40 Easy Christmas Songs On Guitar

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, note quite yet, but there’s no harm in preparing a little early! Because once Christmas rolls around there’ll be no escaping from all of those classic Christmas jingles that will be played in every shopping mall and television advertisement during that period.

This isn’t actually a bad thing, there are a lot of classic tracks out there which are a lot of fun to play along with on the guitar. So rather than try to avoid them, why not embrace them and learn a few yourself!

That’s why today we’ve gathered up 40 of our favorite Christmas songs that you can learn on guitar so you’re ready for this year’s family get together. We’ve even provided both video lessons and tablature to help you along the way!

Jingle Bells

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While there is no singular ‘official Christmas song’, this is about as close as it gets when it comes to just having 1 all-encompassing tune that everyone knows and perfectly captures that Christmas energy. While the original writing credit goes to James Lord Pierpoint from way back in 1857, there are almost yearly releases of this song from all manner of artists. Feel free to just pick whichever one takes your fancy!

One of the best things is that because there are so many renditions of this around, it can cater to whatever skill level you feel comfortable playing. The provided video tab details a fantastic more chordal rendition of the song, while the text tab shows a really easy single-note version that someone who’s only been playing the guitar for 15 minutes can learn!


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Meredith Wilson

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Another Christmas classic that has so many versions and renditions around it’s hard to know where to start. Of course, it was originally written by Meredith Wilson back in the early 1950s, but the Michael Bublé rendition is also very popular, with the official video sitting at nearly 100 million views on youtube.

Regardless of what version you decide to learn, there are a lot of cool opportunities here to choose one that matches the energy you are in the mood for. For example, the Perry Como one has a more upbeat and cheerful vibe while the Michael Bublé one has a more laid bad and ballad kind of feel. Depending on which version you pick there’s also a lot of scope to be more or less involved on the guitar, with some renditions just needing some simple, laid-back strummed chords, while others need some quite involved strumming patterns and unique chord voicings.


White Christmas by Bing Crosby

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Another oldie from the ’50s that always conjures up that homely feel of Christmas time, when all your family are gathered around the fire. Although people generally think of the Bing Crosby version, this was actually written a little early in the 40s by Irving Berlin. But a fun fact about the Bing Crosby version is it’s actually the number 1 selling single of all time (for a physically produced product, iTunes doesn’t count!).

This is another track that, due to its numerous renditions and incarnations can range from just a super easy, beginner-level guitar arrangement where you are literally just playing the primary melody. To something more involved that has you playing both the chords and vocal melodies at the same time. So no matter your skill level there’s something for you here!


Joy to the world by Mariah Carey

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A classic Christmas tune that was often sung at primary school assemblies and became synonymous with that Christmas feel. Although it’s a really old song (originally composed back in 1719) these days it’s primarily known for the Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey versions. It’s based on the old Christian interpretation of Psalm 98 which was somewhat adjusted to have a bit more of a Christological leaning.

Regardless of which rendition you’re thinking of when you play this song, that iconic melody is always the same. So you can take on the role of rhythm if you want to sing at the same time, if not you can simply play that lead melody on the guitar and everyone’s still going to recognize what you are playing.


Last Christmas by Wham

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A fantastic Christmas song complete with jingle bells and George Michaels’s fantastic hair. Recorded and released back in 1984 and is one of the more recent Christmas classics that will resurface year after year. It has a great blend of synth-pop and new wave elements which provide a bit more of a modern feel against some of these oldies written nearly a century ago.

If you want to play along with the original song you’ll need a capo on the second fret of the guitar, otherwise you can just play it open (it will make it a little bit easier to sing along with too). You’ll only need 4 super easy chords here which are C, Am, Dm, and G which are all played using their regular open chord shapes.


Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano

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A really straightforward, to the point, and heartfelt song about simply wishing someone a merry Christmas. Which writer/singer Jose Feliciano wrote while feeling homesick during the Christmas period. Originally released in 1970, because of the timeless nature of the song it keeps re-entering the charts, managing to hit the Billboard Hot 100 as recently as 2018.

