Christmas music by itself can spark fond memories of holiday traditions, but adding a little country to the mix adds a touch more sentimentality. Whether you’re listening to a country cover of a classic Christmas tune or a song about Christmas in the country, it makes for sweet, cheery listening.
So without further ado, here’s our list of the best country Christmas songs that make for a great addition to a holiday playlist.
Related: For more, check out our list of great country songs here.
1. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
Anyone who has seen Home Alone, or has been to an office Christmas party, has heard this 1958 Brenda Lee staple “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
The lyrics evoke the fun of attending a Christmas party with all the classic trappings: kissing under the mistletoe, enjoying pumpkin pie, and singing Christmas carols.
If you don’t sing along, you are at least dancing to that wonderful saxophone riff in the song’s bridge.
It’s not surprising then how many artists have covered this song. In fact, by 2008, after 50 years, the song had sold over 25 million copies worldwide and even became the 4th most downloaded Christmas song of all time.
2. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helm
This 1957 classic “Jingle Bell Rock” is a rock-and-roll-country hybrid song. Drawing inspiration from another classic, Jingle Bells, the song features just as catchy lyrics.
When it was released, it was an immediate success, reaching number 13 on Billboard’s Most Played C&W by Jockeys chart, a former version of the Hot Country Songs chart. Furthermore, it peaked at number 6 on the Best Sellers in Stores chart.
Many famous artists have covered the song, like Taylor Swift and Brenda Lee, but few match the distinct sound of Bobby Helm.
3. If We Make It Through December by Merle Haggard
“If We Make It Through December” depicts a working-class man’s struggles during the holiday season.
The man gets laid off just before Christmas but tries to hold out hope that Christmas will be magical despite his economic hardships.
The song’s themes are a bit heavier and melancholy, but the guitar instrumentation and singing are still light-hearted and bright. After all, the man sings about his love for his daughter and the joy he hopes she’ll have this Christmas.
The song ranked at number 1 on the Hot Country Singles chart and even made the Top 30 on the Hot 100 chart. At the end of 1974, it was number 2 on the Hot Country Singles chart.
4. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry
We had to cover a few classics you’ve listened to since childhood, and Autry’s version of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is undoubtedly one of the most famous.
You’re plunged right into a warm Christmas mood as soon as you hear Autry naming off the other reindeer.
The song was the number one song in Christmas 1949 in the United States. So it’s hard to believe that Autry almost didn’t want the song on a record he was making.
Thank goodness his wife convinced him to put it on, further cementing its commercial success.
5. Tennessee Christmas by Alabama
This one is a touch more sentimental, with lyrics describing the warmth of a Christmas spent in Tennessee.
It mentions that a Christmas spent in Colorado or California would be nice, but there’s nothing like a time spent in Tennessee with your loved ones.
This is one of those songs that you put on late at night in front of a warm fire. Cuddle up in a warm fleece blanket, put on the Christmas tree lights, and cuddle up close with your loved ones, even if you don’t live in Tennessee.
6. Country Christmas by Loretta Lynn
How can we not put it on our list with a name like that? Plus, the music and lyrics are so fun and jaunty that it needs to play at any country Christmas party.
If you need a reminder of what fun Christmas can be, this is it. There’s plenty of singing about presents, Christmas food, decorations, merry music, opening presents, and simply being with loved ones.
The whole song feels like a warm plaid flannel you wrap around yourself before heading to Christmas dinner.
7. Where Are You, Christmas? by Faith Hill
Originally written for the 2000 film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “Where Are You, Christmas?” evokes the melancholy of Christmas changing as you grow up.
It starts slow and sad, but it does end in triumph, with the singer realizing that the spirit of Christmas never dies.
It might not be a jaunty party song, but the lyrics and vocal performance from Faith Hill are extraordinarily powerful.
It peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart in 2001, finished at number 65 on the Billboard Hot 100, and continues to play on the radio at Christmastime.
8. Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
Although Elvis is not the first person to cover this song, “Blue Christmas” feels like his song with his classic voice and iconic lyrics.
You might have first heard this song in the Rankin-Bass holiday special A Year Without a Santa Claus, where Elvis did not sing it but was still just as iconic.
The song is a short picture of one person missing his love one Christmas, with their white Christmas and the singer’s blue Christmas.
The song may be melancholy, but the lyrics are fun to sing, especially when mimicking Elvis’s voice or the choir’s.
9. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Johnny Cash
If you’ve ever felt skeptical of the Christmas sentiment “peace on Earth, goodwill to men,” this song captures that feeling well.
The singer doesn’t feel that those two beautiful things are true, but when they hear Christmas bells ringing and choirs singing like angels, the Christmas spirit feels more true than ever.
Johnny Cash recorded this song in 1977 when the world greatly needed a message of hope and joy.
The song comes from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about the depravity and tragedy of the Civil War, and the longing for hope and peace translates well into the Christmas season.
10. Let It Be Christmas by Alan Jackson
One of two original songs on Jackson’s 2002 album, “Let It Be Christmas,” is a great song to hum as you decorate your tree or put finishing touches on Christmas cookies.
