The 75 Best Christmas Songs Of All Time to Add to your Holiday Music Playlist

From classic Christmas songs to festive instrumentals, here are the top tunes to play over the holidays.
Mariah Carey on float
Photo: a katz / Shutterstock
Brittany Barber
by Brittany Barber
Updated Oct 06, 2023

'Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to spread the holiday cheer than with a curated collection of the best Christmas songs of all time? Whether you're decking the halls, trimming your Christmas tree or sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace, the best Christmas songs have the power to transport us to a winter wonderland filled with comfort and joy—whatever the weather may be.

In this article, our editors have unwrapped the ultimate Christmas music playlist, featuring a diverse selection of holiday music that will surely make your spirits bright. From timeless classics to Christmas songs from your favorite holiday movies, this playlist is designed to be a source of merriment as you navigate the festive season. So, get ready to sing along, reminisce, and create new memories together while you listen to these 75 Christmas songs. It is the most wonderful time of the year, after all.

In this article:

The Knot's Top Christmas Songs for 2023

White Christmas Cover
Photo: Amazon

From Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" to G. F. Handel's famous Messiah chorus, here are just some of the best Christmas songs of all time to play during the holidays.

"Santa Baby," Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt's rendition of this festive tune evokes the spirit of Christmas with a touch of glamor. It remains a gem in the holiday music repertoire since it was first released in 1953.

"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

This enchanting composition from Tchaikovsky's iconic ballet, The Nutcracker, is characterized by its delicate, twinkling notes played on the celesta. It captures the whimsical allure of the Sugar Plum Fairy's magical realm and is a staple when it comes to instrumental Christmas music.

"White Christmas," Bing Crosby

"White Christmas," is a timeless holiday classic that has been melting hearts and conjuring up nostalgia for generations with its velvety vocals and dreamy lyrics.

"Boogie Woogie Santa Claus," Mabel Scott

This catchy Christmas song combines the festive joy of the holiday season with the lively energy of boogie-woogie music, making it a toe-tapping tune that delights listeners year after year.

"Hallelujah Chorus," George Frideric Handel

Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" is probably the most recognizable piece of music from his renowned oratorio, Messiah. Known for its majestic and triumphant sound, it's typically performed by a full orchestra and choir.

"Candy Cane Children," The White Stripes

For Christmas rock songs outside the realm of usual holiday music, The White Stripes "Candy Cane Children," won't disappoint.

"Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!," Dean Martin

If you're looking for the best Christmas songs, you won't want to skip this one. Performed by the legendary Dean Martin, this classic Christmas song is known for its upbeat and cheerful melody that captures the joy and coziness of the holiday season.

"Winter Wonderland," Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong's "Winter Wonderland" takes listeners on a charming musical journey through a snow-covered landscape, with Armstrong's distinctive gravelly voice infusing the song with warmth and nostalgia.

"Hard Candy Christmas," Dolly Parton

This emotional country ballad by the legendary Dolly Parton captures the Yuletide essence of resilience and hope. Yes, it's a tearjerker — but it's so, so good.

"Please Come Home for Christmas," Charles Brown

Released in 1960, this song beautifully captures the longing and nostalgia that many feel during the holiday season, making it a favorite for those missing loved ones over Christmas.

Michael Bublé - It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas - Cover
Photo: Youtube

If you're looking for popular Christmas songs to add to your Christmas music playlist, look no further than these spirited tracks.

"Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms

Although plenty of awesome artists have covered "Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms' rendition of the song gave it its rockabilly charm that we all know and love today.

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," Michael Bublé

Michael Bublé's cover of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" is a modern classic that belongs on every Christmas playlist — whether you're a Bublé fan or not.

"Last Christmas," Wham!

This perennial holiday favorite is known for its catchy melody and heartfelt lyrics, weaving a tale of lost love during the holiday season.

"Wonderful Christmastime," Paul McCartney

Released in 1979, this beloved Christmas song was written and performed by Paul McCartney. Its catchy melody and cheerful lyrics have made it a favorite on Christmas playlists around the world, making spirits bright with every note.

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," Bruce Springsteen

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" as performed by Bruce Springsteen is a high-energy rendition of the classic Christmas song, known for its rock 'n' roll flair and Springsteen's signature raspy vocals.

