Tasteful Toasts for Irish FolksLast year Ireland’s population was 6.4 million and 42 million United States residents claim Irish ancestry (thank you Wikipedia). In the big scheme of things, I suspect I’m about 2% Irish affording me a peck on the cheek and at least one green beer this St. Patrick’s Day.

While there are hundreds of Irish toasts to raise your mug to, my years of patrolling pubs revealed rainbows of tall tales and a pot leprechaun limericks, riddles and jokes. Below are some choice clean green comedy to share that might get you a free pint from Shamus:


Irish Toasts

May the roof above us never fall in,

and may we friends beneath it never fall out.

You’re my best friend and like a four leaf clover:

hard to find and lucky to have.

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,

May good luck pursue you each morning and night.


Leprechaun Limericks

There once was a young man named Sean,

 Whose wish came from a sly leprechaun,

 To be surrounded by dough,

 Was what he wanted, so,

 In six months he was born as a fawn.

There once was on leprechaun

Who lived in a stump on my lawn

He had hoarded much gold

Hidden safely, I’m told

For he feared that someday it’d be gone


Irish Proverbs

A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures.

Your feet will take you where you heart is

What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.

You'll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.


Irish Jokes

Reilly went to trial for armed robbery.

The jury foreman came out and announced, "Not guilty."

 "Oh my!" shouted Reilly. "Does that mean I get to keep the money?"

Two Irishmen were getting ready to go on a camping trip.

First one said, "I'm taking a gallon of whiskey just in case of rattlesnake bites. What are you taking?"


An Englishman walks into a pub and says, “I’ve got some great Irish jokes.”

“Before you start,” said the big bloke in the corner, “You need to know I’m Irish.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll tell them slowly.

An Irishman was flustered not being able to find a parking space in a large mall's parking lot, "Lord," he prayed," I can't stand this. If you open a space up for me, I swear I'll give up drinking me whiskey, and I promise to go to church every Sunday." Suddenly, the clouds parted and the sun shone on an empty parking spot. Without hesitation, the man said, "Never mind, I found one."

“How far is it to the next village?” asked the American tourist.

“It’s about seven miles,” guessed the leprechaun, “But it’s only five if you run!”


You can download and print this two-side sheet of Tomfoolery (pdf 691 kb) to aide your memory.


Your Turn: What’s your favorite Irish toast, leprechaun limerick, riddle or joke?  

Proper Praise for an Extended Tasteful ToastLast month I received a question, “Michael you tell us, ‘Remember the rhyme and you’ll do fine,’ but sometimes I want to say a little bit more at a celebration. How do I figure out what to say?” Always thrilled to receive requests – a.k.a. fan mail (in my mind) – I’m equally happy to share the five key questions for proper praise for an extended tasteful toast. 

The most successful toasts are inspirational and praise the honoree’s meaningful contributions to their family or community. Discovering the right material to use is easy when you know what questions to ask.

Prepping for Proper Praise

   1.   What qualities make this person great or worthy of praise?
   2.   What is his/her source of power or inspiration?
   3.   What debt do we owe for his/her efforts?
   4.   What lessons can we learn from his/her actions?
   5.   What is his/her place in history? 


It’s best to ask family, friends and co-workers these questions about the honoree days or weeks before the event to prepare my material. Here are some tips from award-winning journalist and editor of the book, Kauai Stories, Pamela Brown. 

In-Person Interview Techniques*
My initial inquiry, “What in-person interview techniques can you share?” was answered by a query of her own, “If you were being interviewed, would you rather feel like you’re chatting with a reporter or being peppered with questions?” Point taken, so have a list of what you want to talk about but flow the conversation as if you are talking with the person normally. Next?

Set the Scene: Meet in a quiet place where your interviewee is comfortable, like in their home. Ask that there be no distractions so you can both concentrate on your conversation.

Record Your Interview: Your conversation will flow more smoothly and you’ll be more present and will enjoy it more – and when you’re enjoying it more, the person you are interviewing will tell you more about memorable times.

Be Interested: The more you want to learn, the more your person will want to share. In my experience, as soon as I say, “I’ve got all the information I need,” and reach to turn off your recording device, your person will say something wonderful that you are going to want to capture, so keep recording until you are out the door.

Once you’ve transcribed your interview, you’ll want to extract one to three examples that best illustrate the rich character of the person you want to praise.

Kauai Stories

Keep to the winning Tasteful Toasts formula (be brief, be bold, be done) and you’ll have beautiful outcome.

*Kauai Stories is filled with rich personal stories culled using the above interview techniques. Special thank you to Pamela Brown for her expert contributions.


Your turn: What actions have you recently praised? 

Tasteful Toasts Air Force OneYou never know when you’ll be whisked away on Air Force One to have dinner with the President of the United States, important diplomats and visiting dignitaries, so it’s important to always listen to your mother, wear clean underwear and be prepared with a tasteful toast.

When addressing government officials and their VIP entourage you might feel a little pressure regardless if the setting is casual or formal. You don’t want to say the wrong thing and start an international incident and, well, because you’d love to be invited back to the White House.

