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Plan and celebrate the topping-out ceremony: the best tips
Plan and celebrate the topping-out ceremony: the best tips
Video: Plan and celebrate the topping-out ceremony: the best tips
Video: Topping Out Ceremony 2023, February

The topping-out ceremony is traditionally celebrated when the shell is finished. In Austria, the festival is also referred to as an umbrella match and in Switzerland as a topping-up, with many regional names. We give you helpful tips on how to organize a successful topping-out ceremony and provide you with a lot of interesting background knowledge.

It's finally here - the shell is in place. Put the tool away, knock the dust off your clothes - and enjoy what you have achieved with craftsmen, helpers and family. The topping-out ceremony is one of the most beautiful traditions of the house building adventure: as soon as the roof structure is finished - i.e. the future home has its shape and height - you celebrate the milestone. The topping-out ceremony has marked an important construction progress since the 14th century and, at the same time, strengthened the contact between all those involved.

At the topping-out ceremony, builders would like to thank all of the craftsmen and helpers in the structural work, they donate food and drinks. So the builder pays. Even if building a house is a financial feat anyway, don't skimp now! With a good mood and appreciation, work is easier for everyone. In addition, problems can often be solved more harmoniously. Incidentally, the expenses are considered as ancillary construction costs and can usually be used for tax purposes. It is therefore worth collecting receipts.

The topping-out ceremony is also a good opportunity to get to know the new neighbors. The most important thing, however, is the topping-out wreath. Decorated with colorful ribbons, this is attached to the roof truss by the carpenter. In some regions, a tree is attached to the ridge instead of the wreath. Then the carpenter made a token in which he expressed his thanks and drank a schnapps for the welfare of the homeowner. Afterwards, the glass is usually thrown to the ground - if it breaks, a positive future is imminent.

It is common to hold the topping-out ceremony on a weekday - so all carpenters can take part. You should also invite representatives of the house construction company, architect and site manager. Nothing special needs to be served when eating. Often people just grill.

Celebrating the topping-out ceremony - is that a must?

Certainly there is no obligation to celebrate a topping-out ceremony. If you don't, you may miss a unique opportunity to give your house construction the appropriate setting as a special event. After all, you usually only build a house once in a lifetime, and celebrating with friends and acquaintances is fun, isn't it? The topping-out ceremony marks an important point in the construction process. If you are dealing with the question of whether you are celebrating a topping-out ceremony or not, you should remember that this celebration is a thank you for the many committed craftsmen who have worked on your shell. In addition, with the topping-out ceremony you maintain a beautiful tradition, which is surely appreciated by everyone involved. It is also the ideal opportunity to get to know future neighbors. Even if you "only" build a prefabricated house, you should not do without this party.

Skillfully prepare and organize the topping-out ceremony

For a good planning of the topping-out ceremony, ask the architect or the site manager when the roof structure will be completed, because this is the usual and traditional time for the topping-out ceremony. However, it is also possible to celebrate the topping-out ceremony only when the roof is covered and windows and doors are installed. In this case one speaks of a tight fit. In all cases it is traditionally celebrated on a working day so that the craftsmen do not have to come in their free time.

It is best to start preparing two to three weeks in advance so that there is no hurry at the end. Certain aspects of the organization depend on the season. In the winter, a patio heater can be an option - even warm drinks are good for you. In summer you are happy to cool off. So bring cool drinks with you or think of a refrigerator or refrigerated van on site.

Who will be invited to the topping out ceremony? Everyone who supports the "New Home" project can celebrate. In addition to bricklayers, roofers and plumbers, architects, notaries, the contact person at the building authorities and, in smaller communities, perhaps the mayor. Your friends, parents and relatives listen to all construction site anecdotes or even pick up the tools yourself? Then they should not be missing at the festival! Say goodbye to old neighbors and toast with the new ones.

Where do you celebrate? Of course, where the reason for the party is: on the construction site. If it rains or is crunchy cold, you can move into the shell with your guests after the topping-out. Hang the tarpaulin in front of the window and door openings the day before, so that it doesn't pull, and switch on a heater on the morning of the celebration. If that's too uncomfortable for you, move the party to a nearby inn.

