Christmas Party Playlist

by Richard Lee on December 9, 2011

Many DJs will perform at the same venue throughout December. Each night will usually see a different audience but how much will the music you play change each night?

This year I was asked to DJ at Magna in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Magna is an old steel works that has been transformed into a science park and events venue. The main room will comfortably seat 850 people and still have room for a large dancefloor, stage and even dodgem cars for the punters to enjoy as part of their evenings entertainment.

The night’s entertainment is shared between the DJ and a live band. Now I’ve worked with many bands in my time and some are good and some are…well not so good…but this band are fantastic! They call themselves the Bootleggers and not only are they great on stage but also easy to get on with off stage. They are a party band and their set list includes a large number of tracks that I would normally play as part of my set so I had to give my playlist a little more thought this year.

Everybody Needs Somebody Blues Brothers
Sweet Soul Music Arthur Conley
Can’t Turn You Loose Blues Brothers / Otis Reading
I Gotta Feeling Black Eyed Peas
Galway Girl Steve Earle
Crazy Little Thing Called Love Queen
Summer of ‘69 Bryan Adams
Let’s Twist Again Chubby Checker
Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Clash
Teenage Kicks Undertones
Don’t Stop Me Now Queen
Forget You Cee Lo Green
Sex On Fire Kings of Leon
Mr Brightside Killers
Disco 2000 Pulp
Moves Like Jagger Maroon 5
Just Can’t Get Enough Depeche Mode
Town Called Malice Jam
One Step Beyond Madness
Baggy Trousers Madness
Don’t Stop Believin’ Journey
Fairytale Of New York Pogues & Kirsty McColl

In order to create the right atmosphere in the room my Christmas set starts with Music For Food: Christmas which I use as guests arrive in the main hall. Once the guests are seated then I use a selection of festive favourites that I have compiled into 2 x 60 minute sections to play throughout the meal.

White Christmas Bing Crosby
Silver Bells Terry Wogan & Aled Jones
When A Child Is Born Johnny Mathis
Walking In The Air Aled Jones
2000 Miles Pretenders
Mistletoe & Wine Cliff Richard
Lonely This Christmas Mud
Blue Christmas Elvis Presley
Santa Baby Kylie Minogue
It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas Perry Como
In Dulce Jubilo Mike Oldfield
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Jacksons
A Spaceman Came Travelling Chris De Burgh
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year Andy Willams
Pretty Paper Roy Orbison
Sleigh Ride Spice Girls
Frosty The Snowman Jackson 5
The Christmas Song Nat ‘King’ Cole
A Winter’s Tale David Essex
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Dean Martin
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Frank Sinatra
It May Be Winter Outside Love Unlimited Orchestra
Saviour’s Day Cliff Richard
Last Christmas Wham!
Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy Bing Crosby & David Bowie
Driving Home For Christmas Chris Rea
Little Town Cliff Richard
Little Saint Nick Beach Boys
Thank God It’s Christmas Queen
Christmas Dream Perry Como
Winter Wonderland Tony Bennett
I Believe In Father Christmas Greg Lake
Stop The Cavalry Jonah Lewie
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree Mel & Kim
12 Days Of Christmas Spinners
I Saw Mommy Kissin’ Santa Claus Ronettes
Hey Mr Christmas Showaddywaddy
Jingle Bell Rock Brian Setzer

The music has been carefully selected to create the right atmosphere whilst the guest enjoy their food. Once the meal is over and guests are on coffee then I play a 20 minute section of more upbeat festive tunes with the volume slightly louder than through the meal, to create a livelier atmosphere in the room.

Mary’s Boy Child Boney M
Do They Know It’s Christmas Band Aid
Christmas Wrapping Waitresses
Wonderful Christmastime Paul McCartney
Sing-A-Long Santa Mix Singing Christmas Tree

During this section of music the dodgems are opened and the lights in the room are dimmed slightly. This allows guests to enjoy the dodgems, have a breather after their meal, go outside for a crafty cigarette or pay a call of nature!

Because Magna is such a large venue I didn’t want to start playing music to an empty dancefloor whilst standing on an empty stage so I created an intro mix to allow the audience time to acclimatise to the darkened room and louder music.

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Dean Martin
“Merry Christmas Everybody!” Noddy Holder Jingle
Warm This Winter Gabrielle Cilmi
Get The Party Started Shirley Bassey
Voice Over (1)
Glad You Came (Extended Floorfiller) The Wanted
Voice Over (2)
Hello Martin Solveig

This section of music allows me to entice punters onto the dancefloor and also give me time to put on my Santa suit…did I not mention that? I like to do things different when DJing so invested in a high-quality Santa outfit that I wear as part of my entrance onto stage for my Christmas events. By the time the intro jingle plays, provided by an X-Factor voice over sound-a-like, the dancefloor is usually packed to the rafters. Imagine the atmosphere when Santa arrives in the room…they love it!

