20 Thanksgiving Toast & Speech Ideas That Actually Aren’t Cheesy

Exactly what to say if you're at a loss for words.

by Brandi Neal and Mia Mercado
Originally Published: 
Thanksgiving toast and speech ideas are all about gratitude.
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Ah, Thanksgiving. Typically a time to gather with family and friends to engage in merriment and passive-aggressive squabbles. Some people celebrate with family members they don’t see often, others get together with a smaller crew, and some sign on to Zoom for the occasion. But one thing that can be a party of your holiday no matter how you celebrate? The tradition of the Thanksgiving toast. If this year has you feeling less than thankful, these Thanksgiving toast and speech ideas will help provide you with plenty to say if you get nominated to give a Thanksgiving toast.

Regardless of how you'll be celebrating this year — your usual big family party, trying out a solo holiday dinner, hosting a Zoom Thanksgiving for a handful of friends or family — one thing is for sure: Thanksgiving is never dull. Even if 2022 wasn’t your favorite year, there is always something to be grateful for. This isn't to say you need to go full toxic positivity. But taking a small moment to recognize the things that got you through the year — whether that's friends, family, your pets, or Postmates — can feel kind of good. If you're at a loss for words this year, these 15 Thanksgiving toast and speech ideas will have you covered.

1. Express Your Love For Food, Family, & Friends

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to express your gratitude to family and friends for standing by your side this year. Consider this quote from Marcel Proust: "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."

2. Thanksgiving With Friends Toast

If you’re making a speech during your Friendsgiving, try this quote about friendship from Marilyn Monroe. "... Always remember your friends will be there quicker than your family. Learn to remember you got great friends, don't forget that and they will always care for you no matter what. Always remember to smile and look up at what you got in life.”

3. Love & Kindness Toast

Lady Gaga is always good for quotes about love, tolerance, and kindness — which are relevant themes for Thanksgiving, and the double meaning of feeding your family and friends and feeding the community is perfect. Try this quote of hers about acceptance: "I believe in a passion for inclusion... I think tolerance and acceptance and love is something that feeds every community ... You can try to find something beautiful in every single person, no matter what."

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4. Gratitude Toast

If you’re looking to express gratefulness in your Thanksgiving speech, try this quote from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose: “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

5. Thanksgiving Blessings Toast

Maya Angelou’s quote is the perfect Thanksgiving blessing. “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

6. On Seeing The Bright Side Speech

Looking for a lighthearted toast? Try this quote from Ellen DeGeneres in The Funny Thing Is... on gratitude that’s sure to make the crowd chuckle: “Gratitude is looking on the brighter side of life, even if it means hurting your eyes.”

7. Thanksgiving Poem

This excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s We Thank Thee is a simple but effective Thanksgiving toast.

For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

8. Acknowledging The Good Toast

Author Sarah Ban Breathnach’s quote on gratitude is a great reminder for the table. “Real life isn’t always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgment of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties.”

9. Take Note Of What Unites Us All: Food

If your Thanksgiving crew is there for the food and the food only, let this Nora Ephron quote be heard loud and clear. "The turkey. The sweet potatoes. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. Is there anything else we all can agree so vehemently about? I don’t think so.”

10. Lift Each Other Up Toast

If you’re getting over a tough year, try this uplifting line Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh as your Thanksgiving toast: "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

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11. Show Gratitude For Everything, Good Or Bad

If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving speech that highlights the real meaning of gratitude, try this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

12. A Moment of Reflection

Charles Dickens’ quote will remind the table to pause and reflect: “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

13. Just Be Present

If you want to focus on how thankful you are to be surrounded by family and friends after a rough year, try this Maya Angelou quote: “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”

14. A Perpetual Thanksgiving

Henry David Thoreau’s quote on gratitude Thanksgiving is a simple but effective toast: "I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual."

15. Everyone Says What They're Thankful For Toast

Make your Thanksgiving toast participatory by reading this gratitude quote by William Arthur Ward and asking everyone to go around the table and state one thing they are grateful for:

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

16. Shoutout Your Guests

Be sure to show love to the people — family or chosen family — that you spend the day with. Try a simple toast like “There may be better people in this world... but I don’t know them!”

17. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Address the humor of the holiday and make your guests laugh before digging in. “Thanksgiving isn't like other holidays. It's the only day of the year that you won't get offended when your grandma gives you the bird across the dining room table. Cheers!”

18. Take A Moment To Honor Those You’re Missing

Holidays can be a time of rememberence if there’s someone from your family you’rve lost over the years. Honor them briefly with something like “I'd like to take a moment to think of [Insert family or friend here]. We're remembering her here today at this table where we've shared so many meals.”

19. A Personalized Toast

You can get a bit personal with your speech if you prepare a bit ahead of time. Think of everyone that will be sitting at the table and prepare a few words specific to each of them to make them feel special and welcomed to your feast.

20. Share A Simple Rhyme

Keep is short and sweet with something like “Lotta bread, lotta meat, good God, let’s eat!”

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