Sometimes our holiday playlists can get a little outdated and dull from year to year. The good news is that finding new songs just takes a little patience and digging.
Here are 20 suggested “freshen-up” songs from across many genres — a blend of old and new to spruce up your holiday festivities.
Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994)
No holiday gift-wrapping playlist would be complete without Mariah Carey’s hit, “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Serving as the lead single from her first holiday album, 1994’s Merry Christmas, the record features the singer’s infamous dog-whistle register, layered vocal runs and festive bell chimes.
Gwen Stefani, “Santa Baby” (2017)
In 2017, Gwen Stefani shared a version of the classic “Santa Baby” on her album You Make It Feel Like Christmas. Like Eartha Kitt’s 1953 original release, Stefani’s rendition features pared-down drums and strings as she offers her tongue-in-cheek list of what she wants from Santa.
Britney Spears, “My Only Wish (This Year)” (2000)
Britney Spears’ only wish for the holiday in this song is to meet her true love. She asks Santa to wrap the person up and leave them under the tree so they might meet on Christmas morning.
Jessica Simpson, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” (2004)
Jessica Simpson gives the holiday staple “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” an upbeat, funky makeover. While the song’s lyrics are simple, it’s not a real holiday if we don’t wish for some snow — no matter what city you live in. (See next entry.)
PJ Morton, “Winter Wonderland” (2018)
PJ Morton takes the classic song “Winter Wonderland” and gives it a tropical, light-hearted twist, with reggae aesthetics and horns. The Maroon 5 keyboardist is clearly also hoping for some snow in his native New Orleans — giving listeners a fresh take on one of the season’s essentials.
Run-D.M.C., “Christmas in Hollis” (1987)
Run-D.M.C.’s take on a holiday song, with “Hollis” referring to the rap group’s native Queens neighborhood in New York City. Here, the three members riff on a casual run-in with Santa Claus and the cash he deliberately leaves them.
Meghan Trainor and Earth, Wind & Fire, “Holidays” (2020)
From Meghan Trainor’s 2020 album, A Very Trainor Christmas. Here, the singer taps Earth, Wind & Fire for the rosy, festive song “Holidays.” Turning on this tune will surely brighten your spirits if the task of shopping for presents seems overwhelming.
Ariana Grande, “Santa Tell Me” (2014)
For Christmas, Ariana Grande just wants one thing: to not fall in love with her crush. That’s the gift she requests from Santa Claus, pleading for him to help her out because she wants to make sure the relationship is strong enough to last.
Ne-Yo, “This Christmas” (2019)
Ne-Yo’s 2019 “This Christmas” covers Donny Hathaway’s seminal classic of the same name, originally released in 1970. Here, Ne-Yo also sings about all the accoutrements that accompany the perfect Christmas, including mistletoe, presents and a roaring fire.
Tyler, the Creator feat. Fletcher Jones, “I Am the Grinch” (2018)
What is Christmas without the Grinch? Tyler, the Creator’s new take on the vintage villain for the 2018 film Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch shows the rapper speaking from the Grinch’s point of view, announcing the havoc he plans to wreak on the unsuspecting people of Who-ville.
Sia, “Santa’s Coming for Us” (2018)
Sia’s bouncy song delivers a promise that Santa Claus is on his way this Christmas Eve, with a hope that Santa grants whatever wish the listener asks for this year.
The Eagles, “Please Come Home for Christmas” (1978)
While “Please Come Home for Christmas” is a bit of a melancholy song, no holiday is complete without it — especially The Eagles’ 1978 cover version. Here, the singer beseeches his love to come home for Christmas so they may partake in all the festivities.
Chuck Berry, “Christmas” (1970)
“Run Rudolph Run” may be Chuck Berry’s most well-known holiday hit, but his 1970 song “Christmas” is another solid addition to your playlist. On the track, he makes a list of what he and his love could do if they spent just one more Christmas together.
John Legend, “Bring Me Love” (2018)
John Legend’s holiday wish is also something non-materialistic: he wants Santa to bring him his love because he feels like that’s what he deserves in the new year.
The Who, “Christmas” (1969)
The Who’s 1969 song “Christmas” (from their rock opera Tommy) is an atypical Christmas song, rife with classic rock chords and vocals — raucous elements that can help break up the monotony of getting your home ready for guests.
Kelly Clarkson, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” (2021)
Kelly proves again and again that there’s a reason she won the first American Idol. In her cover of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” from her latest seasonal offering, When Christmas Comes Around…, she shows off her powerhouse singing chops while describing the seasonal trappings that make the holiday what it is.
Brenda Lee, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1958)
Brenda Lee’s 1958 song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” has sold over 25 million copies, and it’s the fourth most digital downloaded Christmas single ever. For many, it brings the 1990 film classic Home Alone to mind as it underscores the scene where Kevin McCallister pretends he’s hosting a holiday party at his house.
Destiny’s Child, “8 Days of Christmas” (2001)
The title song from Destiny’s Child’s 2001 album 8 Days of Christmas sees the three singers breaking down what their significant others gave to them over the course of the holiday, including a candlelit dinner.
Justin Bieber and Usher, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” (2011)
There have been a lot of covers of Nat King Cole’s 1946 hit, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” but Justin Bieber and Usher’s 2011 version is unmatched. After Bieber opens the song, the two singers duet, trading some of the most famous lines from the record.
Ella Fitzgerald, “Sleigh Ride” (1960)
Ella Fitzgerald released her version of “Sleigh Ride” in 1960. Backed by horns and drums, the jazzily ethereal track welcomes the holiday season with open arms, as she sings about a cozy sleigh ride amid the winter’s snow.