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Sax & Honey Blog

Planning a Christmas party: what size live band is best?

[fa icon="calendar'] Tuesday,15 November 2016 13:13 / by Andrea Blades

Christmas_partyIt's that time of year when thoughts turn to the season of good cheer - and the inevitable round of Christmas parties. Live music is a great addition to any celebration, whether you're planning an office-do or a house party.

So, if you're planning a Christmas party, how do you decide what size live band is best for your event?

Number of guests

The larger the number of guests at your Christmas party then, potentially, the bigger the sound (and the larger the band) you'll want. A lot depends though on the nature of the music that's being provided. If it's more ambient background music that you're after then a solo, duo or three-piece could be perfect. However, if you're looking for an after-dinner feature act to fill the dance floor then you may prefer a larger line-up for added impact.

Available performance space  

Ironically, a large venue size doesn't necessarily equate with a large performance space for a band. If you're planning a sit-down meal and the entire room is going to be occupied by tables then you'll need to consider what space you have available for your live music. Likewise, if your party is in a smaller venue, or at home, then it makes sense to choose a line-up that comfortably fits in the space and allows room for everyone to move. Don't forget to allow space for a dance-floor area too!

Set-up time

Live music takes time to set up, and the more musicians and equipment your band has then potentially the longer they'll need to get everything in place. Check with your prospective band how long they'll need to set up, and when they'd need to load in and out on the day. If you are planning a dinner followed by live music then will the band be able to set up while you eat? Perhaps they can use the after-dinner turnaround time to set up or would you want them to be fully set up before the event starts? 

The style of music

It'll come as no surprise that certain styles of live music require a minimum number of musicians. Jazz bands, for example, will typically comprise a basic trio line-up of piano (or guitar), bass and drums - and, with the addition of a vocalist and horns (sax, trumpet, trombone, for example), you can easily extend that to a five to eight-piece band. Rock/pop cover bands can often work in a quartet or even trio line-up, combining vocals, guitar, bass and drums. Soul or funk bands, however, will inevitably be bigger.  Their dynamic, punchy sound relies on a solid backline of piano, guitar, bass and drums. Add lead and backing vocalists and a two or three-piece horn section and you could easily be looking at booking a ten-piece band.


If you need a band that can be mobile on the night - perhaps playing in one location at the start of the evening and then moving to another room later on - then the smaller the band the more practical this will be. While it's fairly easy for a duo or trio to move themselves and their equipment from one place to another, it's quite another story for a bigger band that has loaded in a large quantity of equipment. 

Need some more inspiration on booking a live band for your event? Check out our eBook below.

How to choose the perfect band for your event

Topics: band, corporate, live music

Andrea Blades

Written by Andrea Blades