You have put together a huge party for someone you love or care about deeply. A best friend, a spouse, a parent. It’s a milestone occasion—40th birthday, 50th birthday, 25th wedding anniversary. The event locale is booked, the food ordered, you went all out and booked a band or DJ. At the event, the crowd goes quiet and someone asks, “Do you want to say a few words?”
To help prepare you for the inevitable question, use the following 7 writing prompts to deliver a memorable toast on someone’s birthday or anniversary. The goal is to keep the toast to about 3-5 minutes, maybe a bit more if you’re the only one speaking. The goal is to honor the person and celebrate their life.
- What do you love most about this person? What are you most proud of them for accomplishing? What funny or heartwarming stories can you tell to illustrate those qualities?
- When have they been there for you? How so?
- What lessons from a life well lived can we learn from them?
- What mark have they left on the world? How can we follow in their footsteps?
- Have they triumphed over any obstacles in their life? How so? How are they better for it?
- If you had one moment to say everything you wanted to say, what would you say?
- How has your life (and that of others) been made better by the person you’re honoring at this event?
How to use the prompts:
Use the prompts to get a head start on what you want to write. Each one doesn’t need to be fully answered in your toast and it’s not a middle school essay. Instead, use each one as a jumping-off point and follow the threads that give you the best (and most material). It’s no use dwelling on parts that keep you stuck.
A few more tips:
- Keep the stories upbeat, short, and just go with the highlights
- Prepare ahead of time and use notes to keep your place rather than reading from a script
- If you don’t want to speak at the event, consider putting your thoughts into a letter and delivering that instead as a gift after the event.
For more advice on similar speeches, get my upcoming book, “Toast: Short Speeches, Big Impact.”
Need help on your next speech?