‘Christmas Wrapping’ by the Waitresses: story behind the song

First released in 1981, the song “Christmas Wrapping” by Ohio band the Waitresses has gone on to have a long life. It was a quirky, fun song when it was released; today, it’s turned into one of the most beloved holiday songs of our time. 

But the song’s origin wasn’t so deliberate. As Mark J. Price writes in the Akron Beacon Journal, “Akron songwriter Chris Butler never expected to create a holiday classic.”

“Christmas Wrapping” was written by Butler, a founding member of the Waitresses and the band’s chief songwriter. “I was probably the least likely person to write a Christmas song,” Butler, who lives in Akron, told the Beacon Journal. “Christmas had always been a pain in the ass for me, frankly.”

The band grew out of the music scene in northern Ohio and was fronted by singer Patty Donahue. Aside from “Christmas Wrapping,” their best-known song is “I Know What Boys Like,” an early MTV hit.

As Butler tells it, he got a call from Ze Records, the band’s label, asking for an original Christmas song to include on an upcoming compilation. He had to write the song in the middle of a hot summer. ““I’ve still got the cassettes of me kind of grunting in the microphone, trying to come up with parts to present to the band,” he recalls. 

The title is play on ‘rapping,’ which was just beginning to hit the mainstream at the time. 

There are so many words in the song, Butler says, that singer Donahue couldn’t quite capture them all. “I didn’t do Patty any favors,” he said. “I mean, there’s barely room to catch a breath. In fact, the last verse, she ran out of air.”

Read the full story of “Christmas Wrapping” on the Akron Beacon Journal website

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