Fortunately you can rely upon previous presidential prose to ease your anxiety. Use their finely crafted words to present touching sentiments that will well received. Here are a few brief excerpts by past and present leaders that can be adapted for your inaugural reception:

Let us mark this day with remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled.” 
– Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America

Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself, and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country but to its character.”
– George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States of America

Let us shape the hope of this day into the noblest chapter in our history.”
– Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America

Write on our hearts these words: ‘Use power to help people.’”
– George Bush, 41st President of the United States of America

We must do what we know is right, and do it with all our might.”
– Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America

These quotes will resonate with every person because they all imply one thing: you make a difference. I truly believe that you are always in the right place at the right time to make a positive difference. You don’t have to solve the entire problem, but merely move it forward for the next person to lend their expertise and move it forward.

Data source: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/inaugurals.php

Your Turn: What wise words would you share when you visit the White House?  

Tasteful Anniversary Toasts 1

Marriages that last seem to receive less attention than high profile, short term break-ups, but I believe the media has it all wrong. I'm taking a stand and showering attention on the simple and good things in life, after all good things last the longest.

My friend Luby and her husband Bob just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. What can you say about a couple of crazy kids that married on the steps of Avalon Community Church on November 10, 1962, on Catalina Island, Calif., and returned fifty years later to renew their vows on the same church steps?

Here’s a copy of my toast that attendees said, “That was a wonderful” and "Fabulous.":

Tasteful Anniversary Toasts 2

Good Afternoon, my name is Michael Varma and I met Luby more than ten years ago at a Toastmasters meeting.

Luby is our resident celebrity. She a triple threat: she acts, she sings and can tap dance her way out of a question she doesn’t want to answer.

And we’re here to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary to Bob. Fifty years is quite an achievement. Most folks don’t make it that far.

Britney Spear’s first marriage to childhood friend Jason Alexander lasted 55 hours.

Kim Kardashian's second marriage to New Jersey Nets forward Kris Humphries lasted a mere 72 days.

But those are marriages that didn’t make it. How about other celebrities that are still together?

Hollywood sweethearts Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are still together, but it’s only been 24 years.

My wife and I have been married for a little more than 10 years and know I adore my wife more today than when got married. (Honey, did I say that right?)

Luby and Bob, you’re at 50 years. That’s five times more love than I’ve yet known. I’m in awe and offer this anniversary toast.


You are blessed from above

With devotion and love

 I have a good notion

 To second His motion

 We bid you good cheers

 Partners in love for many more years

When Luby was asked what was the secret to her marriage, she offered a favorite quote, “Love creates a marriage and after several years, the marriage makes love.”

That’s a really good line. I probably use that in the future.

Your Turn: What great lines can you share?


Tasteful Toasts - June Wedding

Kirsten and Chris Wallace 07/07/2012 with the 
Magical Minister (that's me) at the top of the steps.

Toasting to the three Cs of a successful marriage.

On Saturday, July 7, 2012, I had the honor of marrying Chris and Kirsten Wallace, a shy, young couple who didn’t want the spotlight, didn’t want to have a long ceremony and didn’t to say (or write) their vows. They made it clear to me the only lines they wanted to say were, “I do.” All went well and I’m sharing and adapting a portion of their non-traditional ceremony as a brief and tasteful wedding toast: The three Cs of a successful marriage:Communicate, Compromise and Compassion.

To have a happy, healthy and long successful marriage you only need to remember the three Cs. The first C is Communicate. Telling your partner what you don’t want, is good.Telling your partner what you DO want is better. You must articulate your wants, needs and desires.

 Think about your wedding. You had to make many decisions and offer many opinions. Did you get everything you wanted? No, not everything, but you did get most everything, which leads us to the second C.

The second C is Compromise. Getting your way all the time is not fair to your partner.

When you compromise things can turn out better than what you initially had planned. A good example is Thanksgiving. Will you go to Chris’s family gathering? Will you go to Kirsten’s family gathering? If you work it out right, you’ll get two free dinners!

 Keith and Shawn, Sam and Jill [parents of the bride and groom] there will be some times in the future where Chris and Kirsten will want to spend their holidays alone and that’s fine, too. They will want to make new memories. That leads us to the third C.

 The third C is Compassion. As you join together in marriage, you are bringing together two different families with different thoughts, ideas, opinions and that’s where you share your compassion. The two of you probably agree on many points. That’s why you’re getting married, but some family and friends may have different opinions. And that’s okay, too. And that’s where we come full circle back to communication.

 That circle is a strong bond and it’s easy to remember because it is in the form of a ring that you will wear every day of your life. As you promise to communicate, compromise and share your compassion with each other, we promise the same. Congratulations.

Your turn: What’s your recommendation for a fourth C?

Learn how to ward off ghosts and goblins before taking the stage.

Halloween is a good time to be scared, but a bad time to have the hebejebesbefore you stand up at a party and give a toast. If you feel the tension creeping into your shoulders or your stomach tightening up it's time to relax and regain your composure. I offer three simple tricks that produce sweet treats to soothe the soul for a short soliloquy. 

Trick #1 – Listen to your favorite song or radio program.
Treat #1 – Music truly calms the savage beast whether it’s in your head, heart or tummy. I take advantage of today’s technology and have two categories of tunes on my smart phone that I can listen to at a moment’s notice. First up is my piano bar playlist. This set has more than 50 songs I love to sing. Spooky spirits and negatives nerves are vanquished  and I’m in a fantabulous mood well before the first chorus. Second is a set of NPR’s comedy Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! podcasts. I can laugh and test my news knowledge while figuring out what's real and what’s made up by the cast of comedians.

