If you’re stuck for a last-minute holiday gift, why not consider giving a music lover one of the best Christmas albums of all time? This is something you can easily buy online and have shipped, if you choose vintage vinyl or (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) an old-fashioned CD.
Of course, you can always use a music streaming service or sign up for Amazon Prime Music to download a Christmas album immediately. Talk about an ideal gift choice for the procrastinator.
Or you can give the gift of Amazon Prime, which comes with dozens of benefits. With regards to the best Christmas albums or music in general, a Prime membership includes unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs.
What are the best Christmas albums of all time
So, what was the inspiration for writing this article about the best Christmas albums of all time? Well, I got information from the site Stacker.com on this topic.
Turns out Stacker compiled this list using data from numerous music websites. These albums span genres and eras.
And while I mostly agree with these choices, I’ve added in some choices of my own. Plus, I’ve included my own editorial commentary on the pros and cons of these Christmas albums.
Also, if you agree with my assessment, I’ve included links to make your shopping for these albums easier. These links are for physical albums (vinyl or CD) and/or digital downloads.
As an aside, did you know that Best Buy has an extensive collection of vinyl records you can purchase online? Neither did I!
Finally, this is an unranked list. So, enjoy as you scroll to see if any of your favorites turn up in this compilation of the best Christmas albums of all time.
A Beach Boys’ Christmas Album by The Beach Boys
Released in 1964, A Beach Boys’ Christmas Album contains classic holiday songs like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Debuting at #6 on the Billboard Christmas Albums chart when it was released, the album featured not only Christmas classics that everyone knows but also five original tracks.
One of them is “Little Saint Nick,” which has become a classic in its own right. I know I hear it all the time on radio stations playing Christmas music, such as the Hallmark Channel on Sirius XM.
White Christmas by Bing Crosby
This is a posthumous compilation of Bing Crosby’s most popular and best Christmas songs. “White Christmas” features songs like the acclaimed title track as well as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” This album, available as a CD on Amazon, features Crosby at his crooning best.
Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald
If you’re looking for one of the best jazz Christmas albums of all time, then you must own Ella Fitzgerald’s “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas” from 1960. This album includes her unique jazzy take on 12 classic holiday songs, ranging from “Jingle Bells” to “Frosty the Snowman.”
A Very Special Christmas (various artists)
It was 1987 when the very first “A Very Special Christmas” debuted. This compilation album features various artists from a wide variety of genres, singing classic as well as original holiday songs. My absolute favorite song on this album is “Christmas in Hollis” by the rap group Run DMC.
After that first “A Very Special Christmas” album, featuring Keith Haring’s artwork on the cover, there have been a handful more of these Christmas albums. This includes a 25th anniversary edition of “A Very Special Christmas,” which came out in 2012.
Elvis The Classic Christmas Album’ by Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley released a number of different Christmas-themed albums over the years. However, Elvis The Classic Christmas Album is now digitially remastered and available on vinyl or CD on Amazon.
Also, it’s a two-record set. So, you’re getting 16 of the very best Elvis Christmas songs.
Merry Christmas by Mariah Carey
I’ll state right up front that I’m not a huge Mariah Carey fan. For example, when Peloton announced that Carey was the latest artists series for themed classes, I couldn’t have cared less–even after learning that she appeared live in a Cody Rigsby LOL class.
However, I realize that I’m likely in the minority with regards to her status as “Queen of Christmas.” So, that being said, I figured I should include “Merry Christmas,” Mariah Carey’s first Christmas album, which consists of covers and original material.
Perhaps the best-known of the original tracks is “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” You can find the vinyl version of “Merry Christmas” at Walmart.
A Very She & Him Christmas by She & Him
In case you didn’t know, the music group She & Him is actress Zooey Deschanel (from the show “New Girl”) and musician M. Ward. This was their first Christmas album.
It includes the songs “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Last Christmas” and The Beach Boys “Little Saint Nick” among other Christmas classics.
Fun fact: Deschanel, her hair dyed blonde, plays Jovie in the movie “Elf.” The She & Him album includes the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which Deschanel sang in “Elf.”
In our family, it is our tradition to dress up in Elf onesies pajamas and watch the movie together each December.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This is more an audio recording of the 1966 TV special “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” based on the Dr. Seuss book, than a traditional Christmas album. This is not the Jim Carey version.
Boris Karloff narrates the story and it includes the show’s best-known song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” This soundtrack actually won a Grammy.
Barenaked for the Holidays by Barenaked Ladies
If I want up-tempo holiday music that celebrates both Christmas and Chanukah, then I will alway play “Barenaked for the Holidays” by the band Barenaked Ladies. They were my favorite band in the 1990s and early 2000s. My family and I even went on a fan cruise with the band.
Like so many other Christmas albums, “Barenaked for the Holidays” includes covers of classics, such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / We Three Kings.” However, I’m not sure you’ve ever heard a version like this, which features Sarah McLachlan.
Also, one of the “Ladies” original songs on this album is “Elf’s Lament.” Michael Buble sings with them. But, more importantly, the lyrics are so funny and clever, discussing what would happen if the elves at Santa’s Workshop were ever to go on strike. You can find a CD version of “Barenaked for the Holidays” on Amazon.
A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi Trio
The Christmas special “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted the same year I was born. Yeah, I’m that old.
Nonetheless, for me, this show always signified that we were truly in the holiday season. And it still does.
Also, it introduced me to the jazzy music of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. I dare you to listen to this album and not smile and dance.
December by George Winston
I’ll admit that “December” by George Winston is not your typical Christmas album. However, I still believe it belongs in the best category.
Filled with Winston’s distinctive piano playing, this all-instrumental album is a classical take on traditional holiday and religious songs. One of my favorites, despite it being one of the shortest songs on the album, is “Carol of the Bells.”
Here’s what Amazon had to say about this iconic album:
“As testament to December’s enduring appeal and significance, in 2009 and 2012 – thirty years after its initial release – the album appeared on Billboard’s Top Holiday Albums chart.”
Finally, perhaps one of the most iconic voices of Christmas music is singer Nat King Cole. Over his career, he sang on so many Christmas albums that it’s hard to choose which one is the best overall. So, here is a link to all of Nat King Cole’s Christmas music so you can decide for yourself.
Best Country Christmas Albums
There are actually three country Christmas albums that belong in this best of list. These represent country legends both old and new. Here are my picks:
Christmas With Johnny Cash’ by Johnny Cash
Released the year that he died, “Christmas With Johnny Cash” is an incredible compilation of the country star’s greatest Christmas songs. It appears this album is available only as a CD on Amazon.
A Very Kacey Christmas by Kacey Musgraves
This is the first Christmas album by country singer Kacey Musgraves. If you haven’t heard her sing anything yet, make it your New Year’s resolution to do so by getting A Very Kacey Christmas. Mustgraves has a voice I could listen to for days on end.
Also, when the album came out, Musgraves issues a limited edition ruby red vinyl version of the record. You can buy that red record on Amazon.
Once Upon a Christmas by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
The “Once Upon a Christmas” album was inspired by a CBS television special in 1984. It was Kenny Rogers’ second Christmas album and Dolly Parton’s first. Despite the passage of time, it’s still a classic.
Check out these older musicians who are still performing live.
Here is a fun Christmas movie trivia game with some questions about music.
This article has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.