The Best Music for Holiday Events: Setting the Right Festive Tone

A man with white hair and beard stands with his arm outstretched to a group of six people behind him.
“Music is the universal language of mankind.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


When planning an event, whether it’s a grand celebration, heartwarming fundraiser, knowledge-packed conference, or an intimate dinner party, you’re orchestrating an experience. A significant part of this experience hinges on the music you choose.

The Power of Music in Events

Music possesses the uncanny ability to control your guests’ emotions and perceptions throughout the event. It sets the mood, cues up key moments, creates an inviting background atmosphere, and even has the power to energize attendees. It’s no wonder that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow hailed it as the universal language of mankind.

To help you curate the perfect soundscape for your next event, our team at Live Oak has your back. Often our clients are unsure what music to play leaving our AV techs to scramble to orchestrate the right vibe. That’s why, we’ve put together our favorite playlists and best practices to ensure your event is an unforgettable one.


Music Playlists for General Events No Matter the Season

For general events like cocktail hours, silent auctions, fundraisers, conferences, and more, finding an easy listening playlist is simple and effective. Think music like instrumental and vintage jazz-pop songs (think the soundtrack to Bridgerton and Postmodern Jukebox), lo-fi hip-hop, classical, indie, ambient, and jazz tracks. This creates a sophisticated and relaxed ambiance. In addition, events that include networking may benefit from music with the absence of lyrics that allow for seamless conversation and connection.

Crystal Cliff, one of our seasoned Event Production Managers, shares valuable insights:

“Lots of our clients opt for upbeat jazz instrumentals. They want background music without the distraction of lyrics.”

A few of our favorite Spotify playlists include:

  • Postmodern Jukebox, Essentials Volume I – known for reworking popular modern music into different vintage genres, especially early 20th-century forms such as swing and jazz.
  • The Briderton Soundtrack – a crossover of classical and modern pop songs performed primarily by Vitamin String Quartet (VSQ), an American musical group known for its series of tribute albums to rock and pop acts.
  • Pearl Jam (chill playlist) – for the Seattle band enthusiast, lighter and acoustic tracks from the iconic Pearl Jam and lead singer, Eddie Vedder.
  • Lofi Beats – the term lofi comes from ‘low fidelity’, meaning lower quality or stripped-back production. Lofi music is a mix of hip-hop, jazz, and dream pop – distinct styles that come together for a cool, relaxed vibe.


Finding Your Own Vibe While Avoiding Overplayed Hits

We always love it when clients come to us with fully-formed playlists for their events. However, if you aren’t a music genius but none of the playlists above are your thing, you can also ask the AV tech to shuffle all songs by a specific artist or pick an artist’s radio.

Now, let’s talk about steering clear of the overplayed hits; we’ve all been there. When aiming to avoid the worn-out tunes that everyone’s heard a million times, a strategic approach is key. Crystal says,

“Trust me, we’ve heard enough of ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush; it’s time for something fresh.”

Other overplayed hits include ​​” Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night” by Black Eyed Peas and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Can you think of any other overplayed event songs?

So, whether it’s a corporate gathering or a celebratory occasion, let Live Oak guide you toward a playlist that’s not just heard but truly enjoyed.


Amplifying the Sounds of the Holidays by Choosing the Right Holiday Event Music

Selecting the right holiday music for your event is crucial. It’s not just about adding a festive touch; it’s about matching the tone and time of your gathering and amplifying holiday cheer. With careful consideration, you can add another level of connection and create an event your guests will remember for years to come. Here are a few tips:

  • Evening Gala: For an elegant evening gala, consider a classy playlist filled with retro party tunes. It’s the perfect backdrop for a black-tie event.
  • Afternoon Lunchtime Event: Opt for peppy, sunny pop music that adds an extra layer of vibrancy to your daytime event.
  • Before Thanksgiving: Keep the holiday tunes to a minimum. Not everyone’s ready for round-the-clock “Jingle Bells” in early November.
  • After Christmas: If your event extends past Christmas, don’t cut off the holiday music too abruptly. Some guests might still be in the holiday spirit.


Our Curated Holiday Music Playlists

What are your favorite sounds of the season? Laughter, forks scraping plates, the Kitchenaid, holiday movies playing on repeat, or the sounds of gratitude, of peace, of family and friends?

Being the audiophiles we are, we asked our staff to send their favorite sounds and songs for this holiday season.

Season of Gratitude playlist shows album covers of holiday music

Season of Gratitude playlistCheck out our staff picks for a soul-warming Thanksgiving playlist. From the classic “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie, to the perfectly placed “This Must be the Place” by Talking Heads – there’s something for everyone.

You either love or hate holiday music. Either way, it transports you. Our staff picked their favorite songs for the December holidays, just for you.


Spirit of December holiday playlist shows album coversSpirit of December playlistDecember memories are marked by sights, smells, and sounds of the winter season. We all have our favorites and they teleport us back in time just as effortlessly as always. Perhaps its the jingle of bells, the crackling of logs on the fire, children laughing, or the bustle of people shopping and gathering together.

As for the music, get your winter vibes on with our curated holiday playlist.


Curating the Right Playlist

Curating the right playlist for your corporate event is a subtle yet powerful art. It can transform the entire ambiance and make your event memorable for all the right reasons. As you consider the perfect soundscape for your next gathering, remember that Live Oak is here to help you achieve the event of your dreams.

And unlike holiday music, our AV solutions are in style all year round!

Want to discuss your event’s audio-visual needs or brainstorm more music ideas? Reach out and talk with one of our seasoned professionals; we’d love to hear from you.

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