5 Wonderful Christmas Songs on Guitar (And How to Play Them)

5-wonderful-christmas-songs-on-guitar-and-how-to-play-them

Yes, pickers and strummers, it’s that time of year again, and why should it be an excuse to take a break from your beloved guitar? If you don’t know already, Christmas provides ample opportunities for you to show off your musical skills: helping with sing-a-longs at parties, carolings, friend and family time, and quiet moments with that special someone are all great chances to express your musical self, show people what you’re made of, and take part in the centuries-old (and now pretty much universal) winter holiday.

To help you out, we’ve put together a short list of some of the more popular Christmas songs on guitar for you to learn. The first three songs here can be found in the Uberchord app, so learning them is easy and playing them well is a given. So let’s get cracking, shall we?

1. White Christmas

5-wonderful-christmas-songs-on-guitar-and-how-to-play-them
In the film White Christmas Bing Crosby sings the song for his World War II comrades-in-arms.

The first song on our list is the classic “White Christmas,” as sung by Bing Crosby.

Rumour has it that when Irving Berlin wrote the song in 1940 he was staying in a hotel in California— and perhaps missing the snowy New York winter.

When the song began to take form in his head he reportedly told his secretary, “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!” The jury is still out on whether it’s the best song ever written, but according to Guinness World Records Bing Crosby’s version was to become the top selling single ever.

It’s not a hard song to play unless you hate to slow down and play it tender and sweet, because that really is how it should be played. In the key of G major it fits most vocal ranges but if you want it higher you can always use a capo or play it in C.

Guitar Chords to “White Christmas,” Key of G Major

G                     Am     D

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

C                           D7         G
Just like the ones I used to know,
G7                         Cm

Where the treetops glisten and children listen

G     Am                       D7     D
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

G                     Am     D

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

C                                   D7         G
With every Christmas card I write.

G7           Cm
May your days be merry and bright,

G            Em C             D7     G
And may all your Christmases be white.

Instructional Videos That Teach You How to Play “White Christmas” on Guitar

And here are some personal favourite instructional videos for “White Christmas.”

Here’s the basic:

This one’s basic, too, but gives a great closeup of the chords as they’re being played.

2. Jingle Bells

5-wonderful-christmas-songs-on-guitar-and-how-to-play-themJames Pierpont didn’t intend for “Jingle Bells”— or “One Horse Open Sleigh,” as he called it— to be a Christmas song, but nonetheless it has managed to work its way into the canon. It remains a huge favourite to this day and has been translated into many languages.

“Jingle Bells” was actually the first song broadcast from outer space. Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sent the following message from Gemini 6 to Mission Control: “Gemini VII, this is Gemini VI. We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, up in a polar orbit. He’s in a very low trajectory traveling from north to south and has a very high climbing ratio . . . One of them then played “Jingle Bells” on a harmonica while the other one jingled a set of sleigh bells.

Gotta love an astronaut with a sense of humour.

Guitar Chords for “Jingle Bells,” Key of C Major

This song is usually played in C, the first key most of you learned when you started playing. Here are the basic chords for the first verse and chorus:

C                                             F

Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh,

G7                                     C

O’er the fields we go, laughing all the way.

C                                     F

Bells on bobtails ring, making spirits bright.

G7                                              C

What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight, oh,

Chorus:

C                                         C7

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,

F             C               D7             G7

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hey,

C                                         C7

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,

F             C               G7             C

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.

Instructional Videos That Teach You How to Play “Jingle Bells” on Guitar

And here’s someone who can walk you through it:

And here’s our gal Jen Trani at Mahalo:

Watch ’em all and come up with your own unique version. Remember: your guitar, your own unique style. Don’t compete with anyone but yourself!

3. Little Saint Nick

5-wonderful-christmas-songs-on-guitar-and-how-to-play-themOur next Christmas song is a little trickier than just chords, but a heck a lot of fun to play once you learn it. There’s a riff involved— not a hard one, but a riff nonetheless. If you’re a beginner, feel free to skip the riff and just learn the chords for now. The riff will still be waiting when you’re ready for it (if you’re curious you can see it played in one of the videos below).

This song comes from the hedonistic west coast band the Beach Boys and is one of the cutest little ditties ever written. If you know the song “Little Deuce Coup” by the same band you’ll hear the similarities in the two songs. Band member Mike Love helped cowrite “Little Saint Nick” with Brian Wilson but didn’t get credit for it until after he launched a lawsuit in the 1990s. But don’t let that spoil the song for you! It’s very popular, and a rewarding song to learn how to play.