Depending on how involved you want the guitar parts to be, and if you want to sing or have the vocal melodies be incorporated into the guitar, there are a few different versions available. The provided video lesson details a super easy rendition that only needs some simple open chords, while the tablature details an all-encompassing fingerpicked version.


Silent Night by Cyndi Lauper

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This is a pretty old Christ carol that, while originally written in 1818 by German composer Franz Xaver Gruber, has transcended that original version to become simply a cultural part of Christmas. This track, in particular, would often be sung by ‘carollers’ who will go from home to home and sing some traditional Christmas songs for the residents. 

It has a really simple melody and an even simpler chord progression to accompany it. This, combined with the fact it’s usually played at an incredibly slow tempo means you shouldn’t have any problem incorporating both the chords and primary vocal melody into a single guitar arrangement. The chords you’ll be outlining here are G, D7, C, Em, and a regular D.


We Wish You a Merry Christmas by The Irish Rovers

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A classic English Christmas Carol, while originally written by organ player Arthur Warrell sometime in the early 1900s, has been covered, reworked, and messed around with a tremendous amount of times. With arrangements that switch up lyrics, tempos, and instrumentation. But through all these versions that primarily vocal melody stays the same, and it’s so iconic that after singing just a single line everyone’s going to know what song you are playing.

While there are more complicated fingerpicking arrangements available for this song, we encourage you to just simply play the chords and sing the melody over it. It’s so simple and played at such a comfortable tempo it’s oftentimes better just to relax and have fun with it rather than trying to get fancy with the guitar work.


The First Noel by Frank Sinatra

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Another traditional English Christmas Carol. While it’s not clear exactly when it was written, we do know it was first published in the 1823 book ‘Carols Ancient and Modern’. The word Noel comes from the French meaning of ‘the Christmas season’. Although the title mentions the Frank Sinatra version (you’ve got to love that voice), this has been covered by many notable artists including Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and more recently by the pop-acapella group Pentatonix.

This track is primarily driven by the vocal melodies and as such the guitar parts are super simple. You can play the whole thing just using the 4 easy chords F, C, G7, and Em using their regular open positions. Freeing you up to focus a little more on the singing.


Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town by Bruce Springsteen

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This is a song that’s always guaranteed to bring some Christmas spirit to the party, and not just because of its joyful and upbeat vibe. Once you start hearing this song on television commercials, you know it’s Christmas time! Originally written back in the 1930s, we probably know it more for the various versions performed by the likes of The Jackson 5, Bruce Springsteen, and Mariah Carey.

No matter which version you want to play along to, the arrangement is generally the same. Using the chords G, C, Em, Am, D7, A7, and a regular D, it might sound like there is a huge amount of chordal movement here but in fact, as you get more familiar with the song and you look at it more from a singing perspective. Each section of the song will make a lot more sense and you’ll have no trouble navigating these chords even as a beginner.


Rockin’ Around the Christmas tree by Brenda Lee

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If you’re anything like me and enjoy a good Christmas movie, this is no doubt going to remind you of Kevin McCalister running around the house and fending off burglars. The song was written by Johnny Marks who’s responsible for a number of classic Christmas/Holiday tunes. But it was recorded by Brenda Lee, and despite the track being covered by a huge number of notable musicians, Brenda’s voice is really synonymous with the song. Her version in particular is the 4th most downloaded of any Christmas song ever!

Although there are some nice little electric guitar parts going on here, for acoustic you can just play (as simple major/minor barre chords) Ab, Fm, Db, Eb, and each chord is played for 1 bar each.


All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey

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You’ll often hear people joke about how much they are dreading this song as the festive season approaches, not because they dislike the song or anything. It’s the fact this gets played absolutely everywhere! You cannot escape it. It’s Broken all kinds of records, and in the UK specifically, it’s the most played Christmas song of the decade. These days it sits right alongside Jingle Bells as a quintessential and classic Christmas song.

Compositionally this one is a little bit more involved than some of the others. While it does have that signature catchy sing-along quality to it, the chord progression uses some cool variations and seventh chords. You can essentially divide it up into 3 sequences, the first is G, G/B, C, Cm, the second is G, B7, Em, Cm, and finally G, E7, Am7, and D7.