Material and Co.: Checklist to prepare the topping-out ceremony:

  • Set the appointment.
  • Invite craftsmen and helpers of the structural work - even those who will only be used later.
  • Inform the architect, site manager, employees of the building authority, mayor and pastor. Don't forget neighbors, friends, parents, relatives and lenders.
  • As the builder, you normally take care of the topping-out. You can make it yourself with brushwood, wire and colored ribbons, but you can also have it made in the flower shop or order it online. It is best to finish the topping-out wreath a few days before using it, so the green branches are still fresh.
  • Organize seat cushions, beer tables and benches.
  • A pavilion or a beer tent make you less dependent on bad weather.
  • A mobile toilet is a good idea if there is no other place nearby.
  • Buy paper tablecloths, serviettes, candles, paper cups and plates, garbage bags and toilet paper.
  • Organize music (CD player, DJ or band).
  • Prepare beer, wine, sparkling wine and schnapps and supplement with soft drinks, water and juices.
  • Order sausage / cheese platters, liver cheese, sausages or roasts from the party service, buy bread.
  • If you want to cater for your guests yourself: buy ingredients in good time.
  • Organize cutlery, possibly borrow from friends or from specialized companies.
  • Obtain / tinker suitable table decorations for house building.
  • Borrow jugs for friends' final coffee or pack the coffee machine.
  • Take coffee cups, sugar, sweetener, milk and spoon with you to stir.
  • Open the fan heater, tarpaulin and lights.
  • Disarm danger spots on the construction site.
  • Bring a few photos of the construction process.

Celebrate the topping out ceremony - the typical process

Who does what? First, the builder greets his guests. It is customary for him to be able to hit the last nail in the entablature - and to expect mocking comments if it is wrong in the wood.

The carpenters attach trees, topping-out wreath or topping-out crown to the roof. It is the client's job to organize the green and decorate it with colorful ribbons in advance.

The master carpenter or a journeyman delivers the judge from the roof. It is a rhyme that is supposed to give blessings and happiness - this festival is not only a thank you to all companions, but also the baptism of the house. Anyone who is creative thinks up a judge himself. Well-tried ones can also be found on the Internet. During his speech, the carpenter toasts the people below - usually with a glass of wine or schnapps. Finally, he throws the empty container onto the floor or against the wall. The broken pieces are said to bring good luck - just like the noise. It used to be believed that the noise drove away evil spirits.

Even today, music is part of a successful topping-out ceremony: perhaps the craftsmen will sing a song. A CD, the band band or a band also cheer up guests. The pastor, architect or your parents may want to say a few words. And, of course, you as the builder are asked: In a short (!) Speech, review the phase up to the erection of the shell, thank everyone and expressly invite you to a meal and drink - the so-called feast.

Snack ideas for the topping-out ceremony

What is eaten at the feast? For example, barbecuing is popular. Nobody expects champagne and caviar. Better offer something solid - rustic home cooking. Everyone likes sausages, liver cheese, stew and potato salad. You can leave the noble table linen in the moving box; Paper towels, biodegradable disposable tableware and tea lights are enough.

Small bites can be eaten easily while standing - without a knife or fork. Our tip: bread houses, cut into shape or cut out with a shape.

  • The quick option: salami cheese. 1. Cut houses out of tramezzini white bread (there are supermarkets, toast is also possible). 2. Spread the bread with a little cream cheese, place a slice of salami and cheese on each, then cover with a second slice of bread. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle chopped parsley on top. Your fingers stay clean if you wrap the bread houses up to half in a napkin.
  • The noble variant: Tramezzini with tuna cream and arugula (makes about 10 pieces). 1. For the cream: Mix 1 pack of double cream cheese with 1 can of tuna (strain your own juice beforehand). Chop an onion into pieces and fold in with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on the bread houses. 2. Cut black olives into rings. Place together with some arugula on the spread bread, place a second slice of bread on top.

Matching gifts for the topping-out ceremony

You are invited? Enjoy yourself - and surprise the host with a gift: if you like it traditional, hand over bread and salt. This combination stands for happiness and sedentariness. Other ideas for topping-out gifts:

  • Plants for greening the property
  • A voucher, for example for the hardware store or the nursery
  • A lucky charm, such as a horseshoe with the topping-out date engraved
  • A bird house for the garden
  • Give time - for example, watch the children spend an afternoon
  • An insect hotel - built or bought by yourself
  • A gift of money, creatively packaged
  • Mailbox or doormat
  • Funny gifts, for example a liquor scales or t-shirts with sayings

Common customs and rituals at the topping-out ceremony

Depending on the region, the topping-out ceremony is known by various terms, including, for example, building lifting, consecration festival, lifting festival, lifting celebration, lifting, lifting ceremony, ridge beer, impact festival, bat bat or window berry. In Austria there is a topping-out ceremony, a first-party celebration or a roof match, in Switzerland the topping-out ceremony. The customs that are part of the topping-out ceremony are often similar. Sometimes there are also special regional characteristics.