"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)," Nat King Cole

Famously performed by the velvety-voiced Nat King Cole, here's an iconic holiday classic that instantly conjures images of cozy gatherings and crackling fires.

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee

When it comes to the best Christmas songs, this popular holiday classic continues to fill homes with its infectious energy and festive spirit — making it a must-have on any Christmas music playlist.

"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," John Lennon and Yoko Ono

This popular Christmas song combines holiday cheer with a powerful message of peace and hope — one that still resonates today.

Classic Christmas Songs

Blue Christmas Cover
Photo: Amazon

When it comes to classic Christmas songs to add to your Christmas songs list, here are our top picks.

"Blue Christmas," Elvis Presley

This classic Christmas song is known for its melancholic yet soulful vibe, adding a touch of nostalgia to the festive season with Elvis's iconic voice.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Gene Autry

Made famous by the iconic country singer, Gene Autry, this cheerful Christmas song became an instant holiday classic when it was recorded back in 1949.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Judy Garland

Famously sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis, this emotive rendition of the song has touched the hearts of generations with its warm and nostalgic portrayal of the holiday season.

"Silver Bells," Bing Crosby and Carol Richards

"Silver Bells," a beloved Christmas classic, was beautifully performed as a duet by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards, enchanting audiences with their harmonious voices and capturing the essence of holiday joy with every note.

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," Andy Williams

With its infectious melody, jubilant lyrics, and Andy Williams' timeless vocal delivery, this song is a cherished holiday classic that belongs on every Christmas music playlist.

"Little Drummer Boy," Harry Simeone Chorale

"Little Drummer Boy" has secured its place as a classic Christmas song thanks to its simple yet heartfelt message of bringing the gift of music and love to the newborn Jesus, resonating with the Yuletide themes of humility and the spirit of giving.

"Carol Of The Bells," David Foster

"Carol Of The Bells" by David Foster is the perfect addition to your Christmas music playlist, infusing a modern feel into this holiday classic with its fabulous orchestration and masterful production.

"Frosty the Snowman," Gene Autry

If you're looking for nostalgic Christmas music, look no further than Gene Autry's "Frosty the Snowman." This adorable Christmas song tells the whimsical tale of the famous snowman, who was brought to life by a magical hat.

Instrumental Christmas Music

"O Holy Night," Mannheim Steamroller cover
Photo: Amazon

From orchestral renditions of classic carols to full-fledged concertos, here's some instrumental Christmas music that captures the spirit of the holidays.

"Sleigh Ride," Leroy Anderson

With its cheerful melody, playful rhythms and signature horse clopping sounds, this holiday song is a cherished part of the Christmas music canon.

"O Holy Night," Mannheim Steamroller

Mannheim Steamroller's rendition of this Christmas hymn combines modern electronic elements with classical instruments, creating a harmonious blend of traditional and contemporary sounds.

"O Tannenbaum," Vince Guaraldi Trio

The Vince Guaraldi Trio gave this classic Christmas song a jazzy twist you'll love. If you were a fan of A Charlie Brown Christmas, you'll probably recognize this version of the song.

"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," Béla Fleck and the Flecktones

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, a Grammy-winning progressive bluegrass band, brought their own musical style to this traditional carol, infusing it with their signature virtuosity and improvisational flair.

"The Nutcracker Suite," Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

For the best Christmas songs to play as festive background music, check out all of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite" from the 1892 ballet, The Nutcracker.

"White Christmas," Oscar Peterson

Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson left his mark on this classic Christmas song with his soulful and improvisational interpretation that adds a jazz flair to this track.

"We Three Kings," The Ventures

The Ventures, an instrumental rock band, gave this Christmas carol a unique twist with their signature surf rock style, giving it their distinctive guitar-driven sound.

"Christmas Concerto (Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8)," Arcangelo Corelli

Composed by Italian baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli, this 14-minute concerto is the perfect instrumental Christmas music to play during an elegant holiday dinner.

Country Christmas Songs

"Pretty Paper," Willie Nelson, Cover
Photo: Amazon

Blending the twang of country music with the warmth and nostalgia of Christmas, here are some country Christmas songs to play over the holidays.

"Christmas in Dixie," Alabama

With its lyrics celebrating the festive season in the American South, this country Christmas song captures the charm of Christmastime in the southern United States.