Happy Xmas by John Lennon

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Also called ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over), and if you’re a fan of Oasis you’ll notice a lot of their sound in this as Johns’s style was a huge influence on Noel Gallagher. It was released as a single in 1971 from the John & Yoko Ono project. It sometimes has ‘War Is Over’ placed in brackets with the title as aside from being a Christmas song it’s also a protest against the war in Vietnam, of which both John and Yoko were outspoken about being against.

A nice and simple one, you’ll just need to play some easy open chords. The way you can approach them in this song is you’re basically strumming a chord while your pinky finger will move around for a few notes creating a melody. Then the entire chord will change and you’ll continue playing the melody with your pinky.


A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burt Ives

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Sometimes called ‘Have a Holly Jolly Christmas’. It was originally written by Johnny Marks, but by far the most popular version is by Burt Ive. It was released in 1964 from the album of the same name and has gone on to become a quintessential Christmas song, charting the world over and spawning cover versions from prolific artists such as Michael Buble and Jerrod Niemann.

This is a great song to learn if you want to sing and play guitar at the same time. It has a fairly consistent strumming pattern that doesn’t require much concentration, and on top of that, all the chords are super easy to hold. But if you do want to get fancy with it there’s plenty of room for little embellishments to add some extra spice.


Away in a Manger by Casting Crowns

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Another song that you’ve probably already experienced singing at a school assembly once or twice. It’s a classic carol that has its roots back in the early 1800s when it was published for the first time. The exact origins are unknown, with some claiming it to be of German descent while others say it’s American. There are enough renditions around now to where it doesn’t matter as the basic lyrics/arrangement of the song remain quite consistent throughout.

Depending on what kind of style you’re looking for, there is a strummed/chordal version using the simple strumming pattern d-D-D-u which is very comfortable to sing over. Alternatively in the provided tablature, there is a finger-picked rhythmic version, or if you are a very beginner you can play the vocal melody as single notes on your high strings.


Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley

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While this song certainly owes thanks to Elvis for its popularisation, he injected a huge amount of his style and persona into the track which is one of the biggest reasons why it became so popular. Elivs’ rendition was released in 1964 from his dedicated Christmas album creatively titled ‘Elvis’ Christmas Album’. But the original version actually came out in 1948 and was recorded by Doye O’Dell. 

There are quite a few extended chords, so if you’re not already familiar with things like 7ths and diminished chords, now is a great opportunity to learn! The primary chord progress for the song is E, B7, E7, A, F sharp, D, A7, D7, and G. So if you just learn the standard chord shapes, and then how to find the seventh you’ll be good to go!


Christmas Time by Bryan Adams

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Now a song that was actually written by the performer who made it famous! This was released as a pure solo promotional single for the album simply titled ‘Christmas Time’. He’s done a few of these now but this one is by far the most popular. Originally it also didn’t have any accompanying music video, but due to it being so consistently played year after year he decided to make a video to put on YouTube, over 30 years after its original release in 1985!

Nothing too fancy going on here either, there’s just a simple d-dud strumming pattern happening as you move through the chord progression, which is all regular open chords you’ll no doubt already be familiar with.


Driving Home for Christmas by Chris Rea

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Written with the intention of being a ‘car version of a Christmas carol’ after Chris was driving home during the Christmas period and noticed everyone looked miserable in their cars, which prompted him to write the song. When they played at the Hammersmith Odeon they coated the stands with 3 feet of artificial snow which the venue charged them £12,000 to clean up. Many Brits will also recognize the song for its prevalent use in Iceland supermarket commercials.

This is a great song to learn if you’re a beginner as you only need 4 easy chords which are G, C, D, and Em. There are a lot of interesting voicing being used such as 7’s and 9’s, but you can just play them using their regular open shapes too!


Frosty The Snowman

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So this was first recorded by Gene Autry who, in the year prior, had seen a tremendous amount of success for her version of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’. And she was looking for a new song that could have a similar kind of impact. So after the Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson wrote this they offered it to her and as you might already know, it went on to be yet another cultural Christmas classic that spawned numerous books and even a short movie.

