25 Christmas Party Songs for Your Holiday Playlist
Looking for some Christmas music that won't put you to sleep? Here is an excellent mix of songs for a holiday party, with plenty of selections to dance to. Your guests won't feel as if they are in church or sitting around at an old folks home.
Some of these songs are originals, some of them are more traditional and have been covered by artists from different genres, and some of them are classics that have been remade. They range from slow, fast and somewhere in between, so there's a good mix to keep the vibe upbeat, without being too wild. The moods range from cheery to silly, to heartwarming. Not all of the tunes are specifically Christmas (The Chanukah Song), but none of them are boring.
Billboard Rock 'N' Roll Christmas - A Merry Mix
This is one of my favorite Christmas CDs. It's perfect for parties, or if you just need a little cheering up. It has a really nice mix of songs (although Weird Al Yankovic seems out of place in the compilation). My only complaint is that it should be a double CD (or even a box set) to accommodate even more songs; there are many, many more that should be included. Of course, I've added a few of the very best songs from the CD to this list.
1. Christmas is the Time to Say "I Love You" - Billy Squier
If you have fond memories of the 80s, this video is sure to make you feel nostalgic, as it's filled with big hair, ugly sweaters and some of the original MTV VJs, not to mention enough genuine and unabashed good cheer to make you wonder what was going on behind the scenes. MTV in 1981:
2. Merry Christmas, Baby - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Originally recorded in 1947, this song has been covered by everyone from Chuck Berry to Melissa Etheridge. Here's The Boss and his E street Band giving a great 2002 live performance on Conan O'Brien's show:
3. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
This song was originally recorded by Darlene Love in the early 1960s, and she later sang backup on the U2 version in 1987. In 2011, Mariah Carey also did a cover. The song was featured in the movie Gremlins as the opening credits roll.
4. Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney
Originally recorded in 1979, this one has been covered by an array of artists in subsequent years, but nobody does it better than Sir Paul McCartney. The video is pretty weird, but that was how most music videos were; the weirder, the better.
5. Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys
Released in early December of 1963, this song is about Santa and his sled, the little St. Nick. Maybe it's just conditioning, but when you listen to the Beach Boys, it magically feels like summer is in full swing.
6. Christmas All Over Again - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Petty informs us that, "Christmas is a rocking time", and he's right; it doesn't have to be stuffy and boring, which is what this list is all about. There's a touch of realism in the lyrics, in reference to relatives not seen in a long time, "Yeah, I kind of missed them, I just don't want to kiss them." Yeah, we know the feeling, Tom.
7. Jingle Bell Rock - Hall & Oates
The song was made popular by Bobby Helms after it's release in 1957. Daryl Hall and John Oates produced a fantastic cover, but this is one of the goofiest videos I've ever seen. Watch at your own risk.
8. Rock and Roll Christmas - George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Here's a fast, lively number that's perfect for when for when everyone has fallen into a lull. The title pretty much sums it up; you can't go wrong with this one. It was released in the early 80s, but it's George Thorogood, so it's got some bite to it, rather than having that gratuitous 1980s sound.
Do you have a preference?
Traditional or Non?
9. Merry Christmas, Everybody - Slade
This 1973 number is full of optimism and good cheer, although it's not a good one to dance to. It doesn't have a fast beat, yet it's not quite slow enough for a slow dance. No matter, it helps add the right ambience to any x-mas party.
10. All I Want for Christmas is You - Foghat
Not to be confused with the popular 1994 Mariah Carey carol or the Vince Vance and the Valiants ditty of the same title; although all three are worth a listen, they are completely different songs. The Foghat carol is fast-paced and carefree.
11. The Chanukah Song - Adam Sandler
A fun way to be a little more inclusive of other faiths (okay, well, at least one other faith) during the holiday season, "The Chanukah Song" has parts I, II, and III, each with slightly different lyrics and celebrity name dropping. Here is part one, which was originally part of a Saturday Night Live skit from 1994:
The Chanukah Song Live 1996
12. Please Come Home for Christmas - Eagles
Good for a slow dance, this one is not exactly cheerful. His baby's gone, he has no friends, he's got the blues, you know how it is. Originally released in 1960 by Charles Brown, it has been covered by the likes of John Bon Jovi, B.B. King, and Edgar & Johnny Winter. I chose the 1978 Eagles single for this list, because it's the prettiest.
13. Snoopy's Christmas - The Royal Guardsmen
This nostalgic 1967 song tells the story of how Snoopy flew out to fight the bloody Red Baron. It turns out to have a happy ending, because... well, x-mas magic. Good will to man, and all that stuff.
14. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
A good song to dance to for all ages; this one is not fast, but it has a good beat to it. It's very cheerful, and will put everyone in a good mood. Especially if they've been into the eggnog.
15. Run, Rudolph, Run - Chuck Berry
Run Rudolph Run is a tribute to everyone's favorite reindeer. It was released by Berry in 1958 and later covered by a plethora of other artists. However, Chuck Berry is the master, and he got it right the first time.
16. Mele Kalikimaka - Jimmy Buffet
Written in 1949, the song inspired cover versions by numerous artists over the years. It's only fitting that Jimmy Buffet would cover a tune with a title translating to "Merry Christmas" in Hawaiian.
17. The Little Drummer Boy - Bob Seger
Written in 1941, this one has been covered so many times, I could write an entire article on all of the artists who have recorded it. This is the only version of this song I've ever fallen in love with. What an awesome voice:
18. The Twelve Days of Christmas - Bob and Doug McKenzie (1982)
Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas were the McKenzie brothers, and their spoof of this song is too silly not to elicit at least a few smiles:
19. 2000 Miles - The Pretenders
Possibly the prettiest song on the playlist, this is perfect for a slow dance. It was released in the early 1980s, and it's a bit of an unexpected gem from the Pretenders.
20. Christmas Blues - Canned Heat
Yes, it's another lonely-at-Christmas, missing-my-baby ditty. It's just so good though, it has to be included. Don't play the blues songs back to back, and everything will work out alright.
21. Happy Xmas (War is Over) - John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Has anyone ever listened to this and not felt emotional? While acknowledging that "the world is so wrong", it's filled with so much hope and positivity.
22. White Christmas - The Drifters
Bing Crosby's version of this was probably the most popular, and the song dates back to 1942 with the original Irving Berlin score. I chose the 1954 update by the Drifters to add some doo-wop flavor to the mix. It's a fun number to sing along to.
23. Step Into Christmas - Elton John
Here is another ultra cheery, positive carol that you can dance to. It was released in 1973. Give it a listen, and see if it doesn't brighten your mood.
24. Thank God It's Christmas - Queen
This is a Queen original, written by Brian May and Roger Taylor, and it is a beautiful song. It's perfect for a slow dance, and it's not about being lonely or depressed.
25. Santa Claus and His Old Lady - Cheech & Chong
While not quite as silly as Bob & Doug's 12 Days of Christmas, this isn't so much a song as it is Cheech Marin telling Tommy Chong the story of Santa & his wife. It's an excellent choice to end a playlist, because it leaves everyone with a smile on their faces.
Even if you don't use them for your own playlist, I hope you at least enjoyed listening to the songs and watching the videos. It's a pretty good mix for alternating the pace and mood so that party goers won't get depressed or too wild. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Sara Krentz