25 Days of Tunes: Your Christmas Song Advent Calendar

We've got the soundtrack to your holiday season

Photo: Getty(2); Everett

The annual rollout of Christmas songs is often a rushed, haphazard affair: You can only take so many versions of “Sleigh Ride” crammed into your Black Friday commute before you crack. So to help you cope, we’ve created this Christmas Song Advent Calendar. Play one of these songs each day as we approach Christmas to help you get in the spirit.

Dec. 1: "Jingle Bells"

Obviously we started with this song because it is so cliché. That’s why we’re publishing this the day after we picked it. Beyond one listen this holiday season, there’s no reason to play “Jingle Bells” again (until next year maybe).

Dec. 2: "Sleigh Ride"

This song is semi-annoying, but it’s deceptive: Did you know it never actually mentions Christmas, religion or any holiday? Technically, it could be about visiting relatives any time of the year … via sleigh. That’s why we’re putting it in the rotation early.

Dec. 3: "The Carol of the Bells"

This song is based on a traditional Ukrainian folk chant known as “Shchedryk.” (Fun fact: So is the song from “Tetris.”) Dec. 3 is the perfect day to go around informing people of that fact.

Dec. 4: "Last Christmas"

It’s Thursday, you’re almost through the first week of December. The weekend isn’t here, and you’ve still got a day or so of work to go. That makes this the perfect time to start in on the lovelorn Christmas songs. George Michael is here to help with that.

Dec. 5: "Let’s Make Christmas Merry, Baby"

It’s the first Friday of the Christmas season! The pressures of the season aren’t weighing on you yet; you probably haven’t even started shopping! Time to get bundled up and hit the town – let Amos Milburn set the tone for your evening.

Dec. 6: "Do They Know It’s Christmas?"

Annnnnd, curveball! Wake up on the first Saturday of the Christmas season with this reminder of those less fortunate than yourself. If you’re going shopping today and you happen to pass a Salvation Army bell ringer, think of this song while you dig around for change.

Dec. 7: "Christmas Wrapping"

If you actually got any shopping done this weekend, let this 1981 tune by The Waitresses soundtrack your wrapping. If not, shake off that hangover and get moving. You’re almost into the second week of December!

Dec. 8: "Christmastime Is Here"

It’s the second week of December! Rejoice! But it’s also a Monday. *sad trombone* That’s why this beautiful, melancholy Vince Guaraldi tune is perfect for today.

Dec. 9: "All I Want for Christmas Is You"

You’re into the work week, but you’re not yet fully consumed by the thought of Christmas. Instead, you may be thinking of the office holiday party (which usually takes place this week or the next) and thinking about that coworker of yours you’ve always had a crush on. Not that we’re encouraging office romances, but you waited all year for this, didn’t you? Seize the day!

Dec. 10: "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"

Because Mommy probably went to the Christmas party.

Dec. 11: "Little Drummer Boy"

David Bowie and Bing Crosby recorded this song on Sept. 11, 1977. 37 years later, it’s become one of the most cherished and bizarre holiday collaborations in history. Crosby reportedly called Bowie “a real clean-cut kid” proving David Bowie is an amazing actor or Bing Crosby had no idea what was going on.

Dec. 12: "Baby It’s Cold Outside"

At this point in the month, you’re probably facing some Christmas fatigue, but you’re not close enough to the actual holidays to be too stressed out. This means it’s the perfect time to have “just half a drink more” and hermetically seal yourself indoors, away from the cold and crowds.

Dec. 13: "Frosty the Snowman"

If you actually parse the lyrics to this song, you’ll see Frosty is a hedonist who advocates living for the moment (before he melts) and runs afoul of the local police before skipping town. It’s the perfect soundtrack (thematically, at least) for the last stress-free Saturday night before holiday crunch time.

Dec. 14: "Another Lonely Christmas"

This is a Prince song about getting hammered on banana daiquiris every Christmas because your beloved died in an ice-skating accident. It is amazing. You’re probably hungover from tearing up the town with Frosty all Saturday night, so take it easy today: You’ve got just over a week before Christmas.

Dec. 15: "Wonderful Christmas Time"

You’re in it now. This is the last full work week before Christmas. Drink deep of this song’s grating melody and dated synths. There’s no turning back now.

Dec. 16: "Jingle Bell Rock"

This song was written by a professional PR man and an ad writer (Joseph Carleton Beal and James Ross Boothe, respectively). Let their precision-engineered attempt at infiltrating the pop charts soundtrack the shopping you’ve surely started this week.

Dec. 17: "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"

This horrifying cautionary tale of eggnog consumption should serve as a warning to you as you make the rounds of holiday parties this week. Be careful: You don’t want to end up like Grandma.

Dec. 18: "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"


Dec. 19: "Blue Christmas"

It’s been a long week, hasn’t it? Don’t go out tonight. Rest up: Tomorrow’s the last Saturday you have to shop until Christmas. This song is suitably laid-back; the calm before the storm, if you will.

Dec. 20: "Santa Baby"

As you go about your put-off-to-the-last-minute shopping, let Eartha Kitt’s sultry list of demands be your guide.

Dec. 21: "Silent Night"

Unless you started traveling early (like a crazy person), this is probably your last night of comparative peace before the holidays. Enjoy it.

Dec. 22: "Fairytale of New York"

Drunk tanks, the NYPD choir: Kristy MacColl and Shane MacGowan’s timeless ode to Christmas in New York has it all. Bittersweet and beautiful, this song’s got everything, and it’s the perfect palette cleanser before the homestretch.

Dec. 23: "I’ll Be Home for Christmas"

If you’re traveling today, get there safe. That’s all.

Dec. 24: "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday"

So do we, obscure 1970s glam-rock band featuring a member of ELO. So do we.

Dec. 25: "Happy Christmas (War is Over)"

Deservedly one of the few modern Christmas songs to be canonized. That’s the Harlem Community Choir doing backing vocals. Lennon intended the song to be a sneaky anti-war tune, hence this video. Some people might object to it, but remember: There’s a bigger world out there than the one you see from your living room window during the holidays.

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