The song has been adapted to various tempos and feels over the years, but the general vibe and arrangement of the song usually stay consistent. Depending on what you want to play you can either play the chordal backing or if you want something easier you can just play along to the catchy vocal melody using singe-notes.


Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms

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Oftentimes with Christmas songs and carols, we find ourselves on the acoustic guitar strumming some simple chords, well this is a great opportunity to pull out the electric guitar and jam some rock and roll! Originally released in 1957 to great commercial success despite there being some drama over ownership of the song.

During the verse, you’ll just be bouncing between the C and G chords with the D coming in at the end. And then as it progresses we’ll also introduce Em, Am, and even a nice Bm chord which you’ll need to barre.


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow by Frank Sinatra

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While the song was originally composed by Jule Styne (with lyrics from Sammy Cahn) back in 1945, you probably know this for the Frank Sinatra version released in 1950 which was another Chrismassy track from his ‘Christmas Songs by Sinatra’ album. Although the lyrics don’t directly reference Christmas at all, our intrinsic association between snow and Christmas led the song to become regarded as a Christmas Holiday track.

In typical Sinatra fashion there’s some cool guitar stuff going on here with great chordal movement and progressions, but is still something a beginner should be able to tackle without much issue. The main point of difficulty will just be the speed at which the actual chords change, so don’t be afraid to slow it down a bit while you program the progression into your brain.


Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade

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It’s so great that we can get Noddy Holder’s unique voice into a classic Christmas song. This was particularly popular in the UK and was their last number 1 single in the UK which topped the Christmas charts. Originally released in 1973, it has since been re-released every single year since then and as of 2012 has sold over 1.32 million copies. It’s a wonderful track to learn if you’re looking for something with a little more edge to it than a regular Christmas ballad, this one is upbeat and high energy.

We’ll be using somewhat of a shuffle style rhythm with a strumming pattern D-UD-UD-UD with the gap in between each UD being left a little longer which is what gives it that shuffling feeling.


O Little Town of Bethlehem by Garth Brooks

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So this is based on original texts written in the mid-1800s by Phillips Brooks and became popular for its use in both the UK and the US, but set to different pieces of music. With the UK version setting this text to ‘Forest Green’ by Ralph Williams and the US setting it to ‘St Louis’ by Lewis Redner. We are referring here to the St Louis version as that’s the most popular/commonly used.

We’ll be using the strumming pattern D-d-D-ud where the capitalized D’s are accented notes, so keep an eye on those dynamics as they add a lot of feel to the song. One thing that makes the guitar parts need a little bit of focus is that the chords don’t just receive 1 bar of music each, some might be played for 2, 1, or even half a bar each.


Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

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Many people think the various movies and stories have spawned as a result of this song, but in fact, the song was written about the very first book telling this story published in 1939 (whereas the song was released in 1949). Obviously, it’s transcended its link to that song and is just considered a classic and quintessential Christmas tune anyone can play or sing to in order to experience a little bit of that Christmas energy.

Because it is such a popular track there have been many versions and renditions created. So we have provided 2 versions, the tablature is more of a finger-picked version that also includes the main lyrical melody, and the video tab details a great chordal version that’s better to play if you also plan on singing along too.


Silver Bells by Bing Crosby

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A bit more of a laid-back and balladesque Christmas song, perfect for when you and your loved ones are huddled around the fire and your uncle starts trying to play Wonderwall so you have to quickly interject with something a little more Christmassy. This was first sung by William Frawley but generally speaking, the Bing Crosby version is the one we most commonly think about.

It’s super simple to play, only requiring 3 chords which are C, F, and G. It’s also in 3 or 6 (not to be confused with triplet timing, we’re still straight) so you will count this as ONE two three FOUR five six.


The Little Drummer Boy

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Another Christmas classic that you’ll very commonly see performed by choirs as well as Christmas carolers as they sing in the street. The song tells the story of a small boy who was summoned to the Nativity of Jesus (Jesus’s birth), and due to not having a gift for him he requested that he perform his drum instead. After getting approval from Mary he performed while Jesus smiled at him. I’d argue a piercingly loud snare drum is not the most soothing of instruments for a small child, but that’s just me.

