Action, of one alone.
—Charles de Gaulle
What we learn to do we learn by doing.
The merit of action lies in finishing it to the end.
Bachelors & Bachelorettes
A much-maligned yet more often envied state of being, bachelorhood straddles the fence between blessing and curse. Sure, you can drink milk straight from the carton at 3 A.M., but there’s no one there to wipe your milk mustache. Whether you’re bemoaning folks’ loss of freedom or welcoming them back to it, the following toasts should give you a hand.
See also: Drinking, Friendship, Husbands & Wives, and Weddings & Anniversaries.
Here’s to marriage—the last decision you’ll be allowed to make.
When I said I should die a bachelor,
I did not think I should live till I were married.
The best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless.
Misses! The tale that I relate
This lesson seems to carry
Choose not alone a proper mate,
But proper time to marry.
A man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing.
Marriage is either kill or cure.
May the single be married—and the married happy.
Marriage is a lottery in which men stake their liberty, and women their happiness.
—Madame de Rieux
I should like to know the proper function of women, if it is not to make reasons for husbands to stay at home, and still stronger reasons for bachelors to go out.
A good dog, a good book, a good wife, perhaps.
But in all events, may your life be long and your pipe sweet.
Here’s to living single and drinking double.
An unwilling woman given to a man in marriage is not his wife but his enemy.
A young man married is a man that’s marr’d.
He that hath a wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.
Nothing is more distasteful than that entire complacency and satisfaction which beam in the countenances of a new-married couple.
Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.
Nobody knows how to manage a wife but a bachelor.
—George Coleman the Elder
I would advise no man to marry who is not likely to propagate understanding.
Love is the story of a woman’s life, but only an episode in the life of a man.
—Germaine Necker, baronne de Staël-Holstein
Bachelor—A selfish, callous, undeserving man who has cheated some poor woman out of a divorce.
Bachelor—A man who never makes the same mistake once.
Never trust a husband too far, nor a bachelor too near.
Here’s to being single,
and seeing triple!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Bachelor’s fare, bread and cheese, and kisses.
Champagne Sorbet Punch
Champagne or sparkling wine (2 bottles)
White dessert wine (1 bottle)
Lemon sorbet* (1 quart)
Combine champagne and wine in a punch bowl and stir gently. Just before serving, add a block of ice and scoops of the sorbet.
*Other fruit-flavored sorbets can be substituted.
Toastmaster, beware! A birthday is a love ’em or hate ’em occasion, one that can be very touchy for some people. When you are honoring the birthday boy or girl, make sure that his or her glass is raised for the toast—not as a weapon. Remind your toastee that along with hairy ears, impaired vision, and loss of memory, with age comes wisdom. And if nothing else, you can drink to that!
See also: Coming of Age.
I am thankful to old age, which has increased my avidity for conversation, while it has removed that for eating and drinking.
Life well spent is long.
—Leonardo da Vinci
Here’s a toast to the future;
A sigh for the past;
We can love and remember,
And hope to the last,
And for all the base lies,
That the Almanacs hold
While there’s love in the heart,
We can never grow old.
As soon as people are old enough to know better, they don’t know anything at all.
Be wise with speed,
A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
Verily, to honor an old man is showing respect to God.
Wherever your life ends, it is all there. The advantage of living is not to be measured by length, but by use; some men have lived long, and lived little; attend to it while you are in it. It lies in your will, not in the number of years, for you to have lived enough.
—Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
A lad of a “certain age,” which means Certainly aged.
—George Gordon, Lord Byron
To the old guard, the older we grow,
The more we take and the less we know.
At least the young men tell us so,
But the day will come, when they shall know
Exactly how far a glass can go,
To win the battle, ’gainst age, the foe.
Here’s youth … in a glass of wine.
—James Monroe McLean
Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternatives.
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time still a flying;
And the same flower that blooms today,
Tomorrow may be dying.
Live as long as you please, you will strike nothing off the time you will have to spend dead.
—Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
Nobody loves life like an old man.
Time and tide wait for no man—but time always stands still for a woman of thirty.
What is but Age? Something to count?
Some people fight it as if climbing the mount.
I choose to live with dignity and grace
And offer a drink to all in this place!
Old men are fond of giving good advice, to console themselves for being no longer in a position to give bad examples.
—François, duc de la Rochefoucauld
Time carries all things, even wits, away.
Few people know how to be old.
—François, duc de la Rochefoucauld
The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.
The old forget, the young don’t know.
No wise man ever wished to be younger.
Middle Age—When a man says he is going to begin saving next month.
May you die in bed at ninety-five years, Shot by a jealous wife!
As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter she is perfectly satisfied.
May you live as long as you like and have all you like as long as you live.
Whenever a man’s friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old.
May the Lord love us but not call us too soon.
Let’s drink—while we still can.
Enjoy the Spring of Love and Youth,
To some good Angel leave the rest,
The time will teach you soon enough
There are no birds in the last year’s nest.
Here’s to your health! You make Age curious, Time furious, and all of us envious!
Here’s to you! No matter how old you are, you don’t look it!
May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live.
A graceful and honorable old age is the childhood of immortality.
May you enter heaven late.
Age is something to brag about in the wine cellar and forget about on your birthday.
Ad multo annos! (To many years!)
Many happy returns of the day of your birth:
Many blessings to brighten your pathway on earth;
Many friendships to cheer and provoke you to mirth;
Many feastings and frolics to add to your girth.
We grow neither better nor worse as we get old, but more like ourselves.
The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.
Birthdays are good for you. The more of them you have, the longer you live.
If only youth knew, if only old age could.
Here’s to your good health, and your family’s good health, and may you all live long and prosper.
I wish thee health,
I wish thee wealth,
I wish thee gold in store,
I wish thee heaven upon earth
What could I wish thee more?
At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.
A toast to your coffin.
May it be of hundred-year-old oak.
And may we plant the tree together tomorrow.
To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent, that is to triumph over old age.
—Thomas B. Aldrich
Age does not make us childish, as some say; it finds us true children.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Happy birthday to you,
and many to be,
with friends who are true
as you are to me.
Let us take care that age does not make more wrinkles on our spirit than on our face.
—Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
Fill to him, to the brim,
Round the table let it roll.
The divine says the wine
Cheers the body and the soul.
Age doesn’t protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.
Youth knows no age.
The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened. It’s only the middle-aged who are really conscious of their limitations.
- On Sale
- Mar 1, 2004
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Black Dog & Leventhal