Our Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide team is blessed to know many people worldwide who have contributed masterful insight to our bestselling book, Access to Asia. My co-author Dr. Liz Alexander and I are delighted that our book is in its second printing by Wiley. Congratulations to all of our contributors and many blessings to family, friends, and colleagues. We toast you with champagne or your favorite beverage! To welcome the new year of 2017, we share the following practical tips:

Non-alcoholic Toasts: Toasting plays an important part in New Year’s Eve festivities in many places. It is about celebrating the occasion, and not the liquid in the glass. Due to religious or health reasons, many people refrain from consuming alcohol. People undergoing medical treatment, pregnant women, those in recovery, or those taking certain prescription medication cannot take even “just one sip.” It’s impolite to insist that they do so.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages: Children and all individuals who don’t drink alcohol happily join in the toasting and celebration with a Perrier, San Pellegrino, Topo Chico, soda, sparkling apple juice, ginger ale, club soda, seltzer, juice, or any other creative concoction. Shy away from toasting with plain water; historically toasting with plain water signals reluctance or half hearted participation. If you don’t drink and are offered an alcoholic beverage, simply say “no thank you.”

To Clink or Not? You may choose to clink your glass, or not. Avoid making others uncomfortable by refraining from comments like “I don’t clink.” Etiquette is about others feeling comfortable in your presence.

Observing Toast Boundaries: In the U.S., New Year’s Eve toasts are extremely brief, sometimes 10-15 seconds; occurring with much fanfare at midnight! If you don’t want to be kissed by others, stay close to your date, extend your hand for a handshake, provide your cheek for an ‘air-kiss’ or excuse yourself before midnight.

Champagne: Champagne, once traditionally served only at the coronation of French Kings, is now associated with New Year’s Eve festivities worldwide. This fine beverage originates exclusively from the  Champagne region in France, northeast of Paris. Legend has it champagne was invented in the 1600’s by the monk Dom Perignon, and made popular worldwide by the widow of Veuve Cliquot. The best champagnes were made from blends of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes from different vineyards.

Champagne is a sparkling wine with added sugar which has been through a second fermentation, giving the beverage its trademark effervesce. The smaller and faster the bubbles, the finer the champagne. Scientists have determined that there are 95 million bubbles in a single bottle of champagne!

Champagne Bottle Opening: There is a proper way to open a bottle of champagne to avoid the spray, injuring someone with the cork, or spilling a precious drop! Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle while grasping the champagne cork gently with the one hand, and turn the bottom of the bottle firmly with the other hand. Be sure to twist the bottom of the bottle slowly, until you feel the cork gently release in your hand.

Worldwide New Year Greetings: Please stay tuned for our New Year’s Eve worldwide greetings blog in part II.

Regardless of when, where or how you choose to celebrate, our team, Kristen Eggers, Casei Malone, Amanda Alden and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017!

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural consultant, an international protocol expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She is accredited in intercultural management, is the resident etiquette expert for CBS Austin’s We Are Austin, regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, The New York Times, and numerous other media. She is the best-selling, international award-winning author of Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, named to Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2015 and recipient of the British Airways International Trade, Investment & Expansion Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.