Divine Dinner Party

Dinner Party Music Ideas:
Tips for Assembling Party Music Playlists

When you're planning a dinner party, don't overlook your ability to set the mood with dinner party music. While it might not seem terribly important, picking the right party music playlist can really make or break a whole affair.
Playing Music for a Dinner PartyThink about when you go to see a movie... while what's really happening is what drives a dramatic moment, it's the music playing in the background that does the steering. It works exactly the same way for social events.

So, you know you need music. Now the question becomes: how do you pick great dinner party music? Read on, or check out our Visitor-Submitted Dinner Party Playlist Ideas!

If you're planning a dinner party, we've got tons of tips and resources at Divine Dinner Party! Check them out at Dinner Party Central.

6 Steps to Creating a Dinner Playlist

1. Get the Tech

Of course, all of the tips here are going to be easiest if you have a music player like an iPod, and a program that makes it easy to download songs one-by-one, like iTunes. Sure, you can just make a compilation of your existing CDs and pop it into your CD player... but buying songs one by one, making a playlist in iTunes, and popping it onto your iPod makes creating a party music playlist a lot easier and more customizable.

Plus, this way, it's easier to create several custom party playlists to use throughout the night, to set the mood for different stages of your dinner party.

Special Party Music Tip for iTunes Users

If you've got iTunes and want to put together a party music playlist (or five), use iTunes Genius! With Genius, you select one song with the sort of tone you're looking for with your playlist, and Genius will make a 20-song playlist of your music with similar-sounding/toned songs. Done, and done!

2. Choose a Theme or Event for Your Party

The theme for your dinner party will lead the mood, and therefore the party music. Your dinner party theme might be based on a holiday, a special personal celebration, or on a specific type of food or culture. Need ideas for party themes? Check here for some great dinner party theme ideas.

Want some fun party playlist ideas for specific special events? You'll find a few good ones at the bottom of this page.

3. Consider your Party's Mood

When planning dinner party music, remember that the tunes are literally going to create the mood. The wrong party music can make everything feel a bit off, somehow... so it's worth taking a little time and really thinking about what's right for the situation and for the diverse personalities of everyone in attendance. The right music mix for one dinner party could be completely wrong for another.

Consider the following aspects of what you're looking for in your dinner party:

  • Mood (do you want a quiet night with friends, or a big party?)
  • Entertainment (do you plan to sit around and chat, or do you plan to play drinking games and get active?)
  • Focus (will people be focusing at all on the music, or is it just background?)

4. Plan for your Guests

When planning music for a dinner party, think about the follow aspects of your guests:

  • Age
  • Music Preference (of course)
  • Energy Level (are they laid-back, or prefer to dance)
  • What You Like Yourself (of course!)

Sometimes picking good dinner party music can be as simple as putting together a list of obscure 1980's hits that all of your guests loved in high school-- it's bound to get them having fun together and chatting away. Some things never change!

5. Go Higher Energy

When planning your dinner party music, also think about the energy level of your music. Unless you want semi-comatose guests wishing they could take a nap after dinner, it's generally a good idea to go high energy if you want to get people talking and having a good time.

Now, high energy doesn't necessarily mean techno or dance music or heavy metal. Just upbeat music that's fun to listen to and --though it may be nice-- won't lull your guests into a stupor. Your choice of a party music playlist can encourage the level of energy to where you want it to be without being intrusive.

Of course, some dinner parties are very mellow while others are upbeat and energetic. And there are moments --such as during dinner-- where you'll want the music to stay in the background. Plan your playlist accordingly.

6. When All Else Fails, Go for the Greats

Have a weirdly mixed group of friends attending your dinner party, or don't know what your guests like? One music genre that always seems to please people is a selection of greatest hits – be it Sting or Van Morrison, Madonna or Phil Collins. Other options include the Beatles, the Eagles, Billy Joel, Queen, Michael Jackson, Kenny Loggins, AC/DC and Garth Brooks (just to name a few). You will not run out of options here – so look for music you know you'll enjoy.

4 Tips for Assembling Your Dinner Party Music

Got an idea of just the kind of music you want, and now need to get it all put together? Follow the following three tips for putting together your party music and keeping it going all night.

