Birthdays are not just celebrations

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birthday partyBirthday speeches should reflect the fact that birthdays are not just celebrations. They are also milestones in the life of the celebrant.  That is why birthday speeches or toasts are so important. They should reflect on the celebrant’s achievements and interests as well as being positive about the future. All of us like to feel special. We like to think that somebody thinks well of us. A speech that says that the celebrant is talented or surprising in some way will make the birthday boy or girl, and the guests, sit up and take notice.

If the birthday speech also mentions the good qualities of the celebrant it will be even more appreciated.  You might mention kindness or generosity for instance. Anyone writing a birthday speech should do his or her homework so that what he or she says can be special and very personal. It is important to give examples of that kindness or generosity.   It is nice to say that Mary is kind. It is much better to say that she makes meals for a housebound neighbour every day. It is great to say that John is generous but if you can give examples of how he saw how your arthritis was affecting you and bought a gadget to help pour out the water from the kettle so much the better. Give examples of their little unsung bits of kindness. Even if you know the celebrant well other people have a different opinion of him or her. So ask around for ideas.

Try to link up the celebrant with those present at the birthday party. Say it is an example of John’s popularity in his football club that so many of his team-mates are present. Mention that Mary’s colleagues think so much of her that many of them changed appointments so that they could be there to wish her well.  If it is appropriate mention someone who isn’t there but would be welcomed by John or Mary. So mention that person.

Of course it may be your own birthday and you feel you ought to reply to the speech or toast. Such birthday speeches are often just a mumbled thank you for gifts received but you can do better. You can make your guests feel welcome and say how much it means to you to have a celebration with family and friends.  You can talk about the various ways the guests came into your life as neighbours or friends. You can talk about having survived another year and mention the highlights of your life or of the past year. Of course it is polite to thank people for gifts and best wishes but it is even more important to thank them for what they mean to you.

Birthday speeches should be a link between the past and the future. Whether you are toasting someone or replying you should mention that fact. Above all birthday speeches should end with a personal toast either to the celebrant or to the guests who make the occasion special.

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