It’s that time of year again when us DJs get to play Christmas parties. Old hands will roll their sleeves up, take a deep breath, and get ready for what they know is coming, good and bad… but for newcomers to this, here’s a guide on what to expect, and how to do a good job of it.
Whether you’ve blagged the DJ slot at your office Christmas party, or you know your regular pub/bar gig will be overrun with workmates out drinking, or even if you’ve been brave and thrown an event for family and friends, these tips are for you.
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7 Tips For DJing Christmas Parties
- Play what they know – This is no time for trying to “educate” the crowd. This is the time for the hits of the year, the big tracks everyone knows. Save the cool stuff for any gigs apart from the holiday party ones
- Play the Christmas hits, but not too often – Think of the Christmas/holiday tunes (you’ll know what they are in your country) as “seasoning”, an extra flavour to add to your DJ sets. There’s no need to play all of them, or too many of them, or back-to-back novelty Christmas records, which may actually annoy people
- “Design” the drunks out of your DJ booth/area – Most party-goers drink more than normal at this time of year, some people who don’t drink at all will be drinking, some people who never go out will be out. This means, frankly, carnage, so make sure you do what you can to protect yourself, whether it’s a friend to keep people away from you, or a locked door on your booth!
- Be ready for requests/interactions – More so than usual, you’ll get your (drunker than normal) crowd wanting to ask for music. If you observe rule 1 and the next rule, it will be fewer than otherwise, but be ready (sometimes a “requests notepad” is a good idea)
- Have a “shit folder” – Sorry for the language, but all those unspeakable tracks that you really, really hope you won’t have to play? Put them in a playlist, and realise that at some point you’ll probably be glad of them (see rule 1 above). Play a game with yourself and see how long it is before you dip in there. If you don’t play them, people will just pester you for them anyway, so you may as well
- Remember, it is not about you – The bar is set very, very low at Christmas parties. People variously: Don’t want to be there (COVID, etc), have a LOT of other stuff on their minds, are dealing with office politics, are avoiding/trying to be noticed by another person, etc. Honestly, if the music is on, you’ve done 80% of the job, so just go with the flow
- Get more gigs from it – Because the bar is set so low by most for Christmas parties, when you do a great job, people will notice – so do a great job and get noticed! Make it work for you. For mixing ideas to make you stand out from average DJs, try our Mixing For Mobile & Wedding DJs course
I said at the start that old hands will just take a moment, then step into their Christmas parties, knowing all the above. The truth is you can have a great time DJing these kinds of parties. A lot of the time, DJing is about giving the impression you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, even when the nerves are eating you up and you think you’re doing the worst job in the world (you’re not).
Read this next: Dreading Your Next Gig? Here’s What To Do…
I think with Christmas parties the biggest trick is to realise that most of what goes on, and most of whether people enjoy themselves or not, is totally out of your control and nothing to do with you, so to paraphrase the late Rudyard Kipling, “if you can meet success and failure and treat them both as impostors, then you’ll be OK”.
Good luck out there – and do let us know your experiences in the comments!