Someone special to you is celebrating his or her 75th birthday, and you’ve been asked to make a toast at the party. The pressure is on you to make a memorable toast that celebrates the guest of honor’s unique qualities and that everyone at the party will enjoy.
No need to get too stressed, though. Just read on to find out what you need to know to make a classy 75th birthday toast or speech.
Prepare Ahead of Time
The best way to get started is to take a few minutes and think about the guest of honor. What is your relationship – are you making a 75th birthday toast for your Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, other relative or friend?
The type of relationship you have, and the length of time you’ve known the guest of honor will make a difference in the toast that you give. Has this person taught you life lessons? Have they been a best friend in good times or bad?
Now reflect for a couple of minutes about the guest of honor. Write down a few words that come to your mind whenever you think of this person. What are his or her hobbies, interests, passions? What do you immediately think of when you picture this person?
For example, if I were writing a 75th birthday toast for my dad, some of the things I know he loves are fishing, coffee, beer, history, poetry, and the Georgia Bulldogs. I would try to incorporate some of our shared experiences of these into my toast.
I’d advise writing your toast on note cards that you can take with you to the event. You might be a bit nervous when you’re speaking so the cards will make a handy reference!
How Long Should a 75th Birthday Toast Be?
Short and sweet is the best answer! As a general rule, your toast should be well under 5 minutes. Aim for 2-3 minutes if possible (be sure to time yourself when you’re practicing)!
You want to take enough time to celebrate and honor the birthday guy or gal, but remember – it’s not YOUR day. You don’t want to steal the spotlight from the guest of honor.
What to Talk About
Start your toast by thanking the guests for attending. You’ll also want to thank the hosts for organizing the event. Try to add a brief compliment to the hosts about something special at the party (the decorations or cake, for example).
If this is a larger party where not everyone will know your relationship to the guest of honor, you’ll want to add a sentence or two explaining how you know him or her and what your relationship is. You can skip this if everyone at the party already knows this.
Since this is a 75th birthday party, you can talk a bit about how much life has changed in three-quarters of a century. Don’t overdo this, however – you’re not giving a history lecture! Feel free to skip this is your speech is running long.
Highlight some of the guest of honor’s achievements. They’ve probably accomplished quite a bit in 75 years! They’ve probably raised a family, had a career, volunteered, traveled. What about athletic or scholastic achievements from their younger years?
I think personal anecdotes are usually the most enjoyable, and most meaningful to both the guest of honor and the party attendees. Prepare one or two stories that highlight the person’s character and passions. Share what you’ve learned from the guest of honor, or how he or she has helped you in difficult times.
Wrap it up by congratulating the honoree on reaching this milestone birthday. You may wish to add a 75th birthday wish or a funny quote about growing older, such as “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age,” by Lucille Ball. Another fun quote by Dennis Wolfberg: “There’s one advantage to being 102. There’s no peer pressure.”
End by asking everyone to raise a glass and toast to the guest of honor’s 75th birthday.
Who Is Your Audience?
Think about who will be in attendance at the party. If this is a gathering of close friends who all know the honoree well, you can probably rely on a few inside jokes or history that everyone has shared.
If this is a larger gathering of both friends and more casual acquaintences, you can’t assume that everyone knows the guest of honor as well. Inside jokes or references won’t go over as well.
Dos and Don’ts of Making a 75th Birthday Toast
- Do practice ahead of time. If possible, have someone else critique your toast before the big event.
- Do keep it short. You’re there to entertain the guests.
- Don’t embarrass anyone, especially the guest of honor. A 75th birthday celebration should be a joyful and fun event for everyone!If you’re in doubt about anything, leave it out.
- Don’t be shy about expressing your honest emotions about the honoree, but don’t become a blubbering mess. A milestone birthday is a sentimental occasion, and a few sentimental tears are ok, but you don’t want anyone sobbing.
- Don’t have more than one drink before you make your toast. Slurry and sloppy is not the way to go!
- Don’t get raunchy. Keep it clean!
How to Actually Give the Toast at the Party
So the hard work is done, and you’ve written your toast. You’ve practiced it and feel comfortable with what you’re going to say. Here’s how to actually give the toast:
- Discuss ahead of time with the host when would be the best time to give a toast. Just before cutting the cake or eating a meal would be ideal choices.
- Get a clean glass before making the toast. You don't want anyone distracted by lipstick or fingerprint marks!
- Don't hold the glass while you're toasting - it's too easy to slosh if you gesture while speaking. Put the glass on a table within easy reach.
- When the time is appropriate, get everyone's attention. You can either ding a knife on a drinking glass or just loudly ask to say a few words.
- If you have note cards, hold them at a low level rather than directly in front of your face. Don't read word for word from the cards, but feel free to use them as a reference.
- Speak loudly and clearly so that everyone can understand you.
- At the very end, pick up your glass and invite everyone to toast in honor of the 75th birthday.
Congratulations! You've just made an incredible and memorable 75th birthday toast - now go enjoy the rest of the party!