"Pretty Paper," Willie Nelson

Released in 1963, Willie Nelson's "Pretty Paper" tells the story of a street vendor selling colorful paper and toys while battling personal challenges during the holiday season.

"Christmas Cookies," George Strait

In this catchy and upbeat tune, George Strait sings about the joy of baking and sharing Christmas cookies as a way to celebrate the season.

"Tennessee Christmas," Amy Grant

"Tennessee Christmas" is a heartwarming holiday song by Amy Grant, known for its evocative lyrics that capture the essence of a cozy and nostalgic Christmas in Tennessee.

"Christmas Time's A-Coming," Bill Monroe

This bluegrass country Christmas song captures the excitement and anticipation of the holiday season, with its lively tempo and lyrics that reminds us of the joy of Christmas preparations.

"Christmas Like Mama Used to Make," Tracy Byrd

With its heartfelt lyrics and Tracy Byrd's soulful delivery, this Christmas song evokes a sense of longing for the simple joys and cherished memories of Christmases past.

"If We Make It Through December," Merle Haggard

This Christmas country ballad by Merle Haggard tells the story of a family down on their luck during the holiday season, capturing a sense of melancholy and hope for the future that resonates with many.

"Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy," Buck Owens

Released in 1965, the song humorously depicts a child's confusion when Santa Claus bears a striking resemblance to their father.

R&B Christmas Songs

John Legend cover
Photo: Amazon

If R&B Christmas songs are your go-to over the holidays, here are a few to add to your playlist this year.

"This Christmas," Donny Hathaway

Donny Hathaway's soulful voice and heartfelt delivery have ensured that "This Christmas" remains a cherished holiday anthem, filling homes with a festive spirit year after year.

"Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!," Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men, the iconic R&B group known for their harmonious vocals, added their soulful touch to this popular holiday song, injecting it with their signature style.

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," Jackson 5

With their unique spin on this Christmas classic, the Jackson 5 created a version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" that continues to bring joy and holiday spirit to listeners of all ages.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross's smooth voice brings a renewed sense of warmth and nostalgia to this Christmas song, making it a must-listen during the festive season.

"Christmas Time Is Here," Anita Baker

Anita Baker, a soulful R&B and jazz singer, lends her velvety voice to create a heartwarming rendition of this song that infuses the song with her signature style.

"Please Come Home for Christmas," Charles Brown

This Charles Brown Christmas song beautifully captures the bittersweet emotions of longing and hope during the Christmas season, making it a great addition to your R&B holiday playlist.

"Silent Night," The Temptations

The Temptations' version of "Silent Night" beautifully combines their signature vocal prowess with the traditional charm of the song, adding a little Motown magic to the Christmas season.

"My Favorite Things," John Legend

"My Favorite Things" is a classic holiday song most people recognize thanks to Julie Andrews' performance in The Sound of Music. However, John Legend, with his soulful rendition, brings a contemporary twist to this timeless tune.

Christmas Rock Songs

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," Bruce Springsteen
Photo: Amazon

With catchy guitar riffs and upbeat rhythms, here are some Christmas rock songs that are perfect for lively holiday gatherings.

"Run Rudolph Run," Chuck Berry

Released in 1958, Chuck Berry's energetic version of this holiday song has become a staple on Christmas playlists, capturing the excitement and rush of the holiday season.

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen's rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" is a spirited and iconic performance that infuses rock and roll energy into this well-known Christmas song. His live version, often performed with the E Street Band, is particularly memorable!

"Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)," Ramones

Released in 1989, this Christmas rock song stands out as an unconventional yet endearing addition to the Christmas music repertoire, blending the Ramones' signature style with the holiday spirit.

"The Christmas Song," The Raveonettes

With its dreamy, atmospheric sound and haunting vocals, The Raveonettes put a unique and somewhat melancholic spin on this traditional favorite, capturing the bittersweet essence of the holiday season.

"Christmas at the Zoo," The Flaming Lips

This song's fun lyrics and unique sound blend seamlessly with The Flaming Lips' avant-garde style, making it a delightful addition to alternative holiday music playlists.

"Father Christmas," The Kinks

"Father Christmas" by The Kinks is a rock song that offers a unique twist on the traditional holiday narrative. Released in 1977, it tells the story of a department store Santa Claus who gets confronted by a group of kids demanding money instead of toys.