Alignment wreath, alignment crown, alignment tree

According to popular belief, the wreath, crown or tree are supposed to protect the house from damage and give its owners a happy life. The client is usually responsible for the organization of the wreath. The topping-out wreath is very common, but depending on the region there is also the topping-out crown with four brackets. The structures are bound from straw or other material and then decorated with fir branches or other tree green as well as with colorful ribbons made of fabric or crepe paper. At the topping-out ceremony, the topping-out wreath, crown or tree (mostly a young spruce or birch) adorn the roof. The carpenter traditionally attaches the topping-out wreath to the roof structure. A rather regional specialty is tree or building baptism. The owner or a young girl brings the topping tree up to the roof and is watered by craftsmen from above. Another custom depending on the region is that builders and craftsmen collect the topping-out crown from their neighbors.

Judgment and shards

The judge or blessing is usually given by the master carpenter, the bricklayer or the foreman. It is supposed to bring happiness to family and house and to protect them from evil. The saying follows a fixed scheme in which the builder and all those involved are praised and asked for God's protection. Afterwards, the artisan toasts the owner with schnapps or a glass of wine and then smashes the glass on the floor or against the house. The glass should break, because shards bring luck. Otherwise, superstition says that misfortune threatens.

Drive in the last nail

It is a tradition that the builder strikes the last nail himself. However, carpenters make fun of sabotaging the process - for example, by giving the owner an unsuitable hammer. Sometimes he has to use a special carpenter's nail, the "rat tail", or the pre-drilled hole is too small. For each hammer blow required, the unfortunate must pay a round of schnapps or beer, and if the nail that has been hammered in is ultimately crooked, he has to pay additional rounds as a "penalty".

Stingy builders

Carpenters and other craftsmen are often very conscious of tradition and conscientiously maintain old customs. If the client was too stingy or did not even hold a topping-out ceremony at all, he would have to expect “punitive measures” from these craftsmen. Instead of a topping-out tree, the carpenter can, for example, set up a bare tree or a steel broom and hang it with bottles or pickled herring. An even more draconian punishment is when the artisans hole an empty bottle and wall it up in the gable. The wind then creates a wailing howl that is supposed to remind the miser of his faux pas.


When the groundbreaking, several responsible people often lend a hand. It is considered a symbolic act and marks the start of construction.

Photo: iStock / JasonDoiy

Other celebrations, customs and traditions related to house building

Building a house is a great adventure for all builders and is celebrated with different celebrations and customs. Some festivals are based on centuries-old traditions.


The start of construction is usually celebrated with the groundbreaking. After all, it used to be common to work with a spade and shovel. Nowadays, the custom only serves as a symbolic act. If possible, the groundbreaking took place on a Saturday, so that the following Sunday could recover from the celebration. In public projects, it is common for celebrities or officials, such as the mayor, to perform this symbolic act. Often, several managers are involved at the same time.

Laying the foundation stone

The laying of the foundation stone is also a custom at the start of construction and is already mentioned in the Bible. The foundation stone is usually a stone that is still visible after the end of construction. The stone is usually hollow and is filled, for example, with a capsule that contains contemporary documents such as daily newspapers or symbolic objects. Occasionally, only the date of the laying of the foundation stone is incorporated into the stone.

Bread and salt

Bread and salt are not only given away at weddings, but are also a tradition at inauguration. You wish the builders that they can make ends meet. Because these two staple foods are a symbol that nobody has to go hungry. In addition, salt used to be a very valuable commodity that was even subject to customs duties. But not only wealth should move into the new home. The salt is also said to drive away illness, misfortune and demons.

House blessing

In Christianity, when moving into a new house, it is common for a priest to bless the house. A prayer and a blessing are said and the building is sprinkled with holy water. The goal is to avert mischief. Sayings or Christ monograms on the facade serve the same purpose. If you pay attention, you can discover such house inscriptions on many old buildings.


In the past, planting a house tree was part of building a house. The tree should offer protection and protect against disaster.

Photo: GPP Green Press Portal

Put up a tree

Trees used to be planted during important events such as the conclusion of peace. But private and family highlights were also marked in this way. In the 19th century it was a tradition to plant a house tree when building a house. It should serve as a souvenir and symbol and at the same time protect the house and the residents. However, think carefully beforehand where you want to plant the house tree. Because over time it will cast shadows and thus take away a lot of light. Also, don't plant your tree too close to the house. Frequently planted trees are apple trees, linden trees, maple trees or even the cherry tree.

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