Design

Party Like a Rock Star: How to Host the Best-Ever, At-Home Karaoke Night

Karaoke is a hit the world over—and there’s no better place to belt out the lyrics to a favorite song than your home. Find out how to set up a karaoke night for the stars.
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Photo: istockphoto.com

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Karaoke got its start when a Japanese bar owner invited customers to stand in for a no-show band. Today, a popular pastime around the planet, the most popular karaoke song ever is the classic comeback anthem “I Will Survive,” popularized in 1978 by the glamorous Gloria Gaynor. All together now: “First I was afraid, I was petrified…”

Other popular karaoke songs in the top 30 of timeless favorite tunes to lip sync are “YMCA” by Queen, ABBA’s disco fave “Dancing Queen,” and the pop smash “Single Ladies” by Queen Bey.

No matter what genre you prefer, how long you can hold that high note, or even if you can carry a tune at all, an at-home karaoke night is a perennially entertaining way to spend the evening with family and friends.

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1. Take It Easy

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Photo: istockphoto.com

Other than the singers, the AV setup is the most important part of an at-home karaoke party. What you’ll need depends on what electronics you already have. There’s a dizzying array of options for putting together your own rig by mixing and matching components—microphones, speakers, amps, mixers, screens, projectors, and lighting.

If you’re just starting out (or can barely program the timer on your coffeemaker), why not take it easy and keep it simple with a karaoke machine?

2. Welcome to the Machine

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Photo: istockphoto.com

There are several advantages to purchasing a karaoke machine instead of building one a la carte. First, they are plug-and-play, so they’re super simple to use. You don’t have to worry about leaving a component behind or fret about the compatibility of cables and plugs.

Many of them are portable, so you can take the fun along on family vacations, or everyone in your friend group can take turns hosting a karaoke night. Karaoke machines come in a tremendous variety of price points, so it’s easy to find one for just about any budget.

3. Money Ain’t a Thang

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Photo: Amazon.com

The Tonor K20 Wireless Karaoke Machine is our pick if you have some Benjamins to spare. It has just about every bell and whistle most could want, including top-notch sound quality and wireless microphones with a 100-foot range. The Tonor K20 also offers built-in LED lights and a disco ball, as well as audio recording features so you can preserve everyone’s performances.

Get the Tonor K20 Wireless Karaoke Machine on Amazon for $419.99

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4. She Works Hard for the Money

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Photo: Amazon.com

A good midrange option is the Karaoke USA GF842 Karaoke Machine. It boasts Bluetooth functionality, a 7-inch color screen, snazzy LED sync lights, a 35-watt amp, and many other features that music-minded partygoers often appreciate. The Karaoke USA GF842 comes with a library of some 300 mp3s to get you started, plus multiple options for accessing additional melodies.

Get the Karaoke USA GF842 Karaoke Machine on Amazon for $149.99

5. Save It for a Rainy Day 

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Photo: Amazon.com

For the balladeer on a budget, look no further than the Singing Machine SML625BTWD Karaoke Machine. It’s a basic, Bluetooth-enabled model that can connect to a TV or use an iOS app to stream thousands of hits while syncing LED lights for that quintessential karaoke-bar vibe.

Although only one microphone is included, the Singing Machine supports two. It’s an affordable unit that can be pulled out for holiday parties, kids’ sleepovers, or casual, cozy evenings with the family.

Get the Singing Machine SML625BTWD Karaoke Machine on Amazon for $69.99

6. Get Ready (Bam-ba-lam)

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Photo: Amazon.com

Make sure to set up your karaoke machine well in advance of your guests’ arrival. It’s a smart idea to do a trial run, too, especially if you’re using any new equipment. No one wants to wait around while you troubleshoot a faulty connection or figure out how to select a song.

While you’re at it, rearranging the room might be advisable as well. Push furniture against the walls and remove in-the-way coffee tables or cat trees. Roll up the rug, and if your room is spacious enough, think about using modular dance-floor tiles to serve as your stage. Not only will a designated spot let your guests get their groove on, but it’s also super useful for entertaining outdoors.

Get the Big Floors Interlocking Dance Floor Kit on Amazon for $65.95 

7. Let’s Get the Party Started

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Photo: istockphoto.com

Unlike a regular cocktail party or a shindig organized around a sporting event, a karaoke party needs a little bit of organization. Otherwise, you run the risk of time-consuming, frustrating debates over which guest should grab the mic first, who will go next, and what songs everyone will sing. Ask attendees to come prepared with a few favorite tunes—you could even send out a song list in advance. Then post a signup sheet on the wall near the door or some other prominent location.

Build in about 30 to 60 minutes’ worth of buffer time, so latecomers won’t interrupt anyone’s performance and to let all comers have a chance to mingle, meet, catch up, and get comfortable. To give guests a general idea of when they’ll hit the stage, quickly announce the order of the songs and/or singers at the top of the show. Remember to allow for short breaks or intermissions, especially if refreshments are in another room.

Lastly, don’t feel you need to stick to a strict schedule or keep the tunes on track. This isn’t a talent show or even a bar’s karaoke night, so go with the flow. If guests want to change their song choice or do an impromptu duet, that’s fine. What’s important is that everyone’s having fun.

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8. Gin and Juice

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Photo: istockphoto.com

You know your friends best; chances are you don’t need any guidance when it comes to whether you’ll stock up on growlers of craft beer, boxes of wine, or bottles of the hard stuff. Amateur mixologists might make up a bespoke mixed drink for the occasion, or serve a variety of cocktails inspired by popular songs.

Just don’t forget the juice, soda, sparkling water, or other non-alcoholic beverages for those who are driving or just choosing not to imbibe.

9. Hungry Like the Wolf

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It’s a karaoke party, not a dinner party, so no one’s expecting elaborate eats. Easy party foods will suffice. Think chips and dips, cheese and crackers, shrimp cocktail, or a fruit or veggie tray, Or make planning uber-easy by designating your party a potluck. Consider suggesting that guests bring food that fits a musical theme.

10. Superstar

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Photo: Amazon.com

Get guests in the mood by setting the stage. Your karaoke machine probably offers some visual effects, but consider shining even more of a spotlight on your party’s superstars with a stand-alone light, like this multi-mode party light at Amazon.

To really bring out everyone’s inner American Idol, conceal the knick-knacks and framed photos on your mantelpiece by hanging an inexpensive backdrop, like this one that looks like a stage at Amazon. Really, any kind of curtain that is shiny or sparkly will work wonders, like this glittery gold backdrop curtain at Amazon that will set a glamorous, show-stopping mood.

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Prices are accurate as of publication on January 17, 2023.