Trick #2 – Breathe and be Brilliant.
Treat #2 – This simple two-step process of quickly inhaling through your nose for three seconds then exhaling through your mouth for six seconds releases nervous energy. It puts you back in command of your voice with more control, power and energy. I have done this on my way to the microphone when all eyes are on me. It appears that I am merely collecting my thoughts before I begin my toast.

Trick #3 – Wet your whistle and sip a half cup of water.
Treat #3 – When you remain hydrated you can prevent dry mouth syndrome. I always have a bottle of water handy especially when I’m scheduled to speak. And even though my toast will be less than three minutes long, I can sip the rest of the water and clear the cotton cobwebs that might form.

Typically only one of these tricks is necessary to halt the hobgoblins.

Bonus – Three Halloween Toasts:

Black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam,

 May luck be yours this Halloween.

* * *

Halloween is sure to fright

 Goblins scream throughout the night

 Monsters chase you to the house

 The kids are back – save your spouse

* * *

There's a goblin at my window,

 A monster at my door.

 The pumpkin at my table

Keeps smiling more and more.

Your turn: What are your tricks and treats for toasting?

Tasteful Toasts - Dad Toasting

You want to say a few words at the wedding, but you’re stuck on what to say. Fortunately there is a simple recipe to follow to help guide you through the process to write a touching toast in 10 minutes or less.

Start by introducing yourself by name and how you know the bride and or groom. Never assume everyone knows who you are – there will be extended family members, signficiant others and a whole host of friends that will benefit from this relation information. For example, “Good evening, my name is Michael Varma and I’ve been Jeff’s golfing buddy for the last 12 years.”

Describe one to three observations you’ve made while the couple was dating, Yes, this is the sincere touching part. Before and after comparisons frequently are well received (see #1 below). Choose from the top ten prompters and examples listed below – replace he/she with the bride or groom’s name.

1.    Before he/she met you, he/she ___________. Now he/she ___________.       Before Michael met Barbara, he didn’t have a clue about Angel’s baseball, but now he knows Don Sutton was her favorite pitcher, all the current baseball stats, and even has purchased season tickets.

2.     I knew he/she was in love when ____________.I knew Barbara was in love when she baked him an apple pie…from scratch.

3.    When he/she met at __________, I knew __________.When Michael met Barbara at the Magic Castle, and that’s all he talked about for the next three days, I knew he was marrige bound.

4.     Because of you, he/she sees the world __________.Because of Michael, Barbara sees the world as a bountiful playground.

5.     You are such a part of him/her that when you're gone he/she __________.Barbara, you are such a part of Michael that when you’re gone he becomes homesick.

6.     He/She looks forward to laughing and __________ as you __________.Michael looks forward to laughing and Jazzercising as they dance down Main Street USA at Disneyland.

7.     I watched him/her ________, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.I watched Michael and Barbara caretake their parents, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

8.     When you ____________, he/she saw you for the _____________ person you are.Michael, when you took Barbara’s cat to the vet, even though you were allergic to fur and sneezed for three straight days, Barbara saw you for the gentle and caring person you are.

9.     He/She shares ___________, so together you can ___________.Michael shares his popcorn at the movies with Barbara, so he can have an excuse to touch her hands.

10.  Your ___________ has shown him/her how to be___________.Barbara’s generosity has shown Michael how to be more giving.

You can customize the middle a bit more by expounding – just a tad – and provide a few relevant and humorous details.

To conclude, raise your glass and offer a brief blessing (aka Tasteful Toasts). It can be as simple as “Cheers” to “To a long happy and healthy marriage” to my personal favorite:

Your marriage makes a perfect start
For every life is a work of art
Paint a picture filled with bliss
Treasured in your lover's kiss
Wedding vows are truly strong
May yours last forever long

Your turn: What additional prompters can you share?

I recently read a wedding speech book that promised readers how to get laughs, but in my humble opinion, it was geared more for roasting the couple than toasting newlyweds.

Wedding toasts should be positive as this is a new life for the couple. Remarks can still be funny. Read my opinion about Tasteful Wedding One-Liners.

Here are a dozen of my favorite one-liners for lovers – perfect for weddings, anniversaries or other romantic celebrations:

1. Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke. ~ Lynda Barry

2. Love is a game that two can play and both win. ~ Eva Gabor

3. Love means nothing in tennis, but it's everything in life.

4. Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame. ~ Henry David Thoreau

5. You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.

6. We’re here to celebrate the love match, pure and simple:
    Barbara is pure and Michael is…a very nice guy.

7. Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart.

8. Love is not singular except in syllable. ~ Marvin Taylor

9. The first time he saw her swimming in the sea he thought she was worth wading for.

10. Live each day as if it were your last, and each night as if it were your first.

11. Love one another and you will be happy; it's as simple and as difficult as that.

12. If you’re smart, you’ll always have the last word; if you’re wise you won’t use it.


Bonus – brief marriage jokes:

If love is blind and marriage is an institution, then marriage is an institution for the blind. Which leads me to my next question, if love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

Your turn: What’s your favorite one-liner for lovers?