1. Build in a Natural Flow

Dinner party music should flow naturally – if there are abrupt changes or big gaps it will be noticeable. In driving terms, it's rather like hitting a pothole. That will make the party feel "bumpy." Conversations will suddenly stall, moods will switch, people will begin to shift and fidget, and there will be a bit of an subconscious pall over the party.

2. Watch the Volume

Think of your musical choices like a backdrop. You want the party music to add something, not become a distraction. Warning: nearly every dinner party will have one guest that seems intent on cranking up the tunes, so keep your ears open. If you have to raise your voice to have a conversation, the music has gotten too loud.

3. Make it Last

Make sure you have enough music to last. You souldn't have to baby sit the CD player all night (you want to enjoy your guests).

4. Plan Several Playlists

There's nothing like having an emergency playlist if you see that your dinner party is stalling. People seem bored, aren't talking, and aren't moving around? Have a playlist set aside --something really fun and upbeat-- that will give the party a shot of adrenaline.

Fun Ideas for Dinner Party Music Playlists

Music For a Relaxed Dinner Party

Want to spend a relaxed evening with friends? Some great ideas for upbeat but unobtrusive dinner party music artists are:

Jamie Cullum
Billie Holiday
John Mayer
Van Morrison
Amy Winehouse
Dean Martin
Joss Stone
Ella Fitzgerald
Pink Martini
Al Green

This is just a sampling! Go with what you like-- and what your group might define as "chill"-- it's different for everybody!

Music for an Upbeat, Energetic Party

Want a more high-energy dinner party? Some of the following artists might be a good place to start. But remember... stick with what YOU like!

The Beach Boys
Scissor Sisters
Lady Gaga
Michael Jackson
Black Eyed Peas
Talking Heads

A Birthday Party Music Playlist

An example of a dinner playlist for a special occasion would be a birthday. For this kind of party you have a couple of options. Pick music the celebrant likes, music that was written/released in the year they were born, or music that somehow ties into the idea of birthday celebrations. Here's an example for someone born in 1965:

Rolling Stones: Satisfaction
Four Tops: I can't help myself
Temptations: My Girl
Righteous Brothers: You've lost that Lovin' feeling
Petula Clark: Downtown
Beatles: Help
Sonny &amb; Cher: I got you babe
Beach Boys: Help Me Rhonda
Byrds: Mr. Tamborine Man
Beatles: Ticket to Ride

Hey, it was a good year for music!

Romantic Party Playlist

Planning a romantic dinner for an intimate evening with a significant other? In this case, music becomes the proverbial "food of love." Here are some ideas for romantic dinner music:

Beach Boys: God only knows
Postal Service: Such Great Heights
Cyndi Lauper: Time after Time
Norah Jones: Come Away with Me
Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody
Beyonce: Crazy in Love
Eric Clapton: Wonderful Tonight
The Cure: Lovesong
Mazzy Star: Fade into you

Or practically anything by Van Morrison!

Night at the Movies Dinner Theme Music

A fun theme you could consider for a dinner party might be "a night at the movies". There are tons of soundtracks that work very well for dinner parties including:

The Sound of Music
West Side Story
Saturday Night Fever (great for a dance party)
The Godfather
Purple Rain
Dr. Zhivago
Easy Rider
Lord of the Rings
Star Wars

Fourth of July Music Playlist

Of course, this holiday will be all about choosing patriotic party music! Here's some dinner party music you might want on your play list for the Fourth of July:

Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA
Neil Diamond: America
Aaron Tippin: Where Stars and Stripes and Eagles Fly
Daryl Worley: Have you Forgotten?
Elton John: United we Stand
God Bless the USA: Lee Greenwood

A lot of these great songs also work for Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

Have a Favorite Party Song or Playlist?

Have a great playlist that's always a hit at your parties, or a song that you think should be on EVERY party playlist?

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Other Visitors' Playlists and Ideas

Click below to see party playlists and songs from other visitors to this page...

Bossa Nova Dinner Party Playlist 
In the early sixties, bossa nova was great like Stan Getz, Antonio Carlos Jobim, a quiet list should have songs like: Wave The morning of the carnival(manha …

Click here to write your own.

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After all, what better way to pass on your knowledge than to share it with other hosts and hostesses?

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