I grew up around music. It was played throughout the house, I was given a radio for my room at an early age, and I have fond memories of my dad regaling us with childhood stories in the living room while playing his different records.
One of my favorite childhood memories involves riding through the neighborhood with him in his 1982 RX-7, waiting for the scream in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. If we saw a good movie with a good soundtrack, we bought the album. Music was a thing for us.
So it shouldn’t surprise you that I find most of my new music through my brother’s recommendations. It’s also no surprise that Christmas music is one of my FAVORITE things about the holidays.
Music is an intensely personal thing, so it’s hard to list The All-Time Favorite Christmas Songs For Everyone And All Mankind, Forever And Ever. So that’s why I’ll share with you MY favorite Christmas songs, along with my Spotify playlist and where on Amazon you can buy each song individually (it’ll automatically ask you if you want it in your iTunes).
Dinner party holiday playlist
For when you want a little pep in your home.
1. Sleigh Ride by She & Him
2. Frosty the Snowman by Ella Fitzgerald
3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
4. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
5. It Snowed by Meghan Smith
6. I Saw Three Ships by Sufjan Stevens
7. Little Drummer Boy by Jars of Clay
8. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! by Ella Fitzgerald
9. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams (shrift remix)
10. The Christmas Waltz by Harry Connick, Jr.
11. It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas by Michael Bublé
12. Here Comes Santa Claus by Willie Nelson
13. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Harry Connick, Jr.
14. I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Tony Bennett
15. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas by Harry Connick, Jr.
16. Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms
17. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Harry Connick, Jr.
18. All I Want for Christmas is You by Michael Bublé
19. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
20. Angels We Have Heard on High by David Crowder Band
21. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald
22. Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Norah Jones and Willie Nelson
23. Little Saint Nick by She & Him
24. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by James Taylor
25. Jingle Bells by Diana Krall and The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Reflective holiday playlist
For when you want to cry a little from the sheer beauty of the season.
1. Once in Royal David’s City by Sufjan Stevens
2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Sarah McLachlan
3. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
4. O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Sufjan Stevens
5. The Christmas Waltz by She & Him
6. Go Tell It On the Mountain by Bebo Norman
7. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/O Come All Ye Faithful by Clay Aiken
8. The Friendly Beasts by Sufjan Stevens
9. Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson
10. O Come All Ye Faithful by Lisbeth Scott
11. Happy Xmas (War is Over) by Sarah McLachlan
12. Ave Maria by Harry Connick, Jr.
13. Silent Night/Away In a Manger/O Holy Night by Steven Curtis Chapman
14. What Child is This? (Greensleeves) by Sarah McLachlan
15. Adeste Fideles by Luciano Pavarotti, Tricia Yearwood, and Marco Boemi
16. Sister Winter by Sufjan Stevens
17. Peace by Norah Jones
18. The First Noel/Mary Mary by Sarah McLachlan
19. Angels We Have Heard on High by Sufjan Stevens
20. O Holy Night by Josh Groban (unfortunately, I can’t find this on sale as an mp3 anywhere)
21. Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song) by Sara Groves
22. Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth by Bing Crosby and David Bowie
23. A Mighty Fortress/Angels We Have Heard on High by Amy Grant
24. Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming by Sufjan Stevens
25. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) by James Taylor
26. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? by Harry Connick, Jr.
27. Holy, Holy, Holy by Sufjan Stevens
28. Come and Worship by Bebo Norman
Instrumental holiday playlist
For when you just want a little background music.
1. O’Carolan’s/Welcome Christmas by Alison Brown Quartet with Joe Craven
2. Noel Nouvelet by Maggie Fitzsimmons and Claire Hamilton
3. Carol of the Birds by Mark Hanson
4. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
5. Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi Trio
6. The Holly and The Ivy by Mary Beth Carlson
7. Angels We Have Heard on High by The Irish Christmas and Celtic Christmas Nollag
8. Still, Still, Still by The Columba Minstrels
9. Happy Christmas (War is Over) by Guitar Shop
10. Once in Royal David’s City by Instrumental Christmas
11. March by San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
12. Wassail Wassail All Over the Town by The London Fox Players
13. O Tannenbaum by Vince Guaraldi Trio
14. Joy To The World by Darren Curtis Skanson
15. Emmanuel guitar solo by Christmas Classics
16. Gesu Bambino by Instrumental Christmas
17. Trepak by San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
18. Ding! Dong! Merrily on High by The Columba Minstrels
19. Away in a Manger by The Irish Christmas and Celtic Christmas Nollag
20. We Three Kings by Harry Connick, Jr.
21. Nutcracker Suite: Overture by New England Jazz Ensemble
22. Silent Night by Chris Rice
23. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by The Irish Christmas and Celtic Christmas Nollag
24. Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy) by Duke Ellington
25. Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming by Piano Music for Christmas
26. O Holy Night by Chris Rice
27. Oh Happy Day by Guitar Shop
28. God Rest You Merry Gentlemen by Dan Baraszu and Joseph Patrick Moore
29. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Chris Rice
30. What Child is This? (Greensleeves) by Tony Elman
31. Carol of the Bells by George Winston
Phew… I don’t think I’ve ever typed Harry Connick, Jr. and Sufjan Stevens so frequently in one day. But hopefully this will get you through the season.
What’s your all-time favorite Christmas song?
This was originally published on November 29, 2012.