Guitar Chords for “Little Saint Nick,” Key of G Major

Am7   D7                      Am7     D7

Well, away up north where the air gets cold there is a

G         Gmaj7             G6       E7

tale about Christmas that you all been told, and

Am7         D7             Am7

a real famous cat all dressed up in red, and he

G               Gmaj7       G6         G7           C

spends his whole year working out in his sled. It’s the little Saint Nick,

G

It’s the little Saint Nick.

Am7       D7             Am7          D7

Just a little bobsled— we call it Old Saint Nick, but she’ll

G           Gmaj7     G6       E7

walk a toboggan with a four speed stick. She’s

Am7         D7         Am7                 D7

candy apple red with a ski stick for a wheel, and when

G             Gmaj7       G6       G7

Santa gives it gas, man just watch her peel. It’s the

C                 G

little Saint Nick, it’s the little Saint Nick . . .

Instructional Videos That Teach You How to Play “Little Saint Nick” on Guitar

This guy teaches the riff using a capo and some nice alternative chords:

4. The Christmas Song

5-wonderful-christmas-songs-on-guitar-and-how-to-play-them
Nat King Cole

Now let’s get mellow. You probably know this song by one of its other names, like “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” or “Merry Christmas to You.” Nothing expresses a warmer Christmas blessing than this beautiful song written in 1945 by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé.

If you find it ironic that “White Christmas” was written in a hotel in southern California, you’ll also be surprised to learn that “The Christmas Song” was written during the hellish temperatures of high summer. The song began with notes Bob Wells made of a series of images meant to help him escape, if only in his imagination, the intolerable heat. Mel Tormé liked the lines he saw in the notes, and the rest is history.

Nat King Cole’s first recording of the song didn’t take off. But later on he asked to record it with a small string orchesta, and it was this orchestral version that quickly became a major hit.

Guitar Chords for “The Christmas Song,” Key of C Major

C         Dm6           Em             Am

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,

C       C6         C7     Fmaj       E7

Jack Frost nipping on your nose,

Am       Fm           C         B7

Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,

Emaj7         Bb     G       G7         C

And folks dressed up like Eskimos, everybody knows

C Dm6           Em       Am

A turkey and some mistletoe,

C       C6     C7     Fmaj7   E7

Help to make the season bright.

Am   Fm             C           B7

Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow

Em     Am     Dm6 G C

Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

C7             Gm   C       F Am7

They know that Santa’s on his way;

Gm               C            F   Am7

He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.

Fm           Bb           Eb B

And every mother’s child is going to spy,

D7             Fm6         G     G7

To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

C     Dm6           Em                 Am

And so I’m offering this simple phrase,

C       C6     C7 F       E7

To kids from one to ninety-two,

Am               Fm       C           B7

Although its been said many times, many ways,

E7 Fm G   Dm6 C

Merry Christmas to you.

Instructional Videos That Teach You How to Play “The Christmas Song” on Guitar

Julie Meyer on Mahalo hasn’t forgotten this classic, and she offers us this clear basic lesson:

Here’s a more advanced jazz version that plays along with Nat King Cole’s definitive recording:

5. Feliz Navidad

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José Feliciano, the Puerto Rican who composed “Feliz Navidad”

Yes, one of the top Christmas songs in the English-speaking world is bilingual— in Spanish and English. And who doesn’t absolutely adore this song? Written in 1970 by José Feliciano, the song always reminds me of the Mexican exchange student who took our sleepy Canadian village by storm one winter, insisting on repeatedly beeping the horn of every car she was in (“A beeping car is a happy car!” she would say). It was she who explained the Spanish verse to us, literally, word for word.

Guitar Chords for “Feliz Navidad,” Key of D Major

Em7 A7           D
Feliz Navidad, feliz Navidad
Em7              A7                D
Feliz Navidad, prospero año y felicidad
Em7 A7           D
Feliz Navidad, feliz Navidad
Em7              A7                D
Feliz Navidad, prospero año y felicidad
G                         A7
I wanna wish you a merry Christmas
D
I wanna wish you a merry Christmas
G                                       A7                     D
I wanna wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart
G                         A7
I wanna wish you a merry Christmas
D
I wanna wish you a merry Christmas
G                                       A7                     D G D
I wanna wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart

And here’s a video of the composer himself teaching you how to play it! (Try to keep up!)

We sincerely hope you enjoy learning these songs. Happy Holidays from all of us at Uberchord! We wish you peace, joy, love, and amazing progress on your guitar!