Once I have made my entrance on stage then I kick into the first of my two main sets:

Yeah 3x
Party Rock Anthem
On The Floor
Give Me Everything
Chris Brown
Jennifer Lopez
Extended Pop Party Mix
The Time (Dirty Bit) Extended Floorfiller Black Eyed Peas
I’m Your Man Extended Floorfiller Wham
Keep On Movin’ Five
Dance With Me Tonight Extended Floorfiller Olly Murs
Valerie Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse
Sound Of The Underground Girls Aloud
Single Ladies Extended Floorfiller Beyonce
The Edge Of Glory Lady GaGa
Changed The Way You Kiss Me Example
Don’t Stop The Party Black Eyed Peas
Stop Erasure
Livin’ On A Prayer Bon Jovi
Let’s Stick Together ‘88 Bryan Ferry
Sweet Child O’Mine Guns ‘n’ Roses
Soul Banana Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers
Merry Christmas Everyone Shakin’ Stevens
Mony Mony Extended Floorfiller Tommy James & the Shondells

The age group of the audience varies from 18 to 60+ so I like to start with a selection of pop/dance tracks as the young girls are always the first on the dancefloor and they will give me a core group to work with in order to build the right atmosphere. A strong 30 minute pop/dance section creates the base for me to change the music direction without fear of everyone walking off the dancefloor.

The change of music can be anything from 60s or 70s but I choose to go with the 80s and use Wham’s ‘I’m Your Man’ to move into a party section. The screams from the audience assure me that I have made the right choice.

The first set is rounded off with a couple of guaranteed party favourites. Jive Bunny ‘Soul Banana’ never fails, although I have had to engineer a special version as the band perform ‘Sweet Soul Music’ as part of their set. Shakin’ Stevens ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ gives the room a seasonal lift and ‘Mony Mony’ is on stand by just in case the band aren’t quite ready…which happened last weekend!

My second set is a lot less structured than the first as it allows me to play a few requests amongst my planned set:

Billie Jean
The One & Only
Since You’ve Been Gone
Two Can Play That Game
Raise Your Glass
Relight My Fire
Michael Jackson
Justin Timberlake
Chesney Hawkes
Bobby Brown
Katy Perry
Take That
Grandmaster Christmas Party (Section)
Only Girl (In The World) Extended Floorfiller Rihanna
Sexy Chick David Guetta
OMG Usher
When Love Takes Over David Guetta
It’s Raining Men vs. Baggy Trousers
Let’s Party
All I Want For Christmas (Is You)
Outro Voice Over
Weather Girls/ Madness
Jive Bunny
Mariah Carey
Grandmaster 80s Party (Section)

‘Billie Jean’ is always a winner, I love this track and so does the audience. The next section of tracks is inspired by the recently produced Grandmaster Christmas Party. I’m a great believer in keeping things simple so using the tracks within the mix as a guide I mix some of the set live and use some pre-mixed sections to allow me to work the crowd from the stage.

The second set features a bit of everything, from Rihanna to Usher, Rainbow to Madness and rounding off with ‘Let’s Party’ by Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers before ending my show with ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ by Mariah Carey. Everyone has their own way of rounding a night of but this one just works for me as it achieves a euphoric high to end on.

My Christmas set is made up of individual tracks, Extended Floorfillers, Triple Trackers, Mixes & Grandmasters and they serve me well whatever event I am performing at. By taking the time to plan a set for each event it allows me to create the perfect playlist. I always encourage requests but when playing at larger venues like Magna it isn’t always possible to play them all. A structured playlist gives me a head start on the night and gives me the confidence to deliver the right selection of music to my audience.

I’m performing 11 times at Magna and each set will include a large selection of the same tracks in almost the same order. Whilst I, and the staff, have heard the same tracks in the same order each night, the punters haven’t and they are the most important factor to take into consideration. Of course each night won’t be exactly the same, where’s the fun in that, but if it isn’t broken…well you know the rest!

Happy DJing everyone!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Paul Allen December 9, 2011 at 5:58 pm

It’s good to read what others are doing. I to have much the same setup workwise, and I am now in my 13th Christmas at the venue. 1100 standing and 550 seated and nine Christmas function nights shared with a cracking band Party X (for the third year running), who worked the Barings Bank Christmas Party last night in London. We should get evryone to list playlists…..just to see!

2 Alex December 10, 2011 at 11:18 am

What about Soul Banana from 148 you have got it on download now I have used this at partys for years never misses the spot
keep it up guys

3 Helen Lee December 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Alex – Soul Banana’s listed on there, it’s THE essential party mix! :) Thanks for your kind comments!

Paul – Thanks for the feedback, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to post Rich’s playlist and see how it compares to others – feel free to email yours to and we’ll use it as a blog also. We’ll post some more of the Mastermix Producers’ playlists over the coming months, we also hope it’s helpful for people who are just starting out and unsure what to play. Of course every night is different and every DJ has their own style, but this might serve as a guide for some who are looking for help!

Helen xx

4 brian winter December 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I read this article with much interest. I am not a pro DJ and have not done any gigs for more year than I care to count but i was asked if I would do a favour and do a gig that doubled as a 50th birthday. This article had some very useful pointers that I was able to put into use. If have a number of your Grandmaster mixes and the use of these helped alot. All had a great time, and although I would not do gigs again regularly, I have been asked to do a gig in 2012. Thanks.

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