Holiday Songs for When Holiday Songs are too Much


I love December (it is my birthday month therefore it is the best month of the year) and I love the winter (I grew up in New York, so I enjoy the cold), but I don’t always love things that are very outwardly Christmas-y. That’s not to say I don’t like the holiday season, because I love it, I was born in the middle of it. I like the way that it makes me feel, but I don’t like it. One of the things that rubs me the absolute wrong way is Christmas music. So, I tried to gather some songs that make me feel like Christmas (or whichever winter holiday you may celebrate) and snow and cold and dark blue. 

Look, I know it’s not really “The Holidays” yet, because for some reason that ambiguous and pointless phrase actually designates a certain time period. Still, I don’t care because it’s cold outside and Thanksgiving is a holiday, so I’m saying that this weird timeframe that feels like another universe where you don’t know what day it is, starts now. Either way, though, this playlist might better encapsulate the feeling of December or winter or just the cold? 

The first track on the list is “Our House” by Madness. This is what I think the fireplace sounds like when you’re watching a funny movie with your family, all sat on the same couch for no particular reason. It’s cold outside, really cold, but it can’t touch you. The next track is a much different speed, Harry Styles’ “Meet Me in the Hallway”. This song is gingerbread; it is light brown and a light breeze made when you walk a little too fast in the kitchen to check the oven. It’s a little spicy, and it’s warm. Later that night, sometime in late December, maybe Christmas Eve, you’re the only one awake in the house when you know you should be asleep. That’s “Stupid Deep – Acoustic” by Jon Bellion. It’s dark and still in the hallway outside your bedroom when you step out to brush your teeth at 2:30 am before falling asleep, but you know the wind outside is even louder than the music. The next track is the next morning. “Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend is opening your presents; it’s piling your gifts next to your spot on the floor, throwing the wrapping paper into the garbage bag your dad insists on having ready at all times, laughing when your brother knows exactly what inside joke your gift to him is referencing. It’s bouncy and chaotic but it’s family.

“Put A Little Love On Me” is a Saturday in December. Niall Horan paints the frost onto the corners of each windowpane and pours you a cup of hot chocolate. He might even cover you in one of those blankets with the tassels around the edge. You can just sit and watch nothing out the window, and it’s perfect. “Flake” by Jack Johnson plays while packing the car to go to see your extended family, specifically the side where your cousins are closest to your age. It’s this warm golden color and the feeling of picking up where you left off with people you rarely see. As a perfect contrast, you travel to visit the other side of the family with “Ange” by FINNEAS. These cousins, though, are so much older than you that you are only just now old enough to get to know them properly. It’s the softness of being the kid in the family who isn’t included in the conversations because people just aren’t used to asking; it’s not malicious or exclusive in any way. It’s actually quite peaceful, because you can just observe and absorb the song. The next track is my favorite feeling in the world. It’s, like, a Thursday night, 10pm, dark, really cold but it doesn’t bite. You stand outside on a quiet street with only the sound of streetlights and “Wait” by M83.

The last two tracks kind of embody the same feeling, which is quiet snow. The first of the two is “Irresistible” by One Direction. For people who have never seen snow or didn’t grow up where it snows in October, I want to emphasize that there are different kinds of “snows”. For example, there’s the kind that doesn’t stick and is gone as soon as it hits the ground, and the kind that turns gray on the road when everyone drives through it. But no, “Irresistible” is the perfect, white, even flurries that fall when you have nothing to do but watch them in silence. It’s like the little extra bit of snow that falls as a treat after the schools have already cancelled for the day.

Finally, the last track is specifically that exact hushed and tranquil snowfall, but it falls on Christmas morning. It’s also going to do your holiday traditions with your best friends, or it’s seeing your kid neighbors (that are usually the bane of your existence) play in their little snowsuits outside, cheeks red and smiles big. “come out and play” by Billie Eilish captures the kind of moments that even the Scrooge’s of the world enjoy during the glorious month of December. It’s soft hugs from people who usually aren’t huggers and thoughtful gifts from people who you thought didn’t always pay attention. Basically, it is the perfect piece of evidence that proves you don’t need Christmas music to have good music on Christmas.


1. Our House by Madness

2. Meet Me in the Hallway by Harry Styles

3. Stupid Deep – Acoustic by Jon Bellion

4. Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend

5. Put A Little Love On Me by Niall Horan

6. Flake by Jack Johnson

7. Angel by FINNEAS

8. Wait by M83

9. Irresistible by One Direction

10. come out and play by Billie Eilish

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