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.

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