12 Of The All-Time Greatest Original Country Christmas Songs

(Left) Brenda Lee / Facebook / (Center) Terry Wyatt / FilmMagic / Getty Images / (Right) CMT / Facebook

Many Beloved Holiday Tunes Started Out As Original Country Songs

While most Christmas songs have been around for years (and often decades…or centuries!) they all had to originate from somewhere. As it turns out, many beloved holiday classics have their roots in country music.

Today, we’re listing 12 of the all-time greatest original country Christmas songs. But first, allow us to explain our criteria.

Country Christmas vibes
Jacob Thorson on Unsplash

By original, we mean that a country artist must have been the first one to record a given song. For example, while Luke Bryan released a charting version of “Run Rudolph Run,” that song was originally recorded by rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry. Therefore, Luke’s version of the song does not qualify for this list.

Furthermore, we’re only including the true original versions of a given song. As another example, “Blue Christmas” is an original country Christmas tune. But it was first recorded by Doye O’Dell, then Ernest Tubb, and a number of other artists. Sorry folks, Elvis Presley‘s iconic version of “Blue Christmas” is not original, and isn’t in this list.

And one final note…of course this list doesn’t contain every amazing original country Christmas tune. But we thought we’d include 12 of them here, as a “12 Days of Christmas” list, country music style! 

“Let It Be Christmas” By Alan Jackson

“Let It Be Christmas” served as the title track of Alan Jackson‘s second Christmas album, which was released in 2002. It was one of two original songs Jackson wrote for the record.

The song reached the 23rd spot on the Hot Country Songs chart the year of its release.

“Christmas In Dixie” By Alabama

Alabama‘s “Christmas in Dixie” was written by band members Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, and Randy Owen. It was first released as a single in 1982, and appeared on the RCA Nashville compilation album A Country Christmas.

The band later included the song on their first Christmas album, Alabama Christmas, in 1985. 

“Christmas in Dixie” has charted multiple times through the years. Its peak position on the Hot Country Singles chart was #35, between the years of 1982-1983.

“Where Are You Christmas?” By Faith Hill

“Where Are You Christmas?” was originally meant to be Mariah Carey’s song. Carey co-wrote the track with James Horner and Will Jennings for the 2000 movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

But due to a legal case with her ex-husband, who was the CEO of Sony Music, Carey could not release her recording. So the song was given to country star Faith Hill instead.

“Where Are You Christmas?” is now one of the most frequently played and highest-selling Christmas songs of all time. It continually reappears on the charts, having peaked as high as #26 on the Hot Country Songs chart and #10 on the all-genre Hot 100.

“Christmas Cookies” By George Strait

Aaron Barker wrote the original country Christmas song “Christmas Cookies.” George Strait was the first to record it, and it was featured on the album A Country Christmas 1999.

The fun and catchy song peaked at the 33rd spot on the Hot Country Songs chart. People still love singing along to it every holiday season!

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” By Gene Autry

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is one of the most beloved Christmas songs of all time. It was written by Johnny Marks, and was based on the 1939 story of the same name.

“Rudolph” has been covered by dozens of artists over the years. But the original recording came from “The Singing Cowboy,” Gene Autry.

Autry took the song to the #1 spot on both the country and pop charts. His recording of “Rudolph” has continued to chart in the 2020s, over 70 years after its release.

It’s worth noting that Autry is also the original artist behind two other Christmas classics, “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

“Pretty Paper” By Willie Nelson

We’re bending our own criteria just a bit to feature this song.

Willie Nelson wrote “Pretty Paper” in 1963. He first pitched the song to producer Fred Foster, who then pitched the song to Roy Orbison. Orbison was more so known as a rock artist, but did have the ability to cross over into country.

While Orbison’s original version was not explicitly country, Nelson’s definitely was. He followed up with his own recording in 1964, solidifying “Pretty Paper” as a well-known country Christmas song.

Since then, “Pretty Paper” has been recorded by a number of other country stars.

“You Make It Feel Like Christmas” By Gwen Stefani & Blake Shelton

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton‘s romantic holiday duet is the newest song featured in this list. It was released in 2017 off of Stefani’s album of the same name. Shelton and Stefani co-wrote “You Make It Feel Like Christmas” with Justin Tranter and busbee.

While the song is technically labeled as pop, Shelton gives it a sprinkle of country style.

“You Make It Feel Like Christmas” appeared on charts throughout the world. Within the U.S., it has reached the 9th spot on the Adult Contemporary chart and the 36th spot on the all-genre Hot 100. The song has reentered the charts every year since its release.

“Hard Candy Christmas” By Dolly Parton

“Hard Candy Christmas” was written by Carol Hall for the stage musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The musical was adapted into a film in 1982.

Dolly Parton played Miss Mona in the movie, and performed “Hard Candy Christmas” during one scene. She also recorded the song for the film’s official soundtrack.

“Hard Candy Christmas” reached the #8 spot on the Country Singles chart in January 1983. RCA later added the song to the 1997 reissue of Parton and Kenny Rogers‘ holiday album, Once Upon a Christmas.

“All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Good Tan” By Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney fully embraced his beach-loving lifestyle through his 2003 Christmas album, All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan. The album is mostly comprised of covers (including a renditions of Alabama’s “Christmas in Dixie” and Nelson’s “Pretty Paper”).

One of the original songs is the title track, which was written by Paul Overstreet. It reached the 30th position on the Country Airplay charts after its release.

“If We Make It Through December” By Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard‘s “If We Make It Through December” does have a Christmas theme, but is much more than just a Christmas song. Haggard wrote the track, and first released it on his 1973 album Merle Haggard’s Christmas Present. The song later served as the title track of another album Haggard released a few months later.

“If We Make It Through December” reached the #1 spot on the Hot Country Songs chart and also crossed over to claim the 28th spot on the all-genre Hot 100.

“There’s A New Kid In Town” By Keith Whitley (& Alan Jackson)

Keith Whitley co-wrote “There’s a New Kid in Town” with Don Cook and Curly Putman. He was the first one to record the song, but a later version (still featuring his vocals), is most well-known.

Alan Jackson eventually recorded “There’s a New Kid in Town” as a duet with Whitley. Their collaboration appeared on Jackson’s 1993 Christmas album, Honky Tonk Christmas. It was released four years after Whitley passed away in 1989.

The song is now one of the most beloved Christmas tunes out there, and has been covered countless times.

“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” By Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee was only 13 years old when she became the first artist to record the Johnny Marks-penned “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The original recording was released in 1958, but wasn’t an immediate success.

It finally took off in 1960. The tune appeared on the Hot 100 for the first time that year, and peaked at the 14th position. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” continues to enter the chart each holiday season, climbing as high as the #2 spot in 2019-2022.

This year (2023) is the 65th anniversary of the song’s release. To celebrate, Lee shared a new music video to accompany the song, which is her first music video EVER. Trisha Yearwood and Tanya Tucker also make an appearance in the festive clip. Enjoy it below.

Which one of the country Christmas songs featured in this list is your favorite?