Opening Presents: Various Artists - A Very Special Christmas
The Very Special Christmas albums will get you pumped for your morning of open gifts! All of the albums in this series are great, but I grew up with Vol. 1 and 2, so I'm preferential to those, of course. I seriously didn't even realize these weren't the traditional versions of each of these songs until I was about fourteen. Rock on, Mom and Dad. Listen here (and here).
Runner Up: Disney - A Family Christmas - Listen here.
Getting Prepared for the Day: Sufjan Stevens - Songs for Christmas
While you're cleaning up wrapping paper, enjoying time with your family, and cooking for incoming guests, have a listen to Songs for Christmas. This is a quiet, beautiful collection of songs that capture all the moods of the holidays, including the ones we don't love talking about: sadness, nostalgia, anxiety. It's so good (like all of Sufjan's albums) that sometimes I even listen to it when it's not Christmas. Listen here.
Runner Up: Annie Lennox - A Christmas Cornucopia - Listen here.
Cocktail Hour: Various Artists - Holidays Rule
Once your guests arrive, it's time to throw on Holidays Rule while you nosh on appetizers and start in on the eggnog. For an album that was, I think, produced entirely by Starbucks (true/false, music lovers?), this is seriously good stuff. It has A LOT of bands I really like (Rufus Wainwright, She & Him, The Head and the Heart, The Shins, I could keep going...) and the songs are, like Sufjan's above, legitmately great. It's also the perfect thing to loosen you up during cocktail hour without being overpoweringly Christmas-y. Listen here.
Runner Up: Barenaked Ladies - Barenaked for the Holidays (mostly for their version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen with Sarah McLachlan) - Listen here.
Dinner and Dessert: Berlin Symphony Orchestra - The Nutcracker Highlights
As you meander into the dining room, pop on the Nutcracker Suite, which features beautiful holiday classics that allow for a festive spirit and conversation. I'm pretty sure this is the Nutcracker Suite album that we have, but I bet any version would be equally lovely and majestic. Listen here.
Runner up: Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas - Listen here.
Post-dinner Card Game: Various Artists - This Warm December
After dinner, turn on something relaxing and cozy with This Warm December. I just heard this one for the first time last month, but I'm really loving it. It has a sort of laid back, warm Christmas feel to it, much like all the artists of Brushfire Records. It's how I imagine Christmas on a tropical island feels. Listen here.
Runner Up: Bing Crosby - White Christmas - Listen here.
Happy holidays, everyone! Have a wonderful Christmas eve tomorrow!