New Year's Eve is upon us, and if you're attending any kind of social gathering to ring in the New Year, chances are someone is going to offer a toast. But just what are the do's and don'ts of toasting?
Etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, founder of Access to Culture, offers these toasting tips:
First Toast: In light of their planning, and financing, the host or hostess of the dinner or social party offers the first toast. At an informal dinner party or table of friends, however, a guest can propose the first toast to thank the host for organizing the event or gathering.
To Clink or Not? Today it's not necessary. You may choose to clink your glass, or not. Avoid making others uncomfortable by refraining from comments like "I don't clink." Etiquette is about others feeling comfortable in your presence.
Observing Toast Boundaries: In the U.S., New Year's Eve toasts are extremely brief, sometimes 10 to 15 seconds; occurring with much fanfare at midnight. If you don't want to be kissed by strangers, stay close to your date, extend your hand for a handshake, provide your cheek for an "air-kiss" or excuse yourself before midnight.
Champagne Bottle Opening: There is a proper way to open a bottle of champagne to avoid the spray, injuring someone with the cork, or spilling a precious drop. Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle while grasping the champagne cork gently with the one hand, and turn the bottom of the bottle firmly with the other hand. Be sure to twist the bottom of the bottle slowly, until you feel the cork gently release in your hand.
Non-alcoholic toasts: Toasting is about the sentiment of the occasion, not the liquid in the glass. Some guests refrain from consuming alcohol for health and medical reasons. People undergoing medical treatment, in recovery, or taking certain prescription medication cannot take even "just one sip." It is impolite to insist that they do, because they can still acceptably join in the toasting with a sparkling beverage, ginger ale, club soda, seltzer or juice. If you do not drink and are offered an alcoholic beverage, simply say "no thank you."
Consultant and author Sharon Schweitzer is founder of Access to Culture, a cross-cultural and international protocol firm based in Austin, Texas.