When you think of favorite Christmas music, everyone is going to have their own favorite songs.  But even within the genre of Christmas music, there are varying sub-genres such as a capella, orchestral, and rock.  So if you are interested in Christmas albums for a holiday party, musical gift ideas, or just building your own music library, here is an eclectic list of my favorite Christmas albums.

1.  Straight No Chaser: Holiday Spirits

Perfect if you like:  The Sing Off, Glee, a capella music

Thanks to the show The Sing Off, a capella music is becoming more mainstream.  These guys have a polished sound and harmonize so beautifully.  They produce a sound that you can really just listen to.  This isn’t just background music for reading, but for decorating the tree or having a romantic holiday meal.  

Highlight(s):  The 12 Days of Christmas
Spoiler!  It’s a mashup of lots of Christmas songs, with a funny twist.

More albums like this:
1.    Glee The Music presents The Warblers
2.    Battle: The Beelzebubs (the voices behind the Warblers)
3.    Seasons Greetings: A Jersey Boys Christmas

2.  Holiday Pops:  The Boston Pops Orchestra/Keith Lockhart

Perfect if you like:  Mostly instrumental, orchestral music, classic Christmas songs

Top 5 Christmas Albums(71931)Credit: More Good Foundation @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/moregoodfoundation/5138584459/This album has a mix of instrumental and vocal music for a range of religious, cartoon, and traditional Christmas songs. 

Highlight(s):  L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2/Farandole
I know, the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.  But it’s such a chipper song, and although it absolutely feels seasonal, it’s not your standard, overplayed song that everyone knows.  This album has plenty of great classics too, but if you want to hear something original, give this song a listen.

More albums like this:
1.    A Christmas Festival with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops
2.    Christmas with the Pops
3.    Christmas at the Pops Greatest Hits

3.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Perfect if you like:  Nostalgic childhood cartoons

This soundtrack doesn’t just have the songs from the movie.  It actually has the entire book narrated by Boris Karloff.  But if you’re looking for childhood nostalgia when you’re decorating your home for Christmas, this is a great album to listen to.  It will conjure up all the illustrations of the Grinch, the Hoos, and Max the dog turned reindeer. 

Fa Hoo Four Ace Dah Hoo Door Ace  (Or maybe the title is “Welcome Christmas," I can’t be sure).
There’s just something about this song.  It’s so sappy sweet, summing up the theme of the movie, and the point of Christmas.  It’s not about the merchandise; it’s about love and togetherness. 

More albums like this:
1.    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
2.    The Nightmare Before Christmas
3.    A Christmas Together (The Muppets)

4.  The Nutcracker

Perfect if you like:  Instrumental music, haunting Christmas music, theater

Top 5 Christmas Albums(71930)Credit: hans S @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/archeon/73833963/Of course The Nutcracker is the soundtrack to a ballet production with the same name.  And even if you’ve never seen the ballet, you will hear themes in the music that allude to a story being told in song.  And yet this music is relaxing enough that you could probably read a good book with this playing in the background.  If you like dramatic and haunting music, this is a good classic for your music library. 

Highlight(s): Divertissement. 

This is probably the most popular tune.  It’s the lilting music made popular in luxury car ads in November and December. 

More albums like this:
1.    Messiah
2.    Joy to the World, Eugene Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra
3.    A Festival of Carols in Brass

5.  Transiberian Orchestra (The Lost Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve and Other Stories)

Perfect if you like:  Rock, mash-ups of Christmas favorites, a mix of vocal with instrumental music

Top 5 Christmas Albums(71929)Credit: MorganHolmes @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/morganholmes/4167442384/I’m not usually a huge fan of rock.  I’d sooner listen to classical music.  But sometimes a modern spin on an old classic is just so inspired that you can’t help but eat it up.  That’s how I feel about this album. 

Carol of the Bells.  Played on an electric guitar.  Now, even though there are bells in the title, I’ve always thought this song was best performed with heavy handed drama, not a light, chipper staccato like many vocalists (and in fact bells player) tend towards.  And you can’t get much heavier than electric guitar.  Although it takes on a very different feel, it just somehow works.  AMAZINGLY. 

More albums like this: 
1.    Mannheim Steamroller (there are several Christmas albums)
2.    Dead Winter, Savatage
3.    There’s not many albums that can compare to this one, sorry.

Bonus:  I can't resist doing a bonus on a top 5 list!  Here it is:

6.  Glee’s Christmas Album (Volumes 1&2)

Perfect if you like:  Pop music, modern versions of Classic Christmas songs, Glee

Glee is one of those shows you either love or hate, so if you were going to get this album you probably already would have by now!  On the other hand, if you’re thinking of buying it as a gift for a niece, it’s good choice if she likes cheerful pop music. 

Highlight(s):  The Most Wonderful Day of the Year
One of my favorite Christmas songs from childhood.  This brings back memories of the claymation reindeer and the cute little blond elf.  But I also really enjoy this song because it showcases the distinct personalities of the Glee cast, with many of the kids getting a mini solo.  It’s a bright, cheerful song which is Glee music and Christmas music at its best.

More albums like this:
1.    Any Glee album
2.    Christmas: Michael Buble
3.    A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas: Kristen Chenoweth