The lyrics reflect on the festiveness of Christmas but also the hope that we shall find peace on Earth one day. You might even need to reach for some tissues if you listen too hard.
Critics also found it a marvelous song since it was a Top 40 hit on the Hot Country Songs chart in 2002.
11. Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson
It might not be a toe-tapper or a powerful ballad, but the story behind this sweet little 1964 song warms the heart.
Willie Nelson wrote this song after seeing a disabled man selling paper, ribbon, and pencils on the street at Christmas.
The song tells of the things you can do with those objects, like wrapping presents in the pretty blue ribbon and writing an “I love you” note on the paper with pencils.
“Pretty Paper” has seen plenty of covers through the years by artists like Kenny Chesney, Emmy Rossum, The Lumineers, and Dolly Parton.
The original cover by Roy Orbison even several charts, including getting number 6 on the UK Singles chart.
12. O Holy Night by Martina McBride
We all have our favorite rendition of this hymn, but Martina McBride’s version is up there with the best.
It perfectly captures the world’s quiet longing for a savior and the triumphant thrill of knowing that Christ is finally born on a divine night. You might need some tissues when sampling this song for the first time.
Upon this song’s release in 1997, it made number 74 on the Hot Country Songs chart but slowly rose in rank across the years. It rose to number 67 in 1998, 49 in 1999, 57 in 2000, and 41 in 2001.
13. Run, Run Rudolph by Luke Bryan
You probably think of the O’Hare airport scene from Home Alone when you “Run, Run Rudolph.”
While Luke Bryan’s version does not quite match the classic tones of Chuck Berry, it is just as frenetic and fun. It might be cause for playing some air guitar as you bake cookies or decorate your home.
Luke Bryan’s version is one of the most successful covers of this song in the United States, peaking at number 42 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
It might help that Bryan wishes the audience a quick “Merry Christmas” just before the song ends.
14. Santa Baby by Kellie Pickler
Originally released in 1953 and performed by Eartha Kitt, Santa Baby is a highly controversial song that was initially banned in the Southern United States. Some critics considered it too provocative and suggestive for a Christmas song.
Kellie Pickler’s country rendition of this song adds her Southern charm to the sultry crooning lyrics.
The song debuted at number 49 on the Hot Country Songs chart and eventually peaked at number 33 after five weeks, selling over 140,000 digital downloads in the United States.
15. Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton
What’s a country Christmas song list without Dolly Parton? In this song, her voice brings to mind images of classic Christmas hard candies, like lollipops or candy canes, which, once upon a time, were the only presents that families could afford.
The film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas originally featured the song where Dolly sings about staying strong through a hard time. The title even evokes the sentiment of life being both hard and sweet, just like hard candy.
Like any Dolly Parton song, “Hard Candy Christmas” was famous throughout the 80s and 90s and is sometimes played at Christmastime nowadays.
16. Mary, Did You Know? by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna
Few classic Christmas songs draw attention to Jesus’s virgin mother, Mary, and the wonder she must have felt throughout the Christmas story.
Indeed, this beautiful song asks Mary about what wonders her baby boy would one day do, like walking on water and healing the blind.
Kenny Rogers and Wynonna are not the first to cover this song, but it was a successful cover in 1997.
The song peaked at number 55 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart that year and continues to warm country music lovers’ hearts every year.
17. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Vince Gill
Though nothing can top Judy Garland’s original cover of this song, Vince Gill’s rendition took the number 54 spot on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
The album it came on, Let There Be Peace on Earth, was the top holiday album of 1993, eventually going Platinum with over 1,700,000 records sold as of December 2012.
Gill’s version is a perfect holiday lullaby, sparking warm, lovely images of decorating a Christmas tree and surrounding yourself with loved ones.
The song invites you to forget your troubles and “make the yuletide gay,” and what more can you ask for during Christmas?
18. Please Come Home for Christmas by Eagles
The Eagles may primarily be a rock band, but “Please Come Home for Christmas” was a country hit back in 1978, ranking at number 15 in the Hot Adult Contemporary Takes chart.
While not as croony or sentimental as “Blue Christmas,” it does evoke a melancholy image of a Christmas without your loved ones.
You might have heard it at one point during Home Alone since those movies have every classic Christmas song ever.
Despite the sad imagery, it’s still a fun song to nod your head to when waiting in line for Christmas shopping.
19. Old Toy Trains by Roger Miller
Toys are a time-honored symbol of the Christmas season, and this 1967 song kindly reminds you that you won’t get toys unless you’re in bed on Christmas Eve.
The joyful melody also brings up images of trying to sleep while listening for Santa’s sleigh to come to your home.
This short and simple song paved the way for several popular covers and even ended an eight-year hiatus at Smash Records for releasing Christmas singles.
Summing Up Our List Of Christmassy Country Songs
Christmas is the time of year when all your favorite artists spread Christmas cheer, and country music is no exception.
Whether you’re listening to a time-honored classic or Christmas songs about country life, it puts you in a festive and warm mood.
Hopefully, you found some new favorites on this list for the holiday season, and given how popular country music is, chances are more great hits will pop up in the years to come.