The 20 greatest country Christmas songs of all time, ranked

15 December 2023, 11:19

Country Christmas songs
Picture: Getty/Capitol/Warner Bros

By Tom Eames

The unwritten law in music states that if you're a country artist, you have to record a Christmas album at least once in your career.

There's something strangely magical that occurs when you cross Christmas music with a country twang. It's almost as if Christmas songs were meant to be performed by the folks down in Nashville.

To celebrate the most wonderful time of the year, we've collected 20 of our very favourite country Christmas songs to make for a perfect festive playlist:

  1. Brooks & Dunn - Winter Wonderland

    Brooks & Dunn - Winter Wonderland (Yule Log Version)

    Everyone's given 'Winter Wonderland' a crack, but if you're wanting the most country-fied version, look no further than these lads.

    This was recorded for the duo's 2002 festive album It Won't Be Christmas Without You.

  2. Darius Rucker - Let It Snow

    Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

    OK, Darius Rucker's 2014 album Home for the Holidays might be on the cheesy side of country Christmas, but we could sing the dictionary and we'd be up for it.

    Our favourite from the album is this fun version of 'Let It Snow' that always puts a smile on our face.

  3. Dolly Parton - Hard Candy Christmas

    Dolly Parton - Hard Candy Christmas (Audio)

    Dolly recorded this moving ballad for her film The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas in 1982.

    The song was later included in a re-issue of her Christmas album with best pal Kenny Rogers.

  4. Reba McEntire - The Christmas Song

    The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)

    Reba's first Christmas album Merry Christmas To You is full of great festive tracks with a country-jazz sound.

    The best of the lot is this version of the Nat King Cole standard, which just makes us want to sit in front of the fire wrapping presents with some eggnog on the side.

  5. Rascal Flatts - I'll Be Home for Christmas

    Rascal Flatts - I'll Be Home For Christmas (Official Music Video)

    Rascal Flatts recorded three Christmas covers for a special edition release of their Greatest Hits album in 2008.

    One of them was this fantastic a cappella cover of the Bing Crosby standard. No frills, just three excellent voices in perfect harmony.

  6. Keith Urban - I'll Be Your Santa Tonight

    Keith Urban - I'll Be Your Santa Tonight (Official Music Video)

    In 2019, Keith Urban released his first ever original Christmas song, and it was an instant winner.

    The laid back feel-good Christmas love song shows off Keith's smooth style, and makes us hope he'll release a full festive album soon.

  7. Alan Jackson - Let It Be Christmas

    Alan Jackson - Let It Be Christmas (Official Yule Log - Christmas Songs)

    Alan Jackson recorded this as one of two original songs on his second Christmas album in 2002.

    It gave him a top 40 hit on both the country chart and main Billboard singles chart that year.

  8. Kenny Rogers - Carol of the Bells

    Carol Of The Bells

    Kenny Rogers. Singing 'Carol of the Bells'. What more do you want?

    Plus, just look at that album cover. Amazing on so many levels.

  9. Eagles - Please Come Home for Christmas

    Please Come Home for Christmas (2013 Remaster)

    Blues singer Charles Brown first recorded this song, but the Eagles later covered it in their classic country-rock style, and it remains a winner over 40 years later.

    Jon Bon Jovi also released a cover in the style of the Eagles in 1994, scoring a top 10 hit in the UK.

  10. Kacey Musgraves - Ribbons and Bows

    Ribbons And Bows

    Kacey Musgraves' 2016 release A Very Kacey Christmas is one of the best festive albums in recent years, and she has followed it up with a TV special in 2019.

    One of the album's best songs is this original track, which harks back to Christmas classics of old, in Kacey's excellent country-pop style.

  11. Tim McGraw - Dear Santa

    Dear Santa

    In 2018, Tim McGraw recorded this brilliant song for a Christmas compilation Winter Wonderland alongside other country artists.

    Can we have a full album, Tim?

  12. Taylor Swift - Christmases When You Were Mine

    Christmases When You Were Mine

    Back in 2007, Taylor Swift released her Christmas Collection EP, featuring a couple of covers and original songs.

    While we have a soft spot for her cover of 'Last Christmas', we love this heartbreaking ballad about a lost love the most.

  13. Brad Paisley - 364 Days to Go

    Brad Paisley- 364 Days To Go

    All of Brad Paisley's festive album, simply titled Christmas, is awesome.

    But one that stands out for us is this original ballad, which perfectly sums up that warm and tired feeling when Christmas Day winds down for another year.

  14. Lonestar - O Holy Night

    O Holy Night

    Lonestar's collection This Christmas Time is full of excellent country Christmas tunes.

    Our favourite is this version of the carol 'O Holy Night', which is transformed into pure country power ballad brilliance.

  15. Willie Nelson - Pretty Paper

    Pretty Paper - Willie Nelson

    Roy Orbison may have scored the most famous hit with this cute little Christmas song, but it was actually Willie Nelson who wrote it.

    Willie featured it on his own Christmas album of the same name a year later in 1964, and it's just a lovely two-and-a-half minutes.

  16. Lady A - All I Want for Christmas is You

    All I Want For Christmas Is You by Lady Antebellum (Album Cover) (HD)

    We'd argue that Lady A's On This Winter's Night is one of the best Christmas albums of all time, let alone country Christmas.

    There are so many tracks to choose from, but we love this stripped back cover of Mariah Carey's 1994 anthem.

  17. Elvis Presley - Blue Christmas

    Elvis Presley - Blue Christmas ('68 Comeback Special 50th Anniversary HD Remaster)

    Elvis recorded many Christmas songs in his career, but this one towers above the rest.

    It later became the blueprint for Mud's parody 'Lonely This Christmas', which was a Christmas number one for the band.

  18. Blake Shelton and Michael Bublé - Home

    Home - Blake Shelton & Michael Bublé [lyrics](live on Michael Bublé : Home for the Holidays 2012)

    Inspired! In 2008, Blake Shelton released a country cover of Michael Bublé's ballad 'Home'.

    After performing the song together over the years, Blake e-mailed Michael, asking if he would write new lyrics for a Christmas version and sing duet vocals on it. This version was later included on Blake's 2012 album, Cheers, It's Christmas.

  19. Bobby Helms - Jingle Bell Rock

    Jingle Bell Rock

    One of the most famous Christmas pop songs of all time, this rock and roll/country hybrid wasn't a massive hit at the time in 1957, but it has since become a favourite over 60 years later.

    Hall & Oates later scored a surprise hit with their homage cover in 1982.

  20. Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

    Rockin Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee - HD Audio

    This song has become such a classic, that it's easy to forget its country leanings.

    Brenda Lee was only 13 when she recorded the song, which has gone on to become one of the most successful Christmas songs of all time.

    While the song itself has a rock and roll vibe, its instruments - particularly the guitar work of Hank Garland and Harold Bradley - also mark it out as a country Christmas standard.