Tasteful Toasts Dinner Toasting Tradition


After having a fabulous day, or even a stressful one, reconnecting with your family can lift spirits and energize one and all – an excellent reason to increase the frequency of a family toast beyond the annual Thanksgiving meal. It’s a lesson we can learn from our past, repeat in the present in order to make a brighter future.


The Greek Philosopher Epictetus (AD 55 – AD 135) offered, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”

If rejoicing is done only once a year, many-a-wonderful triumphs, small and large, would be easily forgotten.



When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around,” said famed country singer Willie Nelson.

Being openly thankful all year long adds value to your life and sharing even the simplest experiences make us all feel a little closer.



Start the tradition of a family toast once a week – your choice of day, and let them know what you’re thankful for. Fill a pitcher with your family’s favorite drink then clink.

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.” - Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC)

Your turn: What is your favorite family toast?

A puzzling word tribute to the one you love.

Tasteful Toasts Anniversary Anagrams

There are hundreds of ways to show your love and as a professional presenter, magician, and enchanted husband I offer these anniversary anagrams to my wife, whom I cherish. Please adapt and share this tribute with the significant person in your life.

an·a·gram (an-uh-gram)

An anagram is a word cipher game where you rearrange the letters of a word or phrase to discover a secret message. And since my wife is a writer, I’ll begin with a literary example: Rearranging “A decimal point” to create “I'm a dot in place.”

Marriage is a journey where you write your own adventures one day at a time, like the pages in a book. Coincidentally “filling a novel” is an anagram for "Falling in love."

From her current mystery novel, one of her characters might say in, "You one valid girl" translates to, "I love you, darling."

And as we pursue our hearts desires, together, I support her with all that I can. Some would say I’m “A dream loan-giver,” which is an anagram for “Love and Marriage.”

We’ve been together for more than a dozen wonderful years and people ask us what is our secret – I call that type of person a “Life admirer” which is our secret anagram for “Married life.”

Some would say, “Hmm! A cavalier,” but that’s just an anagram for “Michael Varma” and I’m “the married man,” which translates to “I'm her darn mate!”

That’s my “Tasteful Toasts” article or “stout fast tales” for the month.

So, when you’re “In Love,” – an anagram for “Live on” – I recommend you continue to do so with passion.

[Many thanks to www.anagramgenius.com for making me look like a genius.]

Your turn: Share your favorite anagram or tasteful tribute to the one you love.


Tasteful Toasts Wedding One Liners

Remember the two golden rules to pack a loving punch.


Adding humor to a wedding or anniversary party is always welcome, but it requires that you follow the two golden rules: tell good cleanjokes and jest in favor of marriage. This can be a tall order because most wedding wisecracks are far from wise. Even the great comedic legend Milton Berle said, “Marriage is a great institution, but who wants to live in an institution?” Below are my top ten picks of tasteful wedding one-liners that can be personalize by replacing bride, groom, husband or wife with the actual people’s names.

1. A good wife will always forgive her husband when she's wrong.

2. A husband is not a yes-man; when his wife says no, he says no.

3. Why did the groom cross the road? Because his wife was on the other side.

4. The most effective way to remember your wife's birthday is to forget it once.

5. The best way to get your husband to do something is to suggest that perhaps he’s too old to do it.

6. Love is blind but marriage is an eye-opener.

7. Marriages are made in heaven, but the details are worked out on earth.

8. Single people are looking for a prize; married people find a reward.

9. To error is to be single, to get married is divine.

10. “Husband and wife” is an anagram for “Fun was had in bed.”

Even these top ten one-liners can pack a punch depending on the size, age and culture of your of your audience. Use your best judgment. If you’re still in doubt then leave it out. Go toward the white wedding light and you’ll always be right.

Bonus – a brief marriage joke:

A man walks up to a gorgeous woman in a large grocery store and says, “Excuse me but, I’ve lost my wife somewhere here in the market, could you talk to me for a few minutes?” “Why?” she asks. “Well, whenever I talk to beautiful woman my wife suddenly appears out of nowhere.”

Your turn - share your favorite tasteful wedding one-liner, today! 


Learn the three components of a tasteful toast.

As a professional magician and frequent attendee of social gatherings, I believe toasting is one of the easiest ways to turn an ordinary party into an extraordinary celebration. I’ve witnessed how a few spoken words can enhance an evening, enchant guests and promote re-telling of stories about the special event, starting with the toast. You, too, can convey your own magical message by learning the three components of a tasteful toast: Be warm. Be witty. Be wise.

Be Warm

In the popular 1970’s television show Fantasy Island, Mr. Roarke, played by Ricardo Montalbán, warmly greeted his guests in order to set them at ease. He’d say, “Good afternoon everyone, I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island.”

We can learn from our history of the mini silver screen. If Mr. Roarke’s simple and genuine introduction worked well for six seasons – 158 episodes – then we can follow the script, too. Address the audience, introduce yourself and provide a sincere welcome.

Be Witty

After the hospitable welcome, people will pause for a few moments to listen for more information. For example, “Dinner is served in the main room. Please take your seats.” In my experience, this is an excellent time to proffer a brief humorous observation.

