Before you get ready to make your toast, take a look around the room and make sure all of your guests have a drink in hand. If you notice any without, offer them a quick refill. When you're ready, the time-honored tradition of clinking a knife against your glass is always the perfect way to get everyone's attention, and all of your guests will know what's coming next.
The best time to give a toast depends on what type of party you're having. If you plan to have a full dinner a little earlier in the night, give your toast once all of your guests are seated but before everyone starts eating. If you're hosting a cocktail party, give your toast around 11:30 or so, just in time for your guests to be excited about the ball dropping but before all of the craziness starts.
It's OK to have some note cards with your speech written out on them for backup, but you should always have your toast memorized anyway. It will come across as much more confident and sincere if you're able to make eye contact with your guests while you're speaking. If you get nervous or forget a line or two, you can always take a quick peak at your cards for a reminder.
When giving a toast at any occasion, it's never appropriate to be negative. Keep your toast happy and light, to reflect the mood of your party and your guests. And remember to keep it on the shorter side so everyone can get back to celebrating the new year!
No one wants to wake up on New Year's Day with a nasty hangover. So, if you think you've had too many, switch over to water, sparkling apple cider, or seltzer with a spritz of fresh lime. You don't have to be holding a glass of bubbly to give a great toast!
Using a quote is totally up to you, and you should only do it if you're comfortable memorizing one and it fits your style. If you do choose to include a quote in your toast, I think Oprah Winfrey said it best: "Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."
Consider who will be in attendance at your New Year's Eve celebration when you're writing your toast, and think about what kind of a presentation would be appreciated by your audience. If you're throwing a party with older family members or co-workers, it's probably in your best interest to avoid any off-color jokes. If your celebration is full of friends and peers, keep it a bit more lighthearted and personal.
For any toast in general, it's a good idea to avoid cliché phrases like "let's all raise our glasses." For a New Year's Eve toast, avoid references to Father Time or Baby New Year. Your toast should be full of personal comments from the heart that are directed at the guests in attendance.
A New Year's Eve toast is the perfect time to mention any big accomplishments from the past year for you personally, your family, or your business, as well as any important news or changes you have for the coming year. Just remember to stick to things that are relevant for your guests and what they might be interested to hear about. New Year's is all about making resolutions for the year to come, so incorporate that theme into your toast and get your guests yelling out what they resolve to do! It will make your toast a bit more casual to get your guests involved, but will certainly take some of the spotlight and pressure off you.
If public speaking just isn't your thing and you're unexpectedly asked to make a toast, it's OK to deflect this to someone else. You can say something like, "I'm really not that great at this stuff, but I know Lauren is. We should have her say a few words!"