It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas By: Jay Maxwell

September 15, 2013 by Jay Maxwell

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when the song, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” did not exist. Meredith Willson wrote the song and Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters had a huge hit with it in 1951, the same year that Bing Crosby also received airplay with his version of the song.

Since that time the message of this enduring classic tune is that at some point near Christmas, things begin to look different, they take on a festive appearance, the attitude of people are a bit cheerier, and a deeper sense of mb151_083reflection and peace is often embraced. As I write this article, it is the middle of July, so it is clearly not beginning to look anything at all like Christmas.

Unfortunately, for many people, even several days into the month of December, their thoughts are not centered about the holiday season. Life rushes onward at such an alarming rate with each day presenting a new deadline that we feel must be met. In short, our society often fails to slow down enough to actually enjoy the things that really matter in life. We often miss the fact that the things that matter the most do not have deadlines. Work does not matter near as much as we think it does. Deadlines come, deadlines go. In the short run, deadlines may matter. But in the long run, the things that matter the most are the things that involve our family and the traditions that are a part of our social fabric. Christmas matters.

So with all the daily rush and deadlines, when does it begin to look like Christmas? Naturally, the answer is different for different people. Many retailers begin to try and make it look like the Yuletide season shortly after the Back to School sale signs are removed in the malls, while millions of shoppers automatically kickoff the season the day after Thanksgiving. But we are not talking about purchasing presents (which for me only adds to the feeling of always being rushed), we are discussing that glowing feeling of peace that should come with the Christmas season. When does that begin? For me, that feeling of Christmas being just around the corner begins when my own company holds its Christmas party. That’s when it starts to look a lot like Christmas for me. I trust that is also the case for many people. So as mobile disc jockeys, we should be aware of this and make every effort to spread the good cheer of the season by playing the time tested Christmas songs that will get everyone in the mood for celebrating what this time of the year is all about – the things in life that really matter.

Let’s not forget that the annual Christmas party is in fact a party and “tinsel tunes” are not known for getting people out on the dance floor. There are typically three music phases to a company party – the initial social time with upbeat songs, the dinner hour with a more subdued sound, and then the dance portion of the party. The first two phases of the evening would be when the good vibrations from the speakers would produce songs like “Sleigh Ride” and “Winter Wonderland.” As both the standup comedian and seasoned DJ know, timing is everything when it comes to a successful performance. Just like a good punch line must be delivered on time, a DJ must know when to deliver the right songs. Starting with the songs in this issue’s list for the social hour will set the mood with upbeat Christmas songs. Guests will begin to tap their foot as they sip their drinks and mingle with their coworkers and get reintroduced to each other’s spouses whom they haven’t seen since the last company party a year ago. Once the meal begins, the transition is also easy as you begin to sprinkle the likes of songs like Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” and a version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (perhaps the new one by Lady Antebellum) through the air.

The most difficult transition is the actual dance portion of the event. Not because of knowing what to play, but knowing when to begin playing the dance music. If there are speeches to be made by the president or owner of the company, or awards and door prizes to be given away after dinner, the transition time is easy to determine. After those events are completed, the guests should be ready to “put on their boogie shoes” and proceed to the dance floor.

Over the years I have learned to make sure to know the agenda for the evening to get a good idea of the right time to make the third musical transition into the dance portion of the night. If you don’t know ahead of time when the dance portion of the party is going to start, someone will come up ten or twenty minutes into the event and demand that you get this party started right now – they are ready to dance. Of course they are not really ready to dance they just want to pretend that they are in charge. If you have already discussed with those actually in charge and know when each event will take place, you can smile and take the guest’s request and tell him that once the dancing begins (say, after dinner and the president gives out the annual awards) you’ll have everyone on the dance floor.

A few other tips for a successful office Christmas party include knowing what to call the party. Over the past several years many companies have adopted the more inclusive term of “Holiday Party” instead of “Christmas Party.” Though in all aspects it is a Christmas party, if the company is calling it something other than a Christmas party, you too should respect their wishes regardless of your personal beliefs. This would also reflect whether or not you play some of the more traditional religious songs on the list or not. Though the truth of the matter is that if it were not for the birth of Christ on earth over two thousand years ago, there would not be a Christmas party.

Yes, Christmas matters; and it begins to look a lot like Christmas for many people when they finally get together with coworkers and their families at the annual office party during December. Our objective is to get everyone in the mood in the beginning of the evening with the joyous sounds of Christmas songs to cheer their soul, and then always be ready to put the souls of their boogie shoes on the dance floor when someone yells, “Play Something We Can Dance To!”

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Jay Maxwell Jay Maxwell (29 Posts)

Mobile Beat’s resident musicologist since 1992 (issue #11), Jay Maxwell runs the multi-talent entertainment company, Jay Maxwell’s Music by Request, LLC, in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also a professor of Business at Charleston Southern University. His passion for detail and continuous research of clients’ requests can be found not only in this column, but also in his annually updated music guide, Play Something We Can Dance To.


Filed Under: Issue #151, Performing, Sound