Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Holiday Songs, plus 5 more

My husband and I got into a little debate over this week’s Ten on Tuesday topic, “10 Favorite Holiday Songs.

HIM: “You know they mean Christmas songs. Who even knows ten songs for Hanukkah?”

ME: “Well, there are the popular, secular songs that some people don’t really consider to be about Christmas – they’re about Santa Claus, or winter…and then there are the traditional church songs and carols about Jesus’ birth. They’re two very different things, so I think ‘holiday’ songs is right.” (And maybe if we’d grown up Jewish, we might know ten Hanukkah songs. Anyone who knows ten Hanukkah songs is free to leave a list in the comments!)

My list of “favorite holiday songs” is comprised of the popular/secular variety, and in some cases the favorite is one particular version of the song – when you’re talking about the secular holiday music, sometimes it’s a specific performance that comes to define the song. But first, I have a bonus list of five favorite Christmas carols – the kind you might hear in church, but not on the radio:

“Angels We Have Heard on High” (my favorite carol to sing in church – “Gloooooooooria in excelsis De-o…”)
“O Come All Ye Faithful/Adeste Fidelis”
“For Unto Us a Child is Born,” from Handel’s Messiah
“O Holy Night” (in my opinion, possibly the hardest Christmas carol to sing – well)
“Carol of the Bells”

My favorite holiday songs include a few goofy novelty numbers – it’s just part of the fun, and it’s also an excuse to include “Weird Al” Yankovic. In the spirit of holiday kindness and charity, I ask you not to judge me. In no particular order (all links are to the iTunes Store):

White Christmas,” by Bing Crosby (living in the place that inspired the song, it’s especially meaningful now)
Silver Bells,” Bing Crosby and Carole Richards
Holly Jolly Christmas,” by Burl Ives
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” by Darlene Love
Happy Xmas (War is Over),” by John Lennon
Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2000 Miles,” by the Pretenders
All I Want for Christmas is You,” by Mariah Carey
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” by Thurl Ravenscroft (thanks to Karen Funk Blocher for the heads-up to attribute this one correctly!)
Christmas at Ground Zero,” by “Weird Al” Yankovic (that’s “ground zero” in the pre-9/11, nuclear-paranoia sense)
The Twelve Days of Christmas,” by Bob and Doug McKenzie (I posted the words to this version last year)

At first it was hard for me to come up with ten songs – and then it became hard to stop at ten, but I will. I’d love to know a few of your favorite holiday songs, too – that’s what the comments are for, y’all!

**** Have you entered any of my FOUR giveaways yet? Find out more here! They’re open until Friday (December 12), and you may enter any or all.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,318 other subscribers


  1. 2000 Miles is my absolute favorite non-traditional holiday song. My husband and I dance to it every year on Christmas (or the day after….or 4 days later…whenever things settle down enough for us to remember).

    For traditional Christmas carols I love the really old ones. O Come, O Come Emmanuel sounds like a medieval chant if you do it right. And there are a whole bunch of renaissance ones many people have never heard of that I listen to every year.

    There are Jewish holiday songs I love, but none of them are about Hannukah.

  2. I love love LOVE “Baby Its Cold Outside” esp. the version from the Elf Soundtrack. Actually that whole soundtrack is excellent. I am an x-mas music freak right now! Oh and BNL does some pretty cool Hanukkah songs! And holiday sings and xmas songs. A great CD all around.

  3. Along with many that you mentioned, I really like "Santa Baby" (not the Madonna version) & any orchestral rendition of "Sleigh Ride". I love the clip-clop of the horses and the whinnying at the end.

  4. Ali – I love the dancing to “2000 Miles.” My husband and I are both big Pretenders fans, but I can’t get him to dance to anything.

    I’d forgotten “O Come O Come Emmanuel” – partly because I think of it as an Advent song more than Christmas, and then there’s the don’t-go-to-church-any-more thing. You’re right about it having that chant aspect, though, especially if it’s done a capella.

    Caroline – I consider myself a pretty big BNL fan, and I’ve heard good things about their holiday album, but I’ve never listened to it. I probably should remedy that soon, shouldn’t I :-)?

    Elena – I like “Sleigh Ride” as an instrumental too. Not such a fan of “Santa Baby,” I’m afraid, but the Eartha Kitt version is much better than Madonna’s.

