Why It's An Etiquette Faux Pas To Drink In Your Own Toast

If you are celebrating a birthday, a promotion, or a personal achievement, it's likely that a toast will be involved. It's a nice gesture for a friend, family member, or coworker to say a few words in your honor, tell the group to raise their glasses, and say "cheers!" Your instinct might be to take a sip right along with them, but doing so is actually an etiquette faux pas.

Although it may not be the most embarrassing mistake, if you're a stickler for good dining etiquette, you should avoid drinking in your own honor. It's a matter of humility. Raising your glass and drinking during your own toast is somewhat akin to patting yourself on the back. Instead, acknowledge the kind words of the person giving the toast with a smile or nod. Wait a moment, and then you can resume drinking, or take the opportunity to offer a toast of your own in response.

More toasting etiquette to consider

The most appropriate time to propose a toast is either when beverages are first served, or just before dessert. Usually, the host proposes the first toast, but sometimes a guest will give thanks to the organizer of the event. It's entirely appropriate to stand — unless it would be awkward, like in a small restaurant — and raise your glass to get everyone's attention. However, hitting a knife against your glass is likely taking things too far. As for the words themselves, keep them short, sweet, and sincere. Avoid being overly verbose, and definitely do not say anything that could embarrass the person you're paying tribute to.

To respond to a toast — as long as you're not the honoree — simply raising your glass is sufficient. Back in medieval times, glass-clinking was a form of poison control, not a gesture of goodwill. So, if you trust your drinking companions, there's no need to actually do it anymore; you run the risk of accidentally breaking the glasses.

Instead, gesture in the direction of those around you. For large groups, there's no need to individually acknowledge every single person.

Toasting etiquette varies around the world

While these are good general rules to keep in mind, none of them are absolute. In China, for example, if a toast is proposed to you, you should indeed raise your glass and clink it against the glass of the person who proposed the toast. However, in Hungary, you should never clink beer glasses.

In Korea and Japan, it is considered impolite to serve yourself, even if there is a bottle on the table. Instead, pour for one of the people you are sharing a drink with, and they will then fill your glass.

Maintaining eye contact during a toast is important in many countries, including France, Germany, Denmark, and Spain. It is a matter of connection, respect, tradition, and avoiding bad luck. In some cultures, breaking eye contact during a toast is said to result in seven years of, well ... unfortunate intimate encounters.