Below are a few generic funnies:

  • All our guests make us happy; some by coming and others by going.
  • Home: the place where you’re treated the best and grumble the most.
  • Never eat more than you can lift.

Be Wise

Next comes sage advice. What to say will vary depending on the wisdom to impart on the occasion: birthday, wedding, divorce (yes, that’s true!), baby shower, new job, or promotion. Quotes, proverbs, Tasteful Toasts, or writing words from the heart offers a vast array of appropriate remarks.

  • Baby: To the new parents, who are about to enter a “changing” world!
  • Promotion: May the work that you have be the play that you love.
  • Divorce: Always remember that hindsight is the best insight to foresight.

Put it all together and you’ll have three sentences – one warm, one witty and one wise:“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name is Michael Varma and I am your emcee for the evening. Welcome to Captain Sunny’s retirement party. He’s a man who knows everything and now has plenty of time to tell you all about it. Sunny, remember it’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years.”

Practice your lines a couple of times to ensure a steady delivery, then let the festivities begin!


Toasts for your true love
Step away from the chocolates and drive past the corner flower vendor, and that lingerie store, too. Your better half doesn’t really want these material things. Their true secret desire is to be a rock star with you, the number one fan, prepared to shower them with attention. The U.S. Post Office delivered more than one billion Valentine's Day cards last year proving that modern-day Romeos and Juliets want words of affection to make their cups runneth over.

Why Words?
Cupid’s candies might bring both of you short-term satisfaction, but such sugary love can sabotage the long-term New Year’s resolutions to lose those holiday pounds. Best to avoid the guilt and regret. Some folks believe that traditional red roses have a down side, too. The ever-increasing expense for flowers that wither within a week isn’t worth the investment. Frequently the good deed is forgotten well before you down your first St. Patrick’s Day beer.

But an original verse to your true love on Valentine’s Day etches a memory in the heart and on the mind. Most people have learned from our tough economy what really matters is your partner – the person by your side who supports you and your dreams. Now is the time to say so.

For Him
A man wants to brag about how his sweetheart treated him on this special day. He might delight in a homemade pancake breakfast or a romantic dinner for two, but he’ll also enjoy a surprise voicemail message before his morning coffee.

There are a myriad of ways,
That you compliment my days.
I adore each one,
With ever more fun,
Our life of endless holidays.

For Her
A woman longs for a tale to tell her girlfriends, for years to come, of how her man spoke sweet words that stirred her soul. So, write or recite a romantic phrase and share with your cutie-pie how she enchants you.

Did you know my heart skips a beat?
For you are my heavenly treat.
I’ll say today and I’ll repeat,
You make my life true and complete.


Wedding toasts fit for a King and Queen

The original "Oktoberfest" occurred 200 years ago in Munich, Germany, in October 1810, to commemorate the marriage of

Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. In later years an annual festival and parade were organized to honor the Bavarian couple (King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria). Intrigued by this fun fact, I went on a quest to find tasteful German wedding toasts fit for a king and queen of any time period.

The following traditional toast must have come from a father-in-law:
Erst mach' dein' Sach dann trink' und lach!
First take care of business, then drink and laugh!

Leave it to the mother-in-law to sing a different song:
Jeder hört die Musik anders - aber der gemeinsame Tanz ist wunderbar.
Everyone hears the music differently - but the dance together is wonderful.

From the drunken-best man or romantic bride’s maid:
Das Leben ist bezaubernd, man muss es nur durch die richtige Brille sehen.
Life is wonderful, you just need to see it through the right glasses.

Generated from the townspeople (German proverb):
So lange leben, essen wie eine Katze und trinken wie ein Hund
To live long, eat like a cat and drink like a dog.

But my favorite wedding toast, which is appropriate for any stately marriage:
Jeder sieht ein Stückchen Welt, gemeinsam sehen wir die ganze.
Each of us sees a part of the world; together we see all of it.

There are no current-day reports of how many marriages take place at Oktoberfest, but it is the largest folk festival in the world, according to USA Today, with more than 6.5 million visitors and serving up nearly 7 million liters of beer.

In honor newlyweds everywhere and participants of Oktoberfest, I offer Prost und Zum Wohl! (Cheers and Bottoms up!)


Wedding gift thank you notes should not be tossed away like the bridal bouquet and written with a hasty hand. Nor need they be effusive eight-page essays of how you couldn’t live without the silver-plated serving platter. Crafting sincere words of gratitude is easy when you follow the three Rs of thank you note etiquette: reference, reason and regard.

After the salutation, simply reference the present itself. “Thank you for the collector’s edition of Star Trek Pez dispensors.” Naming the specific item avoids the faux pas of using the generic term of “gift” – that’s like saying, “I’m just not that into you.”

If you don’t recall what was given, an inquiring phone call is the best solution. Mention that during transport, a few cards and gifts were separated and you’d like to finish writing your thank you notes. Most wedding witnesses will understand and enjoy the story.

Select a favorite feature or overall positive quality of the present and write a complimentary remark. One sentence will do. Answer one of these two questions: Why do you like it? How will you use it? “I saw the T-shirt jersey sheets on Oprah and know they’ll keep us warm at night.”

While Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, sometimes gifts arrive from former planet Pluto. On the occasion where a present doesn’t appeal to your earthly tastes, focus on the generosity of the gift giver or the craftsmanship of the product. “The serpentine stone sculpture from Zimbabwe is quite elegant.”

It’s most important to acknowledge the person than the gift. The closing sentence is best centered on your relationship with an honest expression of appreciation. “We were honored to have you join us and celebrate our special day – your gift was an unexpected bonus.”

Be truthful. Be positive. Be kind.

So whether you open your presents before or after your honeymoon, it’s good form to write thank you notes in a timely manner. Remember the three Rs (reference, reason, and regard) and you’ll remain under the magical newlywed spell for years to come.


Tasteful Toasts Teamwork

The U.S. Labor Day holiday is a few weeks away and it’s traditionally known as the busiest barbecue day of the year to celebrate with your chums. It’s a time to thank ’em for helping you move you into that new house, painting the fence and feeding the cat. You might have a few friends that you can call up at a moment’s notice for a favor and they’ll be there – just as you’d be for them. Together you make a terrific team and now’s the time to tell them.

That was the case when my wife and I purchased a bargain at the home consignment store – a solid cherry wood dining room table with tasteful inlays and six hand-carved chairs. Loading the pieces into my truck went smoothly, with the assistance of the store’s furniture movers, but when we got home the table proved far too heavy for my wife to help me lift out of the truck and carry into the empty room.

“Regis, I’d like to phone a friend.”

In mere minutes our ladies were chatting, directing and designing while we, the muscle-bound men, dutifully navigated the timber through the front door. Pure teamwork. Our male and female dynamic duos transformed a troublesome task into a fun and victorious adventure. We had to toast our triumph and our friendship.

A couple of weeks later, an informal barbecue spread lay on our new and stately table and we raised our glasses high. The time had come to thank our friends and eat off the fruits of our labor. Here’s the toast I offered for the occasion:

We appreciate your brains and braun,
Twelve hours past the crack of dawn.
Without your muscles to call upon,
We’d be dinning on our front lawn.

The Greek playwright Euripides wrote, “One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.” During our time of need, with no family around, that’s an apt statement.

So, whether you celebrate with steak and beers or wine and cheese, always remember to show gratitude to your comrade in arms. For they are your buddies, your pals – who keep you from harm.


Tasteful Toasts Dinner Time

Speaking off the cuff is acceptable for a dinner-time toast, but you might fail to find the right words to say as hungry eyes focus on you. You’ll stand tongue-tied with your “ums” and “ahs” while your chums begin to chat with one another giving you time to gather your thoughts. By the time you’re ready, the moment’s gone. Knowing when and what to say is key to your success, so follow the three Ds: Draft, Decide, and Deliver and all will be delicious.

Today’s listeners expect clarity, especially from a host. You must communicate openly with your audience or you’ll lose their attention. A simple action plan needs to take place before you raise your glass. So, like a good little boy or girl scout, be prepared.

Take the time to draft a tasteful toast. Write words that express the joy you feel when you’re with your dinner guests. Let them know how much you appreciate their friendship. It’s easier to sketch out a dash of humor now, in the solitude of your own home, than in the bustling background of a restaurant.

Now a days there are no hard rules when to give a toast but there are two natural delays in the dining action you can take advantage of: before dinner or before dessert. After the waiter takes your order, there will be a few seconds of silence as he makes a beeline to the chef in the kitchen. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to determine which opportunity is a better fit to addresses your companions.

Giving a toast before the main meal, at an informal gathering, will set the tone for the evening and conversations will originate from your positive proclamation. Often this type of toast suggests, “The future is ours” and “Let’s get this party started.”

Saying a few words prior to the post-dinner delicacies (that’s fancy talk for “before dessert”) is an ideal way to recap conversations and toast your friends. Typically, this type of toast indicates the evening’s festivities are coming to a close.

Instead of tapping a spoon against a glass to capture everyone’s attention, simply stand up at the table. Conversations will cease and all eyes will focus on you. The stage is set and it’s time to deliver your complimentary message.

It’s best to memorize your mini-speech and look at the folks around the table. But if you have to use notes, rest assured your friends will understand. Speak loud enough so your guests can hear you over any music, conversation or other distractions. When done, raise and clink your glass and take a sip before you sit down.

A special occasion deserves clear communication. A little preparation will help you deliver your heartfelt message. Remember the three Ds (Draft, Decide, and Deliver) and your dinner-time toast will disarm, denote, and delight.

I recently had an opportunity to share my sincere thoughts with a group of professional writers dining at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, and offered this toast:

For my literary friends I decided to write,
a brand new toast to deliver tonight.

I appreciate your humor, I appreciate your wit.
I appreciate your candor, so happy, I should sit.

But I stand humbled and proud,
To be associated with such an infamous crowd.

We are all varied – an eclectic blend,
I’m fortunate to call each one of you friend.

Lake Forest Writers Group at the Magic Castle

Top Row: Tim, David, Diana, Michael, Barbara, and Nicole
Bottom Row: Maki, Cory, Jillian, Beth, Brian and Brian.


Remember that merry day of matrimony? It seemed like only last year the happy couple went willingly down the aisle toward wedded bliss. Some may have been “coaxed,” but the fact remains it’s their anniversary – time to celebrate another successful 52 weeks of togetherness. In addition to giving her a Nordstrom shopping spree and him a flat screen TV, an appropriate verbal gift is to remind them why they said “I do.”

