Your halls may be decked and the tree trimmed, but the important part of getting in the holiday spirit comes down to the music. Curating the perfect Christmas playlist is no easy feat — you have to sort through countless jingles and carols, country spins on classics, jazzy jaunts and pop-culture hits. Once you’ve found your favorites, it’s a matter of calculating the mood you want to set, because there’s nothing like an ill-timed “O, Holy Night” to really bring a party down. 

Part of the fun in assembling a Christmas playlist is going through all of your personal favorites yourself to cull the perfect tunes, but this can be a daunting task. So, we thought it’d be helpful to list some of the most popular Christmas songs or artists loosely by genre — in case you needed some inspiration to get started.

Pop Christmas Hits

    • Mariah Carey – She isn’t called The Queen of Christmas for nothing, after all. This diva is absolutely obsessed with Christmas, and has released two holiday albums over the years showcasing her passion. No Christmas playlist would be complete without at least one sing-along rendition of All I Want For Christmas Is You, but her versions of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town aren’t too shabby, either.
    • “A Very Special Christmas” Compilation Albums – These compilations are a family favorite, because they’re a rowdy mix of classic rockers, early rap stars and familiar big names covering all the most popular holiday hits. The sales proceeds benefit the Special Olympics, and the series has raised over $100 million since the release of the first album in 1987. The first — and arguably the best — edition features Madonna’s memorable “Santa Baby,” a fun ditty by Run-DMC called “Christmas in Hollis,” and “Merry Christmas Baby” by none other than The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen (and the E Street Rockers, of course).
    • John Lennon – “Imagine,” “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”
    • Chuck Berry  – “Run Rudolph Run”
    • Elmo & Patsy – “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”
    • Harry Connick Jr – “Let it Snow!” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
    • Wham – “Last Christmas”
    • Ariana Grande – “Santa Tell Me”
    • Gwen Stefani –  “You Make it Feel Like Christmas”
    • Sia – “Candy Cane Lane,” “Snowman”
    • Ed Sheeran & Elton John – “Merry Christmas”
    • Cher – “DJ Play a Christmas Song”
    • Taylor Swift – “Christmas Tree Farm”
    • Carrie Underwood – “O Come All Ye Faithful”
    • Katy Perry – “Cozy Little Christmas”
    • Josh Groban – “Believe” from The Polar Express
    • Spice Girls – “Christmas Wrapping”
    • Elton John – “Step Into Christmas”
    • The Eagles – “Please Come Home for Christmas”
    • The Carpenters – “Merry Christmas Darling”
    • Kelly Clarkson – “Underneath the Tree”
    • NSYNC – “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”
    • Britney Spears – “My Only Wish [This Year]”
    • John Legend – “You Deserve It All”

Classics Christmas Hits

    • Bing Crosby – It’s just not Christmas until you’ve listened to a little Bing Crosby. His Merry Christmas album, first released in 1945, is one of the most listened-to Christmas albums of all time. We’re probably preaching to the choir here, but the best songs from this record include “Mele Kalikimaka,” “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.”
    • Frank Sinatra – Old Blue Eyes is another artist whose music is practically required listening over the holidays. His album Christmas Songs, which includes “Let it Snow!,” “Adeste Fideles” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” is a must-add to any playlist.
    • Nat King Cole – “The Christmas Song,” “Deck the Halls,” “O Come All Ye Faithful”
    • Brenda Lee – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
    • Thurl Ravenscroft –  “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”
    • Elvis Presley – “Blue Christmas”
    • Frank Loesser –  “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
    • Perry Como –  “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”
    • Michael Bublé – Christmas album,  “Winter Wonderland”
    • Bobby Helms – “Jingle Bell Rock”
    • Gene Autry feat. The Pinafores – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Here Comes Santa Claus”
    • Andy Williams – “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
    • The Ronettes –  “Sleigh Ride”
    • Burl Ives – “A Holly Jolly Christmas”
    • Eartha Kitt – “Santa Baby”
    • José Feliciano – “Felíz Navidad”
    • Dean Martin –  “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
    • Julie Andrews – “My Favorite Things”
    • Alvin and the Chipmunks – “Christmas Don’t Be Late”

Jazzy Christmas Numbers

    • Jazz to the World A compilation produced by the same people who made Very Special Christmas albums, but, you know, jazzy. 
    • Diana Krall – Christmas Songs is a reliable, low-key holiday album.
    • June Christy – Her song “The Merriest” is a bop.
    • Louis Armstrong & Friends – What a Wonderful Christmas album; Christmas in New Orleans album
    • Ella Fitzgerald –  “Frosty the Snowman”

Under-appreciated Holiday Songs and Artists

    • Joni Mitchell – “River”
    • Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Their It’s a Holiday Soul Party album should be played at every holiday party. Ever.
    • Pentatonix – This a cappella group’s version of “Silent Night” is wonderful, as is the rest of their Christmas repertoire.
    • Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward – A Very She and Him Christmas is a Christmas album with staples like “Silver Bells” and reimagined editions of others, like “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
    • Jimmy Buffet – Want an island version of Christmas? Jimmy’s got you covered.
    • Willie Nelson – “Pretty Paper”
    • Julie London – “I’d Like You For Christmas”

Instrumental Christmas Options

    • Mannheim Steamroller – Their new-age/synth/funk/instrumental style is iconic, and a must-listen during the holiday season.
    • Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Their Christmas album is like the Jock Jams of the holiday season. Play their music only if you want to be amped up about everything. Their version of “Carol of The Bells” remains undefeated.
    • Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas is a quaint, upbeat album for when you need light background music.

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