Memorise the words as many as you can so that you can meet your listeners with a smile. No ‘lah-lahing!’
Do have a run through before you set off (even if you’re with seasoned campaigners – there’s always somebody who’s not been before) and preferably do it outside to get used to the difference in the sound.
Use pitch pipes or a harmonica (unless one of the crew has really reliable pitch). There’s not much festive cheer in finding you can’t finish your carol because you started too high.
Work out a running order for what you’re going to sing – easy to forget when enthusiasm kicks in – to avoid decision-making huddles in between each carol. Try to be flexible – you may get requests.
Practise singing and walking at the same time. It can be quite hard if you’re not used to it. Pick a carol where the rhythm helps – like O Come O Come Emmanuel, (say with crotchet = 40-44 beats per minute) otherwise you’ll find yourself going ‘at the double’.
Organise the look of your group. Informal is good and a semi circle is practical. Try to sing without your conductor standing in front if possible. Don’t stand in one long row or you won’t be able to hear each other.
Give some thought to lighting. Lanterns are traditional and lovely, but headband lights could be very useful if you do need to see the music.
Wear light colours to be road-safe in the dark – reflectors on your coats can look very festive.
Be sensible about your safety. Alert as many people as you can about your carolling visit and go in as large a group as possible – it’s more fun anyway and you’ll get a better audience.
Avoid offers of hot chocolate or milky drinks to heat you up – good for the toes but not for the top notes.