Classic Christmas songs are without a doubt incredibly popular year after year, and some songs have remained for decades. The best Christmas carols and songs manage to capture the spirit of the holidays and tap into our nostalgia, making us sing along despite ourselves.
Who hasn’t burst into a little “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” once in a while? That’s what this list is all about: the greatest classic Christmas tunes.
Holiday songs can be traditional Christmas carols like “O Holy Night” and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” or they can be more modern, rocking versions of classics like Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus is Coming To Town.”
The best songs often come from brilliant best Christmas albums, too. Case in point: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” became a staple holiday song after it’s release in 1994, as part of Carey’s Christmas album, titled appropriately enough, ‘Merry Christmas.’
From the classic Christmas songs to the more modern, this list includes the greatest holiday songs ever sung.
What are the best classic Christmas songs of all time?
Here is our list of 20 best classic Christmas songs of all time.
1. White Christmas (1942)
Bing Crosby’s classic hit about a picturesque Christmas scene is one of the most popular holiday songs ever — Guinness World Records even named it the best-selling single of all time.
2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (1944)
Judy Garland originally recorded this soft Christmas song for the musical Meet Me in St. Louis, which is about four daughters coming of age while getting ready to move to New York.
3. The Christmas Song (1946)
Everyone knows this holiday song as the one where Nat King Cole sings, “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” It’s so popular that it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974.
4. Frosty the Snowman (1947)
Gene Autry is the voice behind this holiday song that you’ve been listening to since you were a little kid — in fact, the same goes for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!
5. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (1948)
This jazzy holiday song by Frank Sinatra is about that cold winter weather we have a love-hate relationship with. Although it wasn’t on his original Christmas album, it was featured on the updated compilation album years later.
6. Santa Baby (1953)
This cheeky song by Eartha Kitt is about wanting some pretty extravagant Christmas gifts. Even though this is a holiday tune, it’s one of her most well-known songs ever.
7. Blue Christmas (1957)
Elvis Presley’s recording of this song is the most well-known version, but rumor has it that he didn’t even want to sing it in the first place, according to an interview with late singer Millie Kirkham.
8. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (1958)
Brenda Lee was only 13 years old (!) when she recorded this holiday favorite. She’d probably never guess that people would still be listening to it in 2018.
9. Sleigh Ride (1958)
This Johnny Mathis pop song is from his first Christmas album ever — in total, he’s released six throughout his career.
10. Jingle Bells (1960)
Ella Fitzgerald’s jazzy rendition of this Christmas classic is a holiday staple. A harmonica version of it was actually the first song ever played in outer space, according to the Smithsonian.
11. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (1963)
Fun fact: This holiday pop song by Andy Williams is often featured in back-to-school commercials for Staples.
12. A Holly Jolly Christmas (1965)
This holiday pop song by Burl Ives is the leading track on his Christmas album. The song was actually written by Johnny Marks, who, despite being Jewish, wrote tons of other popular Christmas songs.
13. Winter Wonderland (1966)
Dean Martin’s take on this classic holiday hit is upbeat and genuinely fun to listen to. He, too, has an entire Christmas album complete with all your holiday favorites.
14. Feliz Navidad (1970)
Puerto Rican singer José Feliciano’s song has easy-to-remember lyrics in both Spanish and English, making it one of the most popular Christmas songs among all types of people.
15. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1970)
Even though Jimmy Boyd was the original artist of this song, Jackson 5’s cover is so much catchier — the funky beats, amazing vocals, and the innocent conversations recorded in the background are so energetic.
16. This Christmas (1971)
You’ve probably heard this soul song covered by plenty of other artists, but Donny Hathaway was the first. Rolling Stone even called him one of the “most important black performers” of his time.
17. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (1971)
John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded this with the Harlem Community Choir as a protest song against the Vietnam War, and it eventually became a classic Christmas hit.
18. Wonderful Christmastime (1980)
Paul McCartney, the famed musician known for being part of the Beatles, sings this upbeat pop song about the good vibes on Christmas.
19. Last Christmas (1984)
Pop duo WHAM!, composed of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, might originally be from the United Kingdom, but their music is still super popular in the states.
20. Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1985)
Just give this Bruce Springsteen song a listen, and you’ll instantly realize why he’s called “The Boss.” It’s the most energetic performance of this classic holiday song out there.