Toasting Topic #1: Equality
Reminisce how the bride and groom, each strong and stable on their own, now function in the divine interdependency of marriage – a worthy status according to Oprah and Psychology Today. Cite examples, then and now, of how this dynamic duo balance work and play and still has time to save the planet.

Their equally-matched talents are what make them the perfect pair. Take the initiative and share your memories of how this man and wife improve the quality of your life, making it a priceless gift indeed.

Suggested Toast #1
With one look into your eyes
You cannot disguise
Your zest for life
As man and wife

Toasting Topic #2: Harmony
Some couples complement each other extremely well, like the bass and treble clefs on piano sheet music. Together these love birds make a marvelous marriage melody. Their passion can only be labeled a la the classic movie The Princess Bride as “twue love.” 

Obvious mutual affection and respect between this twosome are easily noted and need not be labored with a long-winded anecdote. Best to skip directly to the toast, followed by dessert.

Suggested Toast #2
You are blessed from above
With devotion and love
I have a good notion
To second His motion
We bid you good cheers
Partners in love for many more years

From the first wedding anniversary to the twenty-fifth and beyond, share your observations with your family, friends and guests with a tasteful toast. Rejoice in their successful union and take pride in reminding folks attending the celebration why a happy man and wife make a happy span of life.


Tasteful Toasts - Birthday Bandits

Learn how to prevent partygoers from stealing the spotlight.

Celebrating a friend’s birthday is a good thing, but taking the attention away from the honoree can be criminal. Sometimes naturally chatty folks and professional speakers “accidentally” steal the stage when their dutiful place is in the audience clapping and cheering their comrade for surviving another 365 days. Whether you’re the host of the party, best friend or guest, you can politely thwart these thieves by giving them a temporary spotlight then refocusing the beam of light upon your birthday buddy.

Let Them Eat Cake
After a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” at a coworker’s 50th party, a fellow associate, a Martha Stewart wanna-be, brought the festivities to a screeching halt exclaiming how she made the cake from scratch. “And the frosting, too,” she exclaimed and then she droned on and about how the eggs were organic and the milk came from local cows and her ump-teen years of cooking experience made her the best chef in the company.

While some of this information was interesting (and presented well), why did she tell us? What was her point? Beyond showcasing her talents, it was her way of expressing how much she cares for her long-time friend and how she took the extra time to bake him a cake. The easiest course of action, so you can eat that awesome organic cake, would be to publicly thank her for the labor of love then turn the limelight on the guest of honor: “Gladys, your time was well spent cause we know Bob, our resident birthday boy, loves cake. We appreciate your efforts and look forward to the tasty treat.”

Raise Your Glass
After wishes have been made and the flames extinguished, silence ensues while the cake is cut and served. This is a perfect opportunity to offer a tasteful toast. But frequently a gabby groupie will pounce upon the stillness and fill the airwaves with long-winded “best bud” adventure stories. When the tall tale becomes embarrassing, as they often do, you need a lighthearted segue. Seize the moment by clinking a glass to gather the guests’ attention and share your brief comments to keep the party on track. A simple option is to offer a toast, for example:

Tenderly we joke and tease
Candles blown out with a wheeze
Sharing in your birthday feast
We wish you 50 more - at least!

Almost any carefree or humorous transition can bridge the gap until forks are poised over slices of cake to feed fellow partygoers.

Proper Present Protocol
The most common scene stealer is the present pessimist. This is the person who constantly comments on every gift as it’s unwrapped: “I got one of those and it didn’t work,” “Uncle Maury had one and it broke the first time he use it,” “That’s adorable but I doubt it would fit you.” Such comments might be truthful or even funny at the time, but these words wound offending both gifter and giftee. Ask this most vocal visitor to be the list maker and write down the name of the gift and giver so the recipient can send thank you notes after the party – it’s a good use of their energy.

Do these tips deputize you as the party police? Do you have to maintain a constant vigil for birthday bandits at every celebration? No and no. The ultimate goal is to have a good time and remember it’s their special day, not yours. Make the guest of honor feel, well, honored and bask yourself in the afterglow.


Pa Kettle sits at the crowded family table, removes his hat, looks up to Heaven and says, “Much obliged, Lord.” A classic scene from the 1957 film, The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm. In my younger years, I was always fond of “For this plate of food, we thank the Holy Dude.” Now with more than a dash of salt in my hair and a family of my own, Thanksgiving toasts have more significance because I know the difference between turkeys gone wild and gone for Wild Turkey. Fortunately, we can find wisdom and brevity in our history to remind us how to properly pay our respects.

After reaffirming Thanksgiving Day in 1863, President Lincoln was reported to have quoted one of his favorite authors, Robert Burns, and offered the following toast: “Dare to be honest and fear no labor.” Sobering words said in the midst of the Civil War and on the heels of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Freedom From Want
A month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt rallied the nation in a 1941 Congressional speech and set Norman Rockwell to illustrate the four basic freedoms: “…every person is entitled to the freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and the freedom from fear.” Rockwell’s painting, The Freedom from Want, also known as Thanksgiving Dinner, shows the connection to family and returning to old values.

