Christmas Wrapping

"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.[1] It was written and produced by Chris Butler, with vocals by Patty Donahue.[2] The song received positive reviews and AllMusic described it as "one of the best holiday pop tunes ever recorded".

"Christmas Wrapping"
Single Waitresses-Christmas Wrapping cover.jpg
Single by The Waitresses
from the album A Christmas Record
  • "Hangover 1/1/83"
  • Chris Butler
The Waitresses singles chronology
"I Know What Boys Like"
"Christmas Wrapping"
"I Know What Boys Like"


In 1981, ZE Records asked each of its artists to record a Christmas song for a Christmas compilation album, A Christmas Record. According to songwriter Chris Butler, the Waitresses were in the middle of a difficult tour and the Christmas song commission was "the last thing we wanted".[3][4]

Butler wrote the song in August that year, assembling it from assorted unused riffs.[5] He finished the lyrics in a taxi cab on the way to the recording studio.[6] 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."[5] Bassist Tracy Wormworth was inspired by Bernard Edwards' bassline for "Good Times" by Chic, which had been recently released.[6]

Written while hip hop music was beginning to gain prominence, the song is "almost rapped" by vocalist Patty Donahue.[5] Its title, a pun on "rapping",[7] references the 1979 song "Christmas Rappin'" by Kurtis Blow.[8] Butler said he also "liked the idea of the word 'wrap,' like a wraparound, because the story is circular".[8]


The song is told from the perspective of a busy single woman adamant not to participate in the exhausting Christmas season. She has "turned down all [her] invites" and resolves to "miss this one this year". Earlier in the year, she met an appealing gentleman at a ski shop and got his number, but had no time to ask him on a date. Despite their attempts to meet in the following months, a succession of mishaps keeps them apart, from her having a debilitatingly painful sunburn to him having car trouble. 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 "guy I've been chasing all year", 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".[9]


"Christmas Wrapping" 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 UK Singles Chart in December 1982.[10] During the 2016 holiday season, it re-entered the singles chart at number 96.[11] It remains the highest-charting Waitresses single in the UK.[11] It has 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.[12]

Butler said that the 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."[3]


In 2005, Guardian arts journalist Dorian Lynskey called the song "fizzing, funky dance-around-the-Christmas-tree music for Brooklyn hipsters".[13] In 2012, Daily Telegraph writer Bernadette McNulty called it "one of the most charming, insouciant festive songs ever".[7] AllMusic reviewer Andy Hinds called it "one of the best holiday pop tunes ever recorded".[1] Each festive season, Butler makes a donation to the Akron-Summit County children's library in the name of the first person to tell him they heard "Christmas Wrapping" on the radio.[6]


"Christmas Wrapping" was covered by the British pop group Spice Girls as a B-side for their 1998 single "Goodbye",[citation needed] with lyrics altered to include a reference to British supermarket chain Tesco instead of the American chain A&P.[6] It has also been covered by Save Ferris (with lyrics altered for a Jewish perspective),[14] Kate Nash,[15] the Front Bottoms,[16] the Donnas,[17] Summer Camp,[17] the cast of the Broadway musical Wicked,[18] Miranda Cosgrove,[19] comedian Doug Benson,[20] Martha Wainwright,[21] the cast of the TV show Glee (with Heather Morris on lead vocals),[22] and Disney Channel star Bella Thorne.[23] British/Irish girl band the Saturdays covered the song for the film Get Santa.[24] Australian singer Kylie Minogue recorded the song for her 2015 album, Kylie Christmas.[25]

Sinkane, studying a Masters in composition, produced a cover for Christmas 2020. It featured Nancy Whang (LCD Soundsystem) singing lead, Nick Millhiser (Holy Ghost!) on drums and Money Mark (The Beastie Boys) on Moog.[26] Profits from this release went to The Food Bank for New York City.

