How to Give a Great Thanksgiving Toast

Before you start scooping the mashed potatoes, learn how to give a Thanksgiving toast that celebrates the season.

Thanksgiving is undoubtedly the biggest meal of the year. With an occasion like this, it seems odd to just sit down and dive into the mashed potatoes and gravy. That’s why before you start serving the cranberry sauce, take a moment to give a Thanksgiving toast.

A toast makes the meal feel like a celebration and is an opportunity to show gratitude. But giving a toast can be stressful! Where do you start when it comes to penning a speech for your guests? Don’t you worry. We’ll help you write the perfect Thanksgiving toast whether you want something clever, heartfelt or short and sweet.

The Basics of a Great Toast

If you’re taking the time to write a few words to express your gratitude for your loved ones, you’ve already got a great toast. However, there are a few guidelines that will keep you on the right track as you brainstorm your speech.

  • Know your audience: Always remember who you’re talking to. If your family is more of the serious sort, stay away from jokes and express yourself sincerely. If it’s a Friendsgiving celebration with your best pals, a few cheeky words or inside jokes will be much appreciated.
  • Keep it short: Don’t overwork yourself trying to write a comic’s tight five. Thirty seconds is all you need to keep your guests’ attention and express yourself.
  • Practice: We’ve all seen impromptu speeches at weddings and have been left scratching our heads. Practice your speech for a friend or partner before the big day to get any feedback.
  • Give a nod of appreciation: Whatever the occasion, be sure to give a little extra thanks to the hosts and cooks. Their extra work deserves recognition.
  • End on a high note: Toasts should be optimistic and cheerful. End your short speech with a heartfelt thank you and a raised glass.

Types of Toasts for Thanksgiving

With those basics of toasting in mind, there are a few approaches you can take.

Short Toasts for Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving, you know everyone is anxious to start digging in. Get the meal started with a short Thanksgiving toast. Thank your guests for attending and express gratitude for the year to come. Then carve the turkey and start serving.

And remember: There’s nothing wrong with a short toast. Everyone appreciates the toastmaster taking a few moments to start the meal off right.

Thanksgiving Toasts for Family

Thanksgiving is a great time to look at how the family has changed over the year. Be sure to celebrate any new additions—babies, in-laws, neighbors or even pets. You can also make mention of anyone who has passed and express gratitude for all they did to make lives special. Telling your kin that you’re happy to spend time with them is simple, sincere and a great way to kick off a meal.

Traditional Toasts for Thanksgiving

Reflect on your heritage as you give a speech. Does your family have any toasts traditionally given at weddings and other special events? There’s no harm in reciting one of these toasts again. Families with Irish ties may recognize this one: “May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.”

You can always tack on a short “cheers” at the end of a toast whether you say prostsalud, l’chaim, na zdrowiecin cin or kanpai.

Toast with a Quote

If you don’t fancy yourself a writer, rely on others. A powerful quote is enough to start the meal off on a grateful note.

  • “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” —Maya Angelou
  • “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.” —Virginia Woolf
  • “Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.” —Rumi
  • “The turkey. The sweet potatoes. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. Is there anything else we all can agree so vehemently about? I don’t think so.” —Nora Ephron
  • “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” —John F. Kennedy

What You Need for a Toast

Don’t forget: No toast is complete without a drink in hand. Make sure all your guests have glasses full of champagne, sparkling cider or the Thanksgiving cocktail of their choice.

For the right “clink,” opt for good wine glasses, not plastic cups (the exception, of course, is the kids’ table).

If a toast isn’t for you but you still want to show your appreciation, try these Thanksgiving gifts.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.