25 of the Best Christmas Songs of All Time
Some songs never go out of style. From caroling out in the snow to Jack Frost nipping at your nose, these lyrics have a special spot in all our hearts. To celebrate the season, we rounded up some of the most timeless Christmas tunes that are bound to get you singing along. So grab the eggnog, gather round, and start spreading Christmas cheer for all to hear with the best Christmas songs of all time.
"White Christmas," Bing Crosby
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Judy Garland
Written for Judy Garland's 1944 film, Meet Me in St. Louis, this beloved tune almost didn't make the cut. After developing the initial melody, songwriter Hugh Martin struggled to complete the song. With some help, however, it eventually made its way from the trash pile to the big screen…and we're so glad it did!
"The Christmas Song," Nat King Cole
Legend says "The Christmas Song" was in fact not written during Christmas time at all. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, and folks dressed up like Eskimos were nowhere to be found when songwriters Robert Wells and Mell Torme wrote this now-classic song. Their inspiration? They were simply trying to escape the blistering heat of a summer's day.
"Blue Christmas," Elvis Presley
Even Elvis can take a break from swaying his hips to get in the holiday spirit. If your loved one is far away this season, then this is the song for you.
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee recorded "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" when she was only 13 years old. Decades later another young star—Macaulay Culkin—introduced "Rockin'" to another generation when the song was included in the hit movie Home Alone.
"Winter Wonderland," Dean Martin
"Winter Wonderland" has been covered by an estimated 200 artists, but we love the classic Dean Martin version most. It's reported the song's lyricist Richard Bernhard Smith was inspired to write "Winter Wonderland" after seeing his hometown's park covered in snow.
"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," Andy Williams
If there's one song that wraps up all the signature holiday activities with a big red bow, it's this one. Parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow will surely set your hearts a-glow for the season.
"Feliz Navidad," José Feliciano
Singer and songwriter José Feliciano wrote this chart-topping tune in 1970. Feliciano sings "Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad" meaning "Merry Christmas, a prosperous year and happiness" and then launches into an equally festive verse in English, "I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart."
"This Christmas," Donny Hathaway
Way before The Temptations, Gladys Knight, and Patti LaBelle covered it, musician Donny Hathaway was the first to breathe some soul into "This Christmas." Released in 1970, "This Christmas" wasn't an immediate hit, but has definitely gone on to become a beloved holiday favorite.
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Darlene Love
Christmas is all about tradition, so of course we love that Darlene Love performed this song live on Late Night with David Letterman every year (except one, due to a writer's strike) from 1984 to 2014.
"Santa Baby," Eartha Kitt
Eartha Kitt proves that the kids aren't the only ones making Christmas lists. Convertibles, yachts, diamond rings—Eartha isn't bashful about what she wants to see under the Christmas tree.
"I'll Be Home for Christmas," Bing Crosby
Originally written to honor soldiers stationed overseas during the war, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" paints a picture of weary men longing for some Christmas comfort.
"Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane)," Gene Autry
Gene Autry got the inspiration for this hit song while riding his horse in a 1946 parade (now named the Hollywood Christmas Parade) in Los Angeles. When crowds chanted, "Here comes Santa Claus," Autry knew he had a hit chorus on his hand.
"Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms
Believed to be popularized as a way to signal an oncoming sleigh (which makes little sound when it glides over packed snow), jingle bells are an unequivocal symbol of all things Christmas. You can't go through the season without singing a little "Jingle Bell Rock."
"Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" Frank Sinatra
Ever notice that this famed Christmas song doesn't actually mention Christmas? Written in Hollywood, California during a heat wave, "Let it Snow!" wonderfully captures the one thing all kids hope for during the season—a little bit of snow.
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," The Jackson 5
Singer Jimmy Boyd first recorded this song in 1952 when he was only 13 years old. The version covered by famed pop group The Jackson 5 however is probably the version you'll hear on the radio all season long.
"(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays," Perry Como
If you want to be happy in a million ways, for the holidays you can't beat home sweet home. Perry Como first recorded this popular song in 1954 and it's had us all craving homemade pumpkin pie and Dixie's sunny shore ever since.
"Silent Night," Bing Crosby
It's an undeniable classic for a reason. With roots dating back to 1818, the sweet and somber melody of "Silent Night" signals the season.
"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," Thurl Ravenscroft
Our list wouldn't be complete without Christmas's most grouchy villain. Written by Dr. Seuss himself, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" first appeared in the 1966 cartoon special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft—who was also the voice of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes' Tony the Tiger—provided the vocals for the song.
"Mele Kalikimaka," Bing Crosby
Sometimes palm trees can be just as festive as snow-covered scenery. If you're yearning for a Christmas that's green and bright, then Mele Kalikimaka is the song to play.
"My Favorite Things," Julie Andrews
Just a few years before Julia Andrews starred in Rodger's and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, she sang "My Favorite Things" on a Garry Moore TV holiday special. History says that performance—and the simple fact that the song mentions sleigh bells, snowflakes, and silver-white winters—solidified this cinematic tune as a Christmas favorite.
"Run Run Rudolph," Chuck Berry
It's not quite Christmas unless you're racing to check off that last gift on your list. Chuck Berry recorded this rock 'n' roll tune in 1958 and it's since been covered by several notable artists such as Sheryl Crow, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffet, and Bon Jovi.
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Harry Connick Jr.
Rudolph and his famed red nose first appeared as a children's story in 1939. At first, the idea was rejected because at the time a red nose was associated with having one too many boozy beverages. After Rudolph was illustrated as a bouncy, alert little reindeer, however, the story was accepted and highly marketed. And now we can't imagine a Christmas without Rudolph.
"Sleigh Ride," The Ronettes
This jovial tune was first introduced as a light orchestra standard in 1948. It was the all-girl group, The Ronnettes, however, who gave the traditional song a playful pop twist.
"A Holly Jolly Christmas," Burl Ives
Burl Ives, who is also the voice of Sam the Snowman in the Christmas special of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, debuted this Christmas classic in 1964. Singing of snow, mistletoe, and a cup of good cheer, it's hard not to get into the holiday spirit when "A Holly Jolly Christmas" comes on the radio.