Have Yourself a Merry Little Playlist

And I am firmly of the belief that the best way to enter such a state of mind is by listening to Christmas music every chance you get. And as a gift to your this holiday season, I have painstakingly sifted through hundreds of recordings to find the very best of them all.

I had to make a lot of hard decisions to compile this list. If I left in the runners up, it would be approximately 75 items long. There are so many great recordings of original songs and the classics, countless lovely renditions really. But without further ado, here are my 15 (this started as a list of 10 but I just could not help myself...) picks this Christmas.

15 Best Christmas Songs & Favorite Renditions

"All I Want for Christmas is You" — Mariah Carey
Yes, you're tired of hearing it by December 1. Yes, Mariah should not be allowed to perform this at tree lighting ceremonies anymore. Yes, this song is the biggest earworm in the world. But tell me it doesn't put you in the Christmas spirit, I dare you. Just once a year, this tune has to get a spin.

"Baby it's Cold Outside" — Darren Criss & Chris Colfer (Glee Cast)
By today's standards, sure, the lyrics to this song are absolutely creeptacular. My favorite is the line about homegirl getting pneumonia and dying. HOW CHRISTMASSY. But this adorable duo's performance on the Glee season two Christmas episode is just so sweet, and even though Colfer's vocals mostly annoy me, they work well when paired with Darren Criss' boyish, impish delivery of his lines.

"Happy Christmas (War is Over)" — Celine Dion
When I was a kid, I was a HUGE Celine Dion fan. Hearing this song sung in her beautiful voice is kind of an other-wordly experience. It's at once nostalgic (for me) and transcendent, the latter I credit entirely to her almost haunting and lovely voice. Other renditions of this song are nice, but none give me goosebumps like this one.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" — She & Him
This is another tune that's got more renditions out there than I can count, but there's something just right about Zooey Deschanel's voice that's kind of solemn but also pretty enough to carry this song and make me feel all the feels.

"Merry Christmas Baby" — Colbie Caillat, Brad Paisley 
It's rare that a Christmas song has such an upbeat and playful tune. I'm not a huuuuuge fan of Brad's (I'm kind of not over the whole "Accidental Racist" idiocy, to be honest) but I adore Colbie and her voice is so breezy and fun and pretty. They go well together for this ditty.

"Last Christmas" — Wham!
I confess, I do very much love Lea Michele's rendition from Glee when Rachel is creepily trying to create a Christmas courtship with Finn (RIP Cory), but I gotta hand this one to the original songbirds. Holy '80s. And don't even come near me with Ariana Grande's recording.

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" — Harry Connick, Jr. 
Is anyone actually with their significant other around Christmas? The songbook would suggest not. But I'd listen to Harry Connick Jr. sing about tax collection, so his rendition of this Christmas classic works for me.

"O Holy Night" — Lea Michele (Glee Cast) 
I just dare you to listen to this and not get goosebumps and/or want to cry.

"Merry Christmas Darling" — Christina Perri 
My coworker lobbies hard for the Carpenter's rendition, and I must admit it is strong. But there's a quality to Christina's voice that's just a little bit sad and sweet that makes it perfect for these slightly sad and sweet lyrics.

"White Christmas" — Michael BublĂ© & Shania Twain
Do doot do doo, doot doot, doot doo doot. #nailedit. It's just fun. Christmas is fun. Snow should be fun. (It only is when you don't have to drive in it OR when you have 4WD.) A song about snow on Christmas should be fun, and this recording is. Plus I heart Bubble. PLUS this makes me think of The Santa Clause and the Denny's scene rocks.

"Winter Wonderland" — Harry Connick, Jr. 
WITH HIS DAUGHTER!? I mean, come on. Harry Connick Jr. might as well be Father Christmas himself to me. And you can just hear the two of them smiling through this track.

"Santa Baby" — Colbie Caillat 
Colbie's is literally the only female version of this song I've ever heard that doesn't creepily fetishize a fictitious character made to bring joy to children OR sexualize the little girl/old dude dynamic for the mainstream (I'm lookin' RIGHT at you, Madonna), so four for you Colbie, you go Colbie.

"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" — Michael BublĂ© 
As much as I am dismayed by all the apparent long-distance lovers-themed songs that make up the Christmas music genre, Bubble makes this one tolerable and in fact quite peppy and lovely.

"Wrapped in Red" — Kelly Clarkson 
If you don't have this Christmas album on repeat, you're making a huge mistake. Kelly's got some classic holiday tunes and some fun original songs and she shows off her vocal chops in all of them. I love this song.

"Carol of the Bells" — Mannheim Steamroller
I debated really hard on whether I wanted to give this one to Mannheim Steamroller or Trans Siberian Orchestra. Both are unbelievable. Both are Christmas in musical form. I do very much love them both, and even give a slight edge to the TSO version for showmanship. But my mom used to listen to Mannheim Steamroller at Christmastime when I was a kid, and I see this album cover whenever I hear "Carol of the Bells." So to Mannheim the win goes. (Second runner up is obviously Pentatonix.)

Now believe me, I'm only stopping at 15 because I feel like that's already excessive enough. But my actual Christmas playlist has a few hundred songs. What are your favorites?

+ Linking up with Amanda for a holiday-themed Friday Favorites!


  1. I love anything Colbie Calliat sings so I'm going to go listen to her rendition...also pretty much anything Michael Buble sings is amazing...same goes for Harry Connick Jr. - Great picks girl...I have a lot of listening to do!! xo, Biana - BlovedBoston

  2. Great picks!! I especially second the Buble pick, since his Christmas album is on constant repeat in my car and house! I also love that Kelly Clarkson song, but still need to check out the rest of her album. Happy Friday!

    xoxo, - M @ The Sequin Notebook

  3. Oh I so agree about Zooey Deschanel's voice! So fabulous. One of my favourite Christmas songs is by Hanson. It reminds me of being a kid, I remember getting their Christmas CD for Christmas one year and I think I listened to it until July. Zero shame.
    Also, have you seen New In Town? It's lame, but hey Harry Connick Jr.

  4. Give me all the Christmas music!!! It is my favorite :)

    Have a great weekend!

  5. I absolutely love this list!! I think I need to add all of these to my spotify and just hit repeat ;) Have a great weekend!

  6. You choose some good ones. Mariah Carey (in past years) has been my favourite album to listen to! I wish I had some Christmas cheer this year, This music would give me the happies. Great post girlie!

  7. So excited to check out some of these! I've never listened to any of Colbie Cailliat's Christmas music, but I love other songs she does!

  8. And don't forget about all the Alvin and thechimpmunk Christmas songs! Those are classics!

  9. I don't really listen to Christmas music (WHAT! can we still be friends?!), but when I do, I only listen to the ones by my favorite indie/punk/whatever you call the music I listen to (it's been like 10+ years and I still don't know the correct terminology) bands because I am a hipster like that. But even though I don't really enjoy Christmas songs, I DID enjoy your assessment of these ;)


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