Setting the right vibe for a holiday dinner party doesn’t require a Christmas miracle. If you’ll be taking on the role of chief playlist maker for your holiday gatherings this season, I’ve got you covered. After eight years of DJing, building a scientific music startup and a lifetime of playlist making, I guess you could say I have the art of playlist making down. It’s an art just as much as it is science, and luckily I’ve got experience in both. Here are some quick bullet points on the how’s and why’s of building your holiday music playlist.
- Don’t overdose on the holiday classics.
While everyone gets excited about their favorite holiday tunes, these songs can quickly become overplayed during the holiday season. It’s a great idea to use the standard Christmas classics sparingly and peppered throughout your playlist evenly. Why? Because according to science, our brains like to learn, and keeping your guests intrigued and surprised by interesting and new music selections will add an element of delight to your gathering. So it’s important to throw in new and unexpected songs in your playlist.
- Try a fresh take on an old classic.
While your guests are going to love hearing some favorite holiday hits, we’ve just established above that overplaying too many commonly played holiday songs can result in decreased likability and diminish the novelty factor. But let’s be honest, Christmas only comes once a year, and there are plenty of christmas jams to go around. So in order to not overplay too many predictable Christmas tunes, try out some cover songs! There are limitless options of holiday classics covered by new artists (did you know there are more than 200 different artists that have covered Winter Wonderland since it was first released in 1934?), and your guests will love being presented with a new, unique spin on a tried-and-true favorite. Et voila! You’ve got some crowd-pleasing, lesser heard versions of holiday staples to add to your playlist that will create a feeling of rarity in their aural experience.
- Don’t crowd out your conversations with overly complex music.
When you think about the vibe of your gathering, try to think holistically about the audible levels of the room. Will there be a lot of rich or intimate conversations happening? If so, that means you don’t want to choose music that will compete with the vocal levels of the room. In choosing complementary music, you can look for tunes that has less rhythmic complexity, less intensity and fewer number instruments or vocals. Or, consider putting your more complex music first, and shift to less complex later when the dinner conversation heats up!
To get you started, we’ve created our own holiday music playlist below. Enjoy, knowing you have the joy of music planning covered!