Once again you have some choice here, it’s important the vocal melody is included in some capacity. So the provided video lesson details plain strummed chords if you also wanted to sing to it, or alternatively the tablature details a version in which that melody is worked into the guitar parts.


We Three Kings by George Strait

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This is a classic Christmas carol that was originally written in 1857 by John Henry Hopkins and details the 3 ‘Magi’ who visited Jesus after his birth to give him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In fact, there was never anything that specifically stated how many Magi came or even if they belonged to royalty, but because of how popular and well known this song is many people will just assume this is a direct recollection from the bible.

Despite being a popular Christmas carol (in fact, it was the first popular Christmas carol written in America) it has a very striking minor tonality to it. This makes it great for fingerpicking as you can incorporate the vocal melody into the guitar work to really get a sense of how it interacts with the chord changes.


What Child is This by Johnny Cash

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Here’s a song that if you don’t know by name, you’ve certainly heard the melody a few times while frequenting any kind of shopping mall as it blasts over the PA system. The song was written over a pre-written melody called ‘Greensleeves’, a traditional English folk song. It then had the Christmas themed lyrics put over the top in 1865 by William Chatterton and has since gone on to become a classic carol. Despite being written in the UK it’s particularly popular in America.

The melody here is super catchy and memorable and is also very easy to play on guitar where you get to hang out low down the fretboard playing within those first 5 frets.


Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney

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Time for something a (little) bit more modern, written in 1979 by Paul McCartney. It was released as a single, so not promoting any album, but was nevertheless recorded during his studio time for McCartney II where obviously a Christmas-themed song wouldn’t have been as appropriate for that album. It was reasonably successful, hitting the number 6 spot on the UK singles chart and even spawning a cover version from the Australian pop star Kylie Minogue.

The main challenge with this song comes from the fairly fast chordal movement once we’re past the intro. While the original uses an electric guitar which might be a little easier to play on, if you’re doing this on acoustic you’ll need to get good at changing from chord to chord accurately.


12 Days of Christmas by John Denver

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A popular song that recounts the 12 days of Christmas which many young children like to re-work the lyrics for into something more rude and crass, offering a great deal of versatility to the song. It’s a traditional English carol that dates back to the late 1700s and recounts the giving of increasingly numerous gifts on each of the 12 days of Christmas.

Obviously having originated in the 1700s there’s a ludicrous number of variations available to jam to for this. But they all essentially stick to the same chord pattern which is G, Am7,  D/F sharp 11, D. And you’ll hang out on that last D for the ‘and a partridge and a pear tree’ bit.


Deck the Halls by Debby Ryan

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Another traditional carol that can be dated all the way back to the sixteenth century (or at least the melody can). However, it wasn’t until 1862 that the English lyrics were written by Thomas Oliphant which we now tend to use over the Welsh ones. It’s gone on to become another quintessential song that you’ll see on everything from movies to radio, and television.

This was originally written as a vocal-driven piece and as such the guitar arrangement didn’t appear until many hundreds of years later. This means there is no ‘correct’ way to play it as it’s all just someone’s interpretation of an older song.  If you’re a beginner and need an easy place to start just use the chord progression D, G, Em, and A.


Carol of the bells

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This is a Christmas carol from the early 1900s and is very commonly performed by a choir using what is called counterpoint. Which is where there are multiple melodies happening at the same time and the choir would be split into different sections to handle the different parts. But these days it’s been arranged into many different genres from metal to pop, removing some of the ambiguity around what part the guitar should be playing.

The guitar generally handles the ‘ostinato’ which is essentially a short phrase or melody that just repeats over and over while the chordal movement happens around it. It’s a really effective composing technique that we don’t see used too often in Christmas carols.


I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard

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Next up we have a bit more of a rock-styled song from British rock band Wizzard, complete with loud drums and electric guitar! The song was released in 1973 as a single. It also has a fantastic accompanying music video in which the band is dressed up in Christmas-themed attire as they perform the song. They are also joined by a child choir who would also sometimes perform with them in a live setting.

So for the chordal parts here we just need to play D, Em, A, and then a G during the verse in their super simple open barre chord shapes. There are lots of cool little transitions and embellished that you and choose to play or not depending on your mood.