Goals were set forth by President Kennedy during a Veterans’ Day ceremony in 1963: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

This annual meal-time moment is a key opportunity to share from the heart and show appreciation from kin to God. So before offering your Thanksgiving toast this year and every year thereafter, take a few minutes and reflect. What and who do you appreciate? Tell them and help put the thanks back into Thanksgiving.

From my book Tasteful Toasts I offer a universal blessing which can be used on Thanksgiving Day or any meal time:

I've been asked by our gracious host
To raise my glass and offer a toast
Traveling from North, South, West or East
We partake in this bountiful feast
Whether surrounded by family or friend
We thank the Lord and say Amen


“You remember the TV show Friends?–” I asked my dinner companions, “–the episode where Joey gets ordained through the Internet to be a minister to marry Monica and Chandler?”

“Yeah,” they said in stereo.

“Well, I’m gunna be Joey!”

Their jaws dropped and heads cocked sideways like dogs looking at their master trying to understand the gibberish coming out of his mouth.

My wife and I had experienced similar reactions as we stared at each other, while a disembodied voice came through our home office speaker phone and popped the question: “Michael, would you officiate at our wedding?”

That’s right, this crazy Californian scandalized his Southern-in-laws last month, losing any chance of being mentioned in their wills, by marrying one of the kin to his Stanford sweetheart in a beautiful hilltop wedding ceremony. I guess my ordination through the Internet doesn’t carry the same weight of a traditional Baptist preacher.

I side-stepped years of seminary school with a click, sign-on, and “You’ve got ministry credentials.” In most states wedding can be performed by "any currently ordained clergyman or religious authority of any religious denomination or society," ergo, it’s legal.

I was flattered to be asked and honored to unite Brian and Tiffany in marriage. To stand before an audience and perform a different kind of service, beyond my normal skills as a magician or public speaker, is high praise and even a higher compliment. Every marriage is special – this one has a little extra magic.

So, Ladies and gentlemen, for my next trick, I’d like to present to you, for the first time via the internet, Mr. and Mrs. Brian and Tiffany Neal.

[Excerpt from the Magical Minister’s ceremony]

Brian and Tiffany, may your marriage bring every excitement a new marriage should bring, and provide opportunities for patience, tolerance, and understanding. Let your strengths and weaknesses complement each other creating a bond as strong as the earth, as brilliant as the heavens. You will confirm love is more than verses on Valentine's Day and romance in the movies. Love is a fortune that can never be spent, a seed that can flourish – in even the most unlikely of places, and holds a magical radiance that never fades. Love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love is patient and kind. Love never ends.

Both couples, Monica & Chandler and Tiffany & Brian, are happily married.


Tasteful Toasts - Microphone
“No toast except his own should last longer than 60 seconds.”
– Mark Twain

Last June I witnessed the worst, most horrific and tragic toast in my life. The best man, who by all accounts was sober, grabbed the microphone and proceeded to embarrass everyone at the reception. His voice boomed throughout the ballroom as he began, “There once was a bride from France,” and after concluding the off-color limerick he forged on, “There once was a groom from Nantucket.” The guests were not amused. The newlyweds, their parents and grandparents were mortified. This soon to be ex-friend must have thought his humor would be enjoyed by all, but he was sorely mistaken. His major faux pas reinforces my need to blog on toasting etiquette. 

The purpose of a toast is to shine a gentle spotlight around and pay tribute to the honored guest or event. Toasts typically proffer well wishes, good fortune, long life, health, happiness, sage advice or other positive thoughts. Composing a toast that is eloquent, poignant, whimsical and witty can be a challenge and worth every effort.

If presented well, every father of the bride will raise his glass with glee and every mother to great grandmother will declare a “tissue moment.” For example, the following toast, which I wrote for my brother’s wedding, is simple yet heart felt:

Your marriage makes a perfect start
For every life is a work of art
Paint a picture filled with bliss
Treasured in your lover's kiss
Wedding vows are truly strong
May yours last forever long

I skipped over several steps like your introduction, explaining how you’re related to the guest of honor, and jumped to the actual toast (more entries for later). In this posting I will share the three B’s for delivering a successful toast: be brief, be bold, be done.

In most cases, less is more. Keeping your remarks short gives your toast a greater impact and gets you on and off the stage. Well crafted words and a succinct delivery will be appreciated by your audience and more likely remembered for years to come.

Stand proud and speak loud. Ensure everyone in the room, including folks sitting in the back row, can hear your tasteful toast. Belting out to the rafters may not be needed. A quick run-through in the room before the crowd assembles will calm frayed nerves and help you gauge how far to project your voice.

When finished sit down. Avoid the urge to take a bow or return for an encore. Smile, nod, and accept any applause or acknowledgements then refocus the spotlight on the guest of honor.

As a distinguished Toastmaster and professional magician of more than twenty-five years, I’ve performed and observed thousands of speeches ranging from exceptional, to decent, to bury-me-now. Overall, I recommend avoiding dirty jokes and risqué stories. Veer towards the white wedding light with words that praise and inspire.

My goal is to post useful and practical information covering topics from tasteful toasting etiquette to proper party planning. Subscribe now to my blog so you too can benefit from my years of experience.

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