Track listings and formatsEdit

  1. "Christmas Wrapping"  – 3:55
  2. "Hangover 1/1/83"  – 4:30
  1. "Christmas Wrapping" (Long Version) – 5:23
  2. "Hangover 1/1/83"  – 4:30
  1. "Christmas Wrapping" (Single Edit Version) – 3:55
  2. "Christmas Wrapping" (Long Version) – 5:23
  3. "Hangover 1/1/83"  – 4:30

Credits and personnelEdit

Credits and personnel adapted from "Christmas Wrapping" Vinyl liner notes.[27]


Chart (2018–2020) Peak
US Billboard Alternative Digital Songs Sales[30] 9
US Billboard Rock Digital Songs[31] 8
US Billboard Rock Streaming Songs[32] 24
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[33] 67
US Holiday Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[34] 12


  1. ^ a b "I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts". Allmusic. Retrieved December 23, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ NME TV Song Stories - The Waitresses, 'Christmas Wrapping' on YouTube
  3. ^ a b Pouncey, Edwin (March 6, 1982). "The Waitresses: What The Butler Said". Sounds. Retrieved November 17, 2018 – via Rock's Backpages.
  4. ^ Simpson, Dave (December 13, 2020). "Christmas Wrapping: The Waitresses on how they made a festive classic". The Guardian. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Petrick, John (December 22, 2005). "How an obscure 80s punk band created a Christmas classic". The Star. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d "Christmas Wrapping: the Waitresses on how they made a festive classic". The Guardian. December 13, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  7. ^ a b McNultey, Bernadette (December 16, 2012). "Christmas songs advent calendar: Day 16. The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Spears, Steve (December 5, 2016). "The story behind ... 'Christmas Wrapping' by The Waitresses". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  9. ^ Urycki, Mark. "Couldn't Miss This One: Behind 'Christmas Wrapping'". Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
  10. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 829. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
  11. ^ a b "Waitresses Chart History". Official Charts. Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 11, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Christmas Wrapping at AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  13. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (December 23, 2005). "Readers recommend: alternative Christmas songs". The Guardian. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  14. ^ Jane, Ally (December 6, 2013). "Video Vault, Episode 15: Save Ferris "Christmas Wrapping"". 333sound. Archived from the original on December 25, 2013. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  15. ^ "Artist Of The Week: Kate Nash". Buzzworthy. MTV. January 7, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  16. ^ Staff (December 20, 2011). "MP3: The Front Bottoms Get In The Holiday Spirit With "Christmas Wrapping"". Filter. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Summer Camp Cover "Christmas Wrapping"". Stereogum. December 3, 2010. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  18. ^ Gans, Andrew (November 11, 2004). "Stars From Avenue Q, Wicked, Hairspray and More Featured on "Carols for a Cure Volume 6"". Playbill. Archived from the original on December 25, 2013. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  19. ^ "Christmas Wrapping - Single Miranda Cosgrove". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  20. ^ "Comedy Death-Ray Christmas CD". 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
  21. ^ "A Not So Silent Night". Revelation Films. Archived from the original on December 25, 2013. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  22. ^ VanDerWerff, Emily (December 14, 2011). "Glee: "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  23. ^ Crooks, Amy (October 16, 2013). "Disney "Holidays Unwrapped" Details". Dis411. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
  24. ^ "'Get Santa' Soundtrack Released". December 3, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  25. ^ Sendra, Tim. Kylie Minogue: 'Kylie Christmas' at AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  26. ^ {{Bandcamp}} template missing ID and not present in Wikidata.
  27. ^ a b Christmas Wrapping (UK 7" Vinyl liner notes). The Waitresses. ZE Records. 1982. WIP 6821.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  28. ^ Christmas Wrapping (UK 12" Vinyl liner notes). The Waitresses. ZE Records. 1983. ZEREC.EP59.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  29. ^ Christmas Wrapping (FRA CD Single liner notes). The Waitresses. ZE Records. 2016. ZEREC.EP59.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  30. ^ "The Waitresses Chart History (Alternative Digital Songs Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  31. ^ "The Waitresses Chart History (Rock Digital Songs Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  32. ^ "The Waitresses Chart History (Rock Streaming Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  33. ^ "The Waitresses Chart History (Holiday 100)". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  34. ^ "The Waitresses Chart History (Holiday Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2020.

External linksEdit