Baby It’s Cold Outside by Dean Martin

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This is another song that technically doesn’t ever actually reference Christmas directly, but it does have themes of winter which we associate with Christmas. It was originally written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, but it was really the Dean Martin version released over a decade later than made the song so well known and popular.

This uses a really slow strumming and calm strumming pattern making it perfect for a beginner to learn (especially if you’re singing to it at the same time). The chords used are C, G, C7, F, D, A.


I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Bing Crosby

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Although there was no artist who released the track before Bing Crosby, it was actually written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent who then handed the song to bing to record. It was written about the soldiers who were stationed away from home during the Christmas period. It’s now considered a quintessential Christmas song that has been covered by the likes of Elvis Presley and Kelly Clarkson

Unlike most of the tunes we’ve covered, this one is played using arpeggios, which means the chords are playing 1 note at a time instead of fully stumped. Fortunately, these arpeggios are very ‘linear’ and there’s not much jumping around the strings, so it’s definitely something a beginner can still tackle!


Winter Wonderland by Dean Martin

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One more song that doesn’t actually reference Christmas, but its references to winter and snow made everyone associate it with Christmas anyway to where it’s not just considered a classic track. So classic in fact it’s been covered by 200 separate artists.

Another great track to both sing and play to at the same time thanks to its relaxed and laid-back strumming pattern. The original song actually uses some quite interesting and uncommon (at least for Christmas songs) chord voicings. The provided video lesson details an easier to play this using more ‘regular’ chord shapes if you’re not up for getting too fancy with it!


It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Andy Williams

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While not written by Andy directly, he was the first to release it for his Christmas-themed album simply titled ‘The Andy Williams Christ Album’ released in 1963. The song is a simple, joyful celebration of all the great activities we partake in during the Christmas period. 

We’re playing this in 3/4 timing which we will count as ONE two three ONE two three, with a strumming pattern that simply hits a downstroke on the 1, 2, and 3 beats, super easy! The chords used are C, Am7, Dm, and G with each chord getting a strumming pattern, or bar of music each.


Christmas Time Is Here

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This is a very popular Christmas standard, and while it was originally written for the popular television special ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ it’s gone on to just be a widely used Christmas song, spawning covers from many notable artists including R.E.M, the Stone Temple Pilots. And it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t also mention the very popular Daniela Andrade version which has reached nearly 8 million views on YouTube.

This is one of the few songs listed that works incredibly well on electric guitar using a nice, bright, clean tone. You can voice the chords quite high up the neck and use some vibrato to give them this otherworldly melodic quality.


Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Dr. Elmo

24 Days of Christmas: How to Play "Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer" on Guitar

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So many of the songs we’ve included have themes of love, celebration, and togetherness. Now it’s time for a bit of fun with this novelty song from Dr. Elmo. Originally released in 1979 by Elmo and Patsy. The song details the story about a grandmother who had gotten drunk while out celebrating on Christmas Eve only to find herself outside in a  snowstorm, she is found the following day to have been trampled by Santa and his Reindeers.

There are a lot of chords used throughout this song, don’t worry too much about the voicings and those 7th notes, it’s just a fun song and those regular open shapes will more than suffice if you’re newer to the guitar.


O Holy Night

O Holy Night Guitar Tutorial 🎄 Christmas Guitar Lesson |No Capo + Fingerpicking|

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Finishing things off with this originally French Christmas carol that was then converted to English in 1847 by John Sullivan Dwight. It was first composed in Roquemaure,  Franche after the local church organ had been renovated. So the parish priest was able to persuade poet Placide Cappeaue to write a Christmas poem and shortly after Adolphe Adam wrote the music for it.

This is a finger-picked guitar piece, but as it’s super slow at only 70bpm it’s definitely something any beginner can try their hand out without too much worry. However, if you want to sing at the same time it might be easier to just strum the chords, the way to do this is detailed in the provided video lesson.

Liam Engl

UK born gear nerd that happens to play guitar. Began playing properly at the age of 12 after hearing Soilwork's Natural Born Chaos and deciding trying to sound like Peter Wichers was a respectable life goal. Full time guitar teacher and over the last decade has become involved in the audio/production side of things.

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