Ask Design Mom: Christmas Music

November 16, 2006

Kendra writes: Hello Design Mom!
I know Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet, but there are some Christmas
things that you must prepare early. One of those things is music. Do you have any suggestions for good holiday tunes? I’d like to have some new music to put me in the holiday spirit this season. Thanks!

Oh goody! Christmas Music. Thanks for the question. And let me start with a warning:
I tend toward the proven in the Christmas music category. Not because I don’t like new music. It’s just that if it’s a totally new song or new version of a song, then I won’t be able to associate it with holidays past. It takes me a few Christmases of hearing a song before I can conjure up warm and cozy feelings when I hear it.

To answer the question, I went straight to our Holiday Storage Boxes. Since our first year of marriage, Ben and I have made a point to add a Christmas CD to our collection every year and I confess some of our picks have been total bombs. But here are some of the favorites:

1) Ave Maria Christmas Favorites — with Placido Domingo, Mario Lanza, Robert Shaw Chorale
2) Messiah — Sir David Willcocks conducts the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
3) Big Band Christmas — featuring the Pete Jacobs Orchestra
4) Cambridge Chorale Christmas CD
5) And our most played CD is a custom mix which contains:

Christmas Means Morethe Grinch
Happy Christmas
Neil Diamond
Wonderful Christmas Time
Paul McCartney
Silent Night — Jewel, Sarah Mclachlan & Indigo Girls
Blue Christmas
— Elvis Presley
Give Love on Christmas Day
— Jackson 5
Run Rudolph Run
— Chuck Berry
Happy Hanukkah
— Adam Sandler
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
— John Denver & the Muppets
Little Drummer Boy
— Joan Jett
Do They Know It’s Christmas
— Band-Aid
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
— The Temptations
Little Saint Nick
— The Beach Boys
Jingle Bells
— Singing Dogs
Rockin Around the Christmas Tree
— Artist Unknown
Trim Up the Tree
— The Who’s from Whoville

Full disclosure (and you may have already gathered): I am no music guru. I take ALL my music cues from friends and family. My brothers Josh and Jared have been lifelong music influencers, plus, my sister-in-law Erin, and friends (like the Wrights and Cynthia) are also people I look to for music advice.

So I’m putting the query out to my friends, family and readers: What’s the best holiday music out there that we’re not listening to?

Christmas CD images from Amazon.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erin November 16, 2006 at 8:31 am

oh, oh. i know. Our favorite cd is called Bright Day Star; Music for the Yuletide season by the Baltimore Consort, an early music ensemble. This recording has old music from British Isles, Germany and Appalachia. It’s where we first discovered the Cherry Tree Carol. You can find it on amazon, but unfortunately not on itunes.

Another favorite we discovered last year is a collection of original and traditional christmas tunes by Sufjan Stevens. I haven’t found these for sale anywhere, but you can download them free here:


2 Erin November 16, 2006 at 8:34 am

I was wrong, you can buy the cd on


3 Anonymous November 16, 2006 at 9:12 am

This is a little silly, but like 8 years ago, Bath & Body Works sold some Christmas CDs that I still listen to constantly. I think they are called “Heartfelt Holidays.” They just have these wonderful old classics on there. Look on eBay or iTunes!


4 Emily S. November 16, 2006 at 9:35 am

For any John Denver fans (of which I am proud to admit I am one) – Rocky Mountain Christmas has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.


5 laurie November 16, 2006 at 10:07 am

erin — thanks for that sufjan tip. i’m downloading as we speak!

also, i recently discovered this one at the library: Christmas Cocktails (from the Ultra Lounge series). great swingin 50s/60s-era stuff, like The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole.


6 amy November 16, 2006 at 11:51 am

Our family faves from when I was growing up that I still love are the Carpenters Christmas and the Osmonds Christmas!!! I also love Barry Manilow’s Christmas stuff! But really, I don’t listen to these groups other than Christmas. Just so ya know.


7 Juliane November 16, 2006 at 1:28 pm

I’m with Gabby – the older the recording, the fonder the memories. The Andy Williams Christmas Album is what does it for me because it takes me back to my parents living room with all the lights off expect the Christmas tree lights, a crackling fire in the fireplace – oooh I love Christmas! (Also, Manheim Steamroller Christmas Album)


8 Jenni November 16, 2006 at 3:45 pm

sophie loves charlotte church’s Dream a Dream christmas album, i like it too, the song When a Child is Born is really sweet. robert loves roger whitaker’s christmas album.


9 kathryn c. November 16, 2006 at 3:53 pm

Hey Gabby, remember you gave us your custom mix cd one Christmas? It makes me happy to think about getting it out soon for Christmas. Fun!!!


10 Anonymous November 16, 2006 at 4:35 pm

Another plug for the Carpenters!


11 Christine A., NY November 16, 2006 at 4:48 pm

OK, for those of you having work people over for a holiday party who want to look cool and savvy, check out Tuck Andress’ “Hymns, Carols and songs about Snow” (acoustic guitar), and of course everyone will recognize “A Charlie Brown Christmas” sound track by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. To get wacky, go with “A Creole Christmas”, or Bob Rivers & Twisted Radio’s “I Am Santa Claus”. The latter has tunes like “I Came Upon a Roadkill Deer” and “Walkin’ Round in Women’s Underwear”, to name a few. Happy Holidays!


12 Namona November 16, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Thank you so much for all of the ideas! Can’t wait to get some new cds. Thanks, Design Mom, for always taking time to answer all of our questions.


13 Anonymous November 16, 2006 at 8:06 pm

Mannheim Steamroller has several Christmas albums, get all of them! I love Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, and Harry Connick Jr.’s “When My Heart Finds Christmas” We also grew up listening to the Home Alone soundtrack. (There are so many good ones!) Target has a dollar section and sells Christmas cds for a dollar each! we love the children’s choir and the Nutcracker recorded by the London Symphony.


14 Anonymous November 17, 2006 at 11:22 am

Heard of this? I’m not a fan of the entire album, but there are some really nice versions of some classic carols.


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