  5. Look for The Blenders (google them, they’re awesome) and try out their holiday CDs. Their performances of “Do you hear what I hear” and “One small child” will give you chills — in the best possible way!

  6. Oh, drat, my long detailed comment got eaten when I hit Preview.

    Okay, short version: the Grinch song was sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, the distinctive bass voice of many a Disney song or theme park ride, vintage tv jingle and Tony the Tiger. He died not in 2005 of cancer. I’ve written about him a number of times, but here’s my main tribute:


    On Christmas carols, my faves are basically what’s on my beloved “green record” I mentioned last week, especially Carol of the Bells and O Come O Come Emmanuel. My next batch of faves are sung by the likes of Bing, Frank, Nat and Alvin, Simon and Theodore. Oh, and Gene Autry. My rock Christmas faves tend to be vintage – Chuck Berry, Brenda Lee, etc.

    Here’s hoping Comment 2.0 posts!

  7. Daisy – I checked out The Blenders’ website, and I am intrigued. I’ll go back to sample their music and/or look for it on iTunes. Thanks for the heads-up!

    KFB – I’ll edit this post to correctly attribute “Mr. Grinch” – thanks! And you should check out Tall Paul’s post for this Ten on Tuesday – you have some favorites in common :-).

  8. I’ve never heard the Weird Al song! I need to check it out. I somehow forgot shot Bob and Doug’s 12Days if Christmas. I think I need to download it. 🙂

    For fun, check out Gary Hoey’s version of The Grinch song. It’s on iTunes. It’s all guitar and it’s fun; if you like that sort of thing. Good list.

  9. Mike – Both songs you mentioned were on a Dr. Demento Christmas CD I bought years ago. I am shocked you’ve never heard “Christmas at Ground Zero”! As for the McKenzies – good day, and Merry Christmas.

    I’ll have to look for that version of “…Mr. Grinch.”

    Lenore – Thanks for sharing your list. I’ll have to check out some of the versions you have there!

  10. Oh, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a good one-I particularly like Louis Armstrong’s version with Velma Middleton. They sound like they’re having a grand ol’ time!

    I think Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” is my favorite. He manages to exude a feeling of warmth and genuine good will that makes it seem like maybe everything will be right in the world after all.

    “I’ll be Home for Christmas” has got to be one of the saddest Christmas songs, and it sneaks up on you. You’re smiling, nostalgic, happy for the singer. His (or her) family has been told, “You can plan on me.” Hopefully (!) there will be snow and mistletoe and presents on the tree. Ahh, how nice! And then, “I’ll be home for Christmas/If only in my dreams.” Gaaah! You don’t actually get to go home? *sniff* Tissue, please.

  11. I just went over to You-Tube to listen to Christmas at Ground-Zero. What a hoot! I’d never heard of it before, but it’s going on my list.

  12. Dreamybee – I like “The Christmas Song,” and Nat King Cole’s version is the ONLY one as far as I’m concerned, but sometimes it fades into the background for me.

    “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is another one of those melancholy Christmas songs; I like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” better, though. But if you ever wonder why people get depressed during the holidays…well, songs like those may have something to do with it.

  13. My favorite Hannukah song is the Adam Sandler song for sure! As for favorite Christmas songs – I’m already sick of hearing them all on the radio. with the exception of Frosty and Rudolph.

  14. Social Frog – Christmas is about the only time I miss snow :-).

    Vanessa (Chefdruck) – That’s about the only Hanukkah song I know :-). And I have stayed away from the all-Christmas-music radio station, so it hasn’t worn out its welcome with me yet.

  15. You listed two of my favourite songs! All I Want For Christmas and O Come All Ye Faithful! I adore Christmas music, but my husband hates it (all) so the music isn’t played as often as I’d like in this house..

  16. I recently discovered the greatness that is Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey. My friend and I heard it while driving home one afternoon, and we haven’t stopped talking (or laughing) about it since. It’s amazing!

  17. I tend to prefer Christmas carols to the more secular holiday tunes, I admit, but they are all rather catchy. 🙂

    One of the women I work with hates Feliz Navidad with a passion and several of the other women in my office have been torturing her with it every day for the last two weeks. I may come to dislike the song myself if this keeps up much longer. Haha

  18. Literary Feline – That song’s actually on Tall Paul’s favorites list, but I think you could drive anyone crazy with a song by subjecting them to it over and over, even if they like it. I used to to do that to my son with “Hakuna Matata” :-).