(The original version of this article was first published on the Mp3 Backing Trax website circa 2006 – 2012)
December is the time when most professional artists get all those extra bookings coming in for Christmas party gigs. The real pros with years of experience know that it pays to plan a long way ahead and these smart singers have their Christmas set-lists all made up long before this, usually by mid-November.
Christmas shows are all about getting your audience in to the party mood, and a good selection of Christmas backing tracks poured on top of the good cheer, magic of the occasion, mince pies and a few lashings of mulled wine is enough to make any party go with a bang!
So, just how many Christmas backing tracks should you include in your show?
The answer depends very much on whether you’ve been booked specially to perform at a Christmas party night, or whether you are singing at a normal gig which just happens to be during the month of December. As you can imagine, you would be expected to sing more Christmas songs at a Christmas party night than you would at a normal gig.
As a rough guide, if you’ve been booked to provide the entertainment at a Christmas party night, then in one 45 minute set – which is about 15 songs – I would recommend you sing 4 or maybe 5 Christmas songs. So, if you normally sing 2 x 45minute sets in a night, then make sure you have at least 9 or 10 Christmas songs.
If you are singing at a normal gig and it just happens to be the month of December so is not a specific Christmas party night, then including 1 or 2 Christmas songs per 45 minute set will probably be about right.
Remember though that there is no hard and fast rule for this and it very much depends on your audience. If you’re not sure, why not ask them? Believe me your audience will enjoy it if you ask them if they want to hear more Christmas songs, and you’ll most probably find they’ll even shout out their favourites.
Even if an audience member who thinks he’s a bit of a comedian and shouts out “NO!” when you ask if they want to hear Christmas songs can help create a lot of hilarity in the room. You can have lots of fun talking back to him with funny quips about him being “scrooge” and a “Party pooper” etc!
Gigs during the month of December should always be that little bit more light-hearted and fun than usual because your audience are hyped up around this magical time of year. So make sure you join in the fun too.
Another question I am often asked is when to STOP including Christmas songs in a set list?
Again, there is no hard and fast rule, but most professional entertainers find that while Christmas songs really please audiences and get them in to a party mood, they tend to have the opposite effect and fall flat AFTER Christmas has passed.
So as a rough guide, I would say you should sing Christmas songs all the way up to and including, say, boxing day, then return to your normal gig set-list.
Most of all, make sure you enjoy your Christmas gigs and enjoy singing all your Christmas backing tracks. Audiences can sense when you’re enjoying yourself on stage and it really helps them relax and get in to the mood too.
Do this and you’ll create a very Merry Christmas for everyone!