Let’s get the party started! How to nail the music playlist and set the tone of the whole event
Hand’s up if you think music is critical to the success of a party? We are unanimous, right? Music selection can make or break a party, and while I am no expert, these are the three rules I follow to ensure I nail the music playlist every single time.
#1 Make a plan before you start
Sitting at your computer dragging and dropping songs into a play list with no real plan is pointless. Sure, you may end up with a list of music that will last all night long, but will you actually achieve what you have set out to do? That is, creating a music playlist that will guide the atmosphere and vibe of your event.
Firstly, consider the type of event you are hosting, and what vibe you want to deliver. It’s no surprise that the music you would select would vary greatly between a 1st birthday to a dinner party for twelve to an 80s themed 30th birthday party. Jot down some words that come to mind for your event and you can then use these to guide selection and judge if each track is worthy of being on your playlist or not.
Next contemplate the overall make up of your guest list. If you have a real mix of ages, I do suggest leaning more towards the ‘oldies but goodies’. They tend to bring all age groups together on the dance floor. Movie soundtracks are obviously a great source for kid’s parties and some of the recent recordings won’t drive adults too far up the wall. ‘Shrek – I’m a Believer’, ‘Trolls – Can’t Stop the Feeling’ to note a couple.
#2 Order is key
Consider not only the duration of the party – for example collating enough music for say 3 hours – but also the basic runsheet of the event.
It might help to split the playlist into subsections, knowing that each part of your party may require a different vibe. Label the sections names such as ‘Guest Arrival Playlist’, ‘Icebreaker Playlist’, ‘Dinner Playlist’, ‘Dance Floor Playlist’ and ‘Late Night Playlist’. For example, on my wedding day, my husband set two playlists for our outdoor ceremony. When guests arrived, and were waiting for my big appearance, they were treated to laid back, mellow love songs. After we officially tied the know, we popped the champagne and increased the tempo of the song selection to keep the energy and excitement on high.
While the overall theme for your party won’t change, the order of what you play will help to build momentum and ensure there is never a dull moment. The “mini playlists” also mean you can mix up not only the tempos, but also the genres within the overall music playlist, without confusing your guests e.g. if you jump from “Cindy Lauper, Girls Just Want to Have Fun” to “Coolio, Gangsta’s Paradise”.
Hot tip – actually sit down and listen to your playlist and tweak it as required. Realistically, you probably won’t have it perfect on the first go, so listening to it is the only way you might pick up on areas that need some improvement. List to each song and think about the song that comes directly before and after it – are they good choices that work together? You need to pre-empt what people will want to hear next!
#3 Talk to your guests
You are not in it alone. If you are racking your brain to think about what your guests will want to hear, why not reach out and ask them? Building the playlist this way also helps your guests to feel really included and you’ll be surprised on the day – people will actually be waiting for their song time come on.
Don’t be afraid to sway from the playlist on the day. A guest requesting a song is a sure sign that they are having a great time.
Once you think you have nailed the perfect music playlist for your party, it’s not a terrible idea to have a few back up playlists of specific genres. That way if you find certain music is working better on the night, you’ve got a few options up your sleeves