How to Make a Toast

Even though I make my living talking on television, don’t get the wrong idea about me.

I don’t want to make a toast at your wedding.  No offense.  I also don’t want to make a toast at your friend’s wedding.  Or your cat’s wedding. Or the wedding of your cat’s friend.    You see, I hate speaking in public.   I’m actually very shy.

This is something that most people can’t seem to wrap their head around.  How can I possibly be a television host if I’m shy?  Well, there are 2 types of television personalities.  There’s the “look at me, look at me” television personalities.  Think Snookie.   And then there’s the “Please don’t look at me, please don’t look at me” television personalities.  Think me.

While it is true that I put a lampshade on my head at a party I went to last weekend … it is also true that I was just trying to hide.

So when people ask me to make a toast at their wedding I stare blankly at them and then say, I’m really sorry but I can’t;  I have  an infectious tongue fungus.  Or more specifically I say “mfmmm bruuuuuu mfppppprf fdjfrrrrmbrap“.  And then I run away.

Part of the problem is, not only am I shy about talking in front of large groups of people (television viewers aren’t scary because I can’t see them) … I also have no idea how to make a toast.  Making a good toast is an actual skill with rules and regulations. I didn’t know this until I did a segment on my lifestyle show Playing House on W Network last year.  Turns out if you follow a few rules, making a toast isn’t nearly as stressful as you’d think.

How to Make a Toast


featuring Karen Bertelsen and Mike Chalut


Beginning –  Introduce yourself and explain how you  know the person you are toasting.  (Hi I’m Karen.  I met Agnes in jail.)

Middle – Tell a nice/entertaining/engaging story or fact about the person you are toasting. (Agnes always offered me her extra ketchup on french fry day )

End – Raise your glass and look the person you are toasting in the eye and say “To (insert person’s name here)”. (To Agnes!  Here’s to good behavior!)

For those who are wondering, Agnes is a fictional character, made up for the purpose of enhancing this post.  Any resemblance or similarities to an actual jailhouse Agnes is purely coincidental.


  1. Tony says:

    What are you doing sitting on the counter holding a CHICKEN?

  2. Tony says:

    When making a toast,, isnt everyone suppose to stand EXCEPT the person that you are toasting??

  3. Patti says:

    haha. I read that “Agnes offered me her spare kidney”

    Nice, eh?

  4. Pam'a says:

    Don’t forget:

    ::bride giggling to hide furious embarassment::

    ::parents of bride gasping::

    ::nearest friend of toaster yanking on toaster’s clothing in an attempt to shut them up::


  5. Greer says:

    I wish we had your show here! Get someone in South Africa to buy into it already!

  6. Sarah P says:

    I wish everyone could read your advice! I have been to far too many weddings where each toast went like this:

    Entertaining story
    Engaging Story
    Nice Story
    Another Story
    “Oh, that reminds me of the time…”
    …the thing that happened after that last story
    Seems-like-it’s-wrapping-up-but-isn’t story
    Another Story
    “But what I really wanted to say is…”
    Another Story

  7. nancy says:

    Karen, this is seriously the only blog that I actually read word for word. You are just so damn HILARIOUS, I LOVE YOU! I used to see you do those in-between commercial segments about funny news and I remember thinking, this chick needs her own late night show or something, I’m so glad I found you here!!

    • Karen says:

      Nancy! I’m so glad you found me here too! I mean, I’d rather you had found me hosting my own late night tv show, but … here’s good too. I guess. Actually now I’m depressed. ~ karen

  8. Traci says:

    Is it weird that I got giddy at the prospect of hearing your ACTUAL voice instead of the weird, slightly alien voice, that I assign to you in my head while reading your posts? Thank you for not being overly bubbly and obnoxious, I think I love you even more now!!

    • Karen says:

      Traci! LOL, thanks. Don’t forget, I have a whole “video” section on the blog so you can peruse any video at any given time and hear the weird, slightly alien voice that comes out of my actual mouth. :) ~ karen

  9. Nicole H. says:

    I’m hoping that the horror of my Maid of Honor’s speech at my wedding eventually turns into a quirky and funny memory for me. She not only decided to “wing it”–which turned into her more grasping for words–but her phone went off halfway during her “speech”. Definitely wish I could have forwarded this post to her.

  10. Alyssa says:

    So helpful! My sister’s wedding is coming up.. and seeing how the only toast I witnessed this pass year felt like an eternity, though it may have only been 8 minutes or so, I had no idea where to start!

  11. Pam says:

    I’m Pam, I know Karen through her blog. Karen is witty, creative, smart, and always makes me feel like I can do anything. Here’s to Kare, the Blog Queen!

  12. Lin N says:

    It’s really early morning and I was half way thru your post before I understood you were talking about “making A toast and not “making toast”! I suppose there are rules and regulations for making toast as well! LOL

  13. mel says:

    “Hi, i’m mel. I met karen at the internet. (that sounds a little bit creepy..)

    First thing in the morning, after startig my computer and making sure there is enough coffee around me, i visit her website, and she never fails to put a big grin on my face.

    To Karen! Mornings would be so much more pain without you!”

    I guess i got it… right?

  14. muscratlove says:

    Thank you, but even just watching this video gave me butterflies and pit-sweat.
    Excuse me a moment while I go vomit, so that I can get past this feeling, and back to work. eep!

  15. Amy Schmucker says:

    I would never be asked to make a toast, but I usually take over for those shy ones. I just jump in and take over as they start tripping over words.
    I would never be asked b/c I tend to ramble and talk forever. Sometimes I lead us in prayer before dinner.. And I promise this is true, At thanksgiving one year, Grandma, not mine but someones grandma, stood up and yelled, “great now my soup is cold.” after I finished the prayer.

    I guess my prayer was too long. It was a room full of two different faiths so I had to make sure it was basic enough not to insult either side. I am more of an extrovert, not so shy.

    I have seen you shy ones. Your so cute. I am married to a shy guy. I am attracted to shy people b/c they think I am entertaining and never know what I am going to do or say next. They never interupt. Lordy Lordy, here I have just kept rambling on. I do hope we have covered this subject throughly. toasting, shyness, rambling, entertaing, introvertedness and thankgiving prayers. Ok got it. Great story piece.


  16. Farquist says:

    Not to hi-jack your excellent toasting demo, but I got distracted by the “cake in a cup” segment. Do you think it would work with gluten-free flour?

    • Karen says:

      Farquist – mmmm I have no idea! Give it a shot and let me know if it works with gluten-free flour. I don’t see why not! ~ karen

  17. Julie shinnick says:

    Wow! A moving/talking Karen!


    Perhaps people wouldn’t look at you so much if you looked like a drag queen, instead of the lampshade??

    Thanks for the tips… I must go make some toast….

  18. Alexandra Dare says:

    I LOVE IT! This is so useful for my life! Or at least it will be. Once I’m famous and have to make toasts all the time.

    Because I’m one of those “look at me, look at me” television personalities. Or at least I will be, once I get on television.


  19. Pati says:

    Good to know….I too am very shy and things like toasts and speeches scare me to death.If it does ever happen I hope I will remember the rules… Thanks Karen :)

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