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A very retro Christmas party playlist

by Angelica Catalano   Dec 14, 2013 12:58 PM EST

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The soundtrack for your holiday party will instantly set the mood for just how merry things will get. A retro playlist needs to be accompanied by enough martini glasses and cocktail shakers. (Half these musicians brought their cocktails up on stage, whether it was an act or not.) The fitting décor definitely includes tinsel and colored Christmas tree lights, don't be modest!

As the songs move in chronological order from a swinger's Christmas to a funkier, chill time, ladies can let down their hair and guys, loosen their ties (if you actually had them dressing the spiffy part).

1955 - "Christmas in New Orleans," Louis Armstrong, later on Wonderful Christmas
Reach into the depths of the 1950s to kick off your party with a truly vintage vibe. Armstrong has one of the most distinguishable voices, and with a brass band behind him, it's a truly grand entrance for your party. The quality is a little shakier than the rest, but that only adds to the retro feel.



1957 - "The Christmas Waltz," Frank Sinatra, Christmas with the Rat Pack
Background strings and a chorus of singers sweeten Sinatra's signature frank delivering of lines. It's a great way to ease into the night without in-your-face classic Christmas carols, which everyone will want to sing the words to. Wait until everyone's a little intoxicated before you attempt sing-alongs.



1959 - "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," Dean Martin,
A Winter Romance also on The Capitol Recordings Vol. 10 (1959-1960)
You'll probably be listening to Dean Martin's "Baby It's Cold Outside" classic, so be sure to check this one out, too. (OK, and "Let it Snow" while you're at it - especially if you really want to stress the Rat Pack holiday theme.)


1960 - "Frosty, the Snowman," Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas
Truly a treat for the Queen of Jazz to sneak into your holiday party, complete with an accompanying orchestra.

1963 - "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," Andy Williams, The Andy Williams Christmas Album
Andy Williams is so good at Christmas songs sometimes that's all he's known for. His velvety voice is warm enough to ignite even the coldest night.



1964 - "Little Saint Nick," The Beach Boys, The Beach Boys Christmas Album
It's pretty unique to hear an original Christmas song. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, the Beach Boys performed this first in the 60s and musicians have been covering it since.



1965 - "Jingle Bells, Sammy Davis Jr.,"
The Great Songs Of Christmas also part of Collection De Noel
Jingle Bells can be kind of annoyingly repetitive. This version has a punchy panache that makes it more swinger and sophisticated than juvenile. Sammy Davis Jr. is one of the kings of smooth.



1968 - "Merry Christmas Baby," Otis Redding, Merry Christmas Baby

Otis Redding can make any song soulful and sexy. Dress it in some horns and actual jingle bells, and you've got an instant Christmas classic on your hands.



1970 - "Up on the Housetop," Jackson 5, Jackson 5 Christmas Album 
Pure fun. For a second you think the Jackson 5 are just a group of kids excited for Christmas, rather than well-trained superstars, performing for you without missing a beat.



1971 - "Happy Xmas (War is Over)," John Lennon & Yoko Ono
A lot of merry vibes are thrown around with Christmas carols' mentions of Santa and snowmen. Wrapping the party up with this peace anthem kind of gets you as close to a universal celebration of the season. The interjection of a chorus of children either takes it one step cornier or more nostalgic, your pick.

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