"Christmas All Over Again," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

"Christmas All Over Again" is a spirited holiday song by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, known for its catchy melody and upbeat lyrics that capture the excitement of the holiday season.

"Fairytale of New York," The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl

Released in 1987, this Christmas song has become a perennial favorite, known for its poignant lyrics and blend of Irish folk and rock influences — making it a standout in the realm of holiday music.

"I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday," Wizzard

With its upbeat sound and sing-along chorus, this British glam rock Christmas song has secured its place in the pantheon of Christmas music, ensuring that the joy of the season is celebrated whenever it's played.

Christmas Karaoke Songs

"All I Want for Christmas Is You," Mariah Carey, cover
Photo: Amazon

Whether you're a seasoned crooner or just looking for some festive fun, here are the best Christmas karaoke songs that'll provide the perfect soundtrack for celebrating the most wonderful time of the year.

"All I Want for Christmas Is You," Mariah Carey

Belting out this Christmas song with friends and family will bring a sense of togetherness and joy this holiday season — especially if you can actually hit those iconic high notes.

"Feliz Navidad," Jose Feliciano

Jose Feliciano's famous bilingual holiday song, with its catchy melody and cheerful lyrics, will bring a festive atmosphere to any gathering.

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," John Legend

With its playful lyrics and catchy tune, this Christmas karaoke song is sure to bring a little merriment to your next holiday gathering.

"Wonderful Christmastime," Paul McCartney

As you belt out the chorus of this famous holiday tune, you're sure to feel the infectious festive spirit fill the room, making it a perfect choice for a fun and upbeat karaoke performance.

"What Christmas Means to Me," Stevie Wonder

With its upbeat tempo and heartfelt lyrics, this Christmas song brings people together and adds a touch of groove to any holiday karaoke party.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside," Dinah Shore & Buddy Clark

If you're looking for a Christmas karaoke duet song, look no further than Dinah Shore & Buddy Clark's "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

"Little Saint Nick," The Beach Boys

The beachy vibe makes"Little Saint Nick" by The Beach Boys a delightful Christmas karaoke song that's sure to stand out this holiday season.

"White Christmas," Michael Bublé ft. Shania Twain

This version of "White Christmas" by Michael Bublé ft. Shania Twain is the perfect Christmas karaoke song to perform if you plan on making your karaoke debut with a partner.

Christmas Movie Songs

"A Holly Jolly Christmas," Burl Ives, Cover
Photo: Spotify

Whether it's a heartwarming ballad or an upbeat jingle, here are the best festive songs from your favorite Christmas movies.

"Where Are You Christmas?," Faith Hill — How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Fans of the 2000 Jim Carrey film, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, will instantly recognize this emotional ballad from the movie.

"A Holly Jolly Christmas," Burl Ives — Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

If you loved the 1964 stop-motion Christmas special, you'll definitely want to add Burl Ives' nostalgic "A Holly Jolly Christmas" to your Christmas songs list.

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee — Home Alone

Featured in the iconic holiday film, Home Alone, this catchy tune adds an extra layer of cheer to the movie's memorable Christmas scenes, making it a cherished part of the holiday soundtrack for generations.

"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," Thurl Ravenscroft — How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Famously sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, whose deep and distinctive voice perfectly captures the Grinch's mischievous character, this Christmas song is a must-have on every Christmas music playlist.

"Step Into Christmas," Elton John — Love Actually

Featured in the beloved Christmas movie Love Actually, the song adds a dose of holiday spirit to the film's heartwarming storyline, making it a memorable part of the movie's soundtrack.

"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Darlene Love — Gremlins

This Christmas song was made even more popular when it was featured in Gremlins, where the song provides a stark contrast to the chaos caused by the mischievous gremlins during Christmas festivities in the film.

"Believe," Josh Groban — The Polar Express

Josh Groban's rendition of "Believe" has become a modern classic, resonating with audiences of all ages and reminding us of the enduring magic of The Polar Express.

"Christmas Don't Be Late," The Chipmunks — The Chipmunks

This Christmas song, first released in 1958, became an instant hit — and the mischievous antics of these animated chipmunks have since become a cherished part of many people's holiday traditions.

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