By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 04-27-2022
Congratulations on your 18th birthday!
And more congratulations for taking the time to research how to put together a speech thanking your family and friends for coming along to celebrate your transition from childhood to adulthood.
That shows maturity. Or desperation.
In truth, we both know it's probably a mix of both! ☺
Before writing this example speech I set a scene in my mind. You need to know what that is in order to make sense of what I've written.
I imagined you, the birthday boy, (or girl), in the center of large gathering of family and friends, surrounded on all sides by well-wishers. I saw the love they felt in their eyes, in their smiles, and in the hubble-bubble of happy laughter uniting you all.
At a milestone celebration of this kind there are likely to have been several speeches before this one. Perhaps one from either your father or mother, another from a family friend of longstanding and maybe a few short toasts from your friends.
This example speech will be the last one. Essentially it's a thank you speech acknowledging all the support and love received over the years.
And here's the speech.
As you'll see when you read it through, there's a mix of humor and sincerity.
Try saying it out loud to get a sense of how it might work.
This is a moment I’ve waited a long time for. 18! I am an adult. Yep, I’ve come of age. Hard to believe, isn’t?
(Dad, you were not supposed to agree so quickly.)
I can now vote, drive a car, marry, buy alcohol, a lottery ticket and tobacco, get a tattoo, or join the military without having to ask permission. Let me see. Which one will I do first?
Perhaps a more honest question is, which of those will I continue to do without fear of getting caught?
And while you think about that, I’d like to say thank you.
Mom, Dad, my grand parents; Grandma Jean and Grandpa John, Nana Lulu and Poppa Stewart, my uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers, cousins, friends – thank you.
Those words are pathetically small and I know all the gratitude and love I feel for you will never be contained by them. Even if I repeat them over and over for the next hour or more it won't be enough.
You’ve given me, and continue to give me everything- love, understanding, and support.
18. Despite being a ‘know-it-all’ I know, I don’t. I’m a fledgling adult. I’m bound to flap around a bit, perhaps stumble a little. After all it’s my duty to! Just as it’s your duty to continue correcting my faults and pointing out where I could improve.
I’m lucky to have family and friends willing to put the energy and time into making me a better person! I want to make sure you all know I’m happy to keep my part of the arrangement going for quite some time yet.
The passage between being a child and becoming grown up is seldom straight forward, as those of you who’ve already had your 18th birthday, and then some, will remember.
I know you want the best for me. It means a lot that you’re witnessing this milestone in my life.
Once more, thank you.
It’s exciting being 18. With your help, I am on my way to becoming the finest version of me I can be.
And please don’t think for a moment, Mom, Dad, or anybody else that, because I’m now officially an adult, I will give up my quest to make the perfect s’more, stop playing Paper, Rock, Scissors, or not want to sit on the ‘birthday throne’ and wear the ‘birthday crown’ at breakfast time.
That, unlike this speech, must not stop!
If you can manage putting a similar speech to mine together, do it. I know it will be hugely appreciated by everyone listening, and the experience you'll gain in the process is invaluable.
The ability to stand up in front of others and confidently speak from your heart will take you places that you probably haven't even begun to dream about, yet!
If you've decided you want to speak at your birthday celebration, then to ensure your speech is the best it can be here are some points to consider.
1. Make a list of names
Think about who you want to specifically mention. Make a list of names beginning with those who have provided the most sustained, continuous support in your life. Remember you don't need to mention everybody. Some people can be grouped.
2. Consider tone
Who is listening to you? What type of language is appropriate or right for the occasion?
You want everybody to understand you - from the oldest to the youngest. Dropping in terms like BAE or saying that you're 'dying' will likely confuse and really upset your grandmother!
That said, to be authentic and genuine, you also need to sound like you. So steer a middle course, and remember you are writing spoken language.
If you want to find out what the characteristics of spoken, as opposed to written, language are click this link to open a pdf I prepared on the subject: Characteristics of spoken language
3. Content - what you are going to say
Decide what you want to say, and make notes.
Here's a printable thank you speech planner from my page on how to write a thank you speech that will guide you through the process with examples along each step of the way. If you're unsure where to begin it will really help.
(Use this link if you want to find out in more detail about the speech writing process.)
Think very carefully before deciding to include anything that could cause an upset. Families are never, ever perfect. For example, it might be tempting to call out your alcoholic uncle. But think again. What would it achieve other than shock? Would anything positive come of it?
I am not saying that people shouldn't be held responsible for the impact their behavior has on others. I think once we become adults we all should be accountable for what we do, which includes finding the best way to initiate change. ☺
4. Get your speech scheduled
Talk to the event organizers to make sure your speech is included in the event schedule.
The absolutely best thing you can do for yourself after writing your speech is rehearse it, and rehearse it thoroughly.
Use this link to find out everything you need to know about rehearsing a speech.
Please don't be tempted to 'wing it'; to give it without practicing it first.
Practice let's you know if:
How to write good birthday speeches - tips and suggestions for content and delivery
An example 40th birthday speech - a short warm welcoming speech from a mother welcoming guests to a dinner party in honor of her daughter's 40th birthday
An example 50th birthday speech - a speech from a long time friend to his friend on his 50th birthday. It's a gentle roast - loving and, teasing.