Front cover of picture sleeve of 1982 UK reissue
|Single by The Waitresses|
|from the album A Christmas Record|
|Genre||Christmas music, new wave, post-punk|
|Length||4:30 (single edit)|
5:18 (LP edit)
|Label||Ze WIP 6763 (1981)|
Ze WIP 6821 (1982)
|The Waitresses singles chronology|
"Christmas Wrapping" is a Christmas song by the American new wave band the Waitresses. It was first released on the 1981 compilation album A Christmas Record on ZE Records, and also appears on the Waitresses' 1982 EP I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts and numerous Christmas holiday compilation albums. It was written and produced by Chris Butler, with vocals by Patty Donahue. The song received positive reviews and AllMusic described it as "one of the best holiday pop tunes ever recorded."
In 1981, ZE Records asked each of its artists to record a Christmas song for a Christmas compilation album, A Christmas Record. Songwriter Chris Butler wrote the song in August that year, assembling it from assorted unused riffs. He finished the lyrics in a taxi cab on the way to the recording studio. The lyrics came from Butler's hatred of Christmas: "Everybody I knew in New York was running around like a bunch of fiends. It wasn't about joy. It was something to cope with."
The song is told from the perspective of a busy single woman adamant not to participate in the exhausting Christmas period. She has "turned down all [her] invites" and resolves to "miss this one this year". Earlier in the year, she met an appealing man at a ski shop and got his number, but had no time to ask him out. Despite their attempts to meet in the following months, a succession of mishaps keeps them apart. On Christmas Eve, the woman is roasting "the world's smallest turkey" for herself when she realizes she has forgotten to buy cranberries. At a 24-hour grocery store, she runs into the man, who has also forgotten to buy cranberries, bringing her Christmas "to a very happy ending". In the final refrain, she admits that she "couldn't miss this one this year".
Release and reception
The song was an immediate and unexpected success. According to Butler, the Waitresses were in the middle of a difficult tour and the Christmas song commission was "the last thing we wanted". He recalled later that its enthusiastic reception was a rejuvenating gift for the band: "We do the Christmas song, forget about it and go back on the road. The next thing I know when calling back to New York is that it's all over the radio and much to our surprise it leaps over our heads and hits all the cities where we're heading and all of a sudden we're back on an upswing again."
The song was released as a single in the UK in 1981 on Island Records. Although it did not make the charts that year, it was reissued in 1982 and reached No. 45 on the official UK Singles Chart in December 1982.
Writing in 2005, Guardian arts journalist Dorian Lynskey called the song "fizzing, funky dance-around-the-Christmas-tree music for Brooklyn hipsters." In 2012, Daily Telegraph writer Bernadette McNulty called it "one of the most charming, insouciant festive songs ever." AllMusic reviewer Andy Hinds called it "one of the best holiday pop tunes ever recorded."
On the UK Official Singles chart, "Christmas Wrapping" peaked at number 45, spending two weeks there. It remains the group's highest-charting single there. During the 2016 holiday season, the song experienced a resurgence in popularity in the UK, re-entering the singles chart at number 96.
"Christmas Wrapping" has been covered by numerous artists. It was covered by the British pop group Spice Girls as a B-side for their 1998 single "Goodbye", with lyrics anglicized to include a reference to British supermarket chain Tesco. 'Cranberries' was also changed to 'potatoes' due to the stress falling on the first syllable in 'cranberries' in UK English. It has also been covered by Save Ferris (with lyrics altered for a Jewish perspective), Kate Nash, the Front Bottoms, the Donnas, Summer Camp, the cast of the Broadway musical Wicked, Miranda Cosgrove, comedian Doug Benson, Martha Wainwright, the cast of the TV show Glee with Heather Morris on lead vocals, and Disney Channel star Bella Thorne. British/Irish girl band the Saturdays did a cover of the song for the film Get Santa. Australian singer Kylie Minogue recorded the song for her 2015 album, Kylie Christmas. Detroit alternative rock band Electric Six recorded a version for their 2018 album A Very Electric SiXmas.
The song was featured in the film Fred Claus, Daddy's Home 2, A Bad Moms Christmas, the holiday special Shrek The Halls (sung by the Waitresses in the main body of the special and the Donnas in the credits), an episode of Gavin & Stacey, and a season one episode of Gilmore Girls, as well as the 2017 TV movie Psych: The Movie.
The song has also been featured on numerous holiday music compilations including The Edge of Christmas, Dr. Demento's Holidays in Dementia, and Now That's What I Call Christmas!: The Signature Collection.
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