“Jingle Bells,” “White Christmas,” “Silent Night.” Listen carefully, and you’ll soon hear the sounds of the season. Many families have a tradition of listening to holiday music. Music enriches the meaning of the holiday in many ways. What traditional songs do you enjoy? What special memories do they evoke? Here are some suggestions to rekindle some holiday music nostalgia.

  • Name familiar places where you hear sounds of the holiday season. (Examples: car radio, home, mall/ stores, church, concert hall, neighborhood caroling) Ask: When do you like to begin to listen to holiday tunes? What’s your favorite yuletide song? Name some holiday songs you enjoyed as a child. Are they still meaningful to you?
  • Give your group members the name of a holiday activity, and ask them to name a song that comes to mind. (Examples: decorating the house — “Deck the Halls”; exchanging gifts — “The Twelve Days of Christmas”; trimming the tree — “O Christmas Tree”)
  • Listen to vintage Christmas songs from a particular decade – for example, the 1940s. (Suggestions: “White Christmas”/Bing Crosby, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”/Judy Garland, “The Christmas Song”/Nat King Cole)
  • Examine the story behind favorite carols and hymns. (Look at the local library for a book on the history of carols.) Reminisce about caroling in your neighborhood. Sip hot chocolate.
  • Enjoy Perry Como’s rendition of “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.” Describe what Christmas looked like in your home and neighborhood in the 1950s. (Remember aluminum trees and bubble lights?)
  • Invite some musicians to play Christmas sheet music on guitar or piano.
  • Explore the history of the music box. Listen to favorite holiday melodies on Christmas music boxes.
  • Play the wartime tune “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” first recorded in 1943. Ask group members what the song meant to the troops and to their families during World War II.
  • Listen to the 1945 song “Let It Snow.” Cut out snowflake designs, make a snowman, shake snow globes. Name other holiday songs related to the outdoors, e.g., “Winter Wonderland.”
  • Listen to the song “Silver Bells,” and ask participants to count the number of times the word ‘ring’ is used in the song. (You may need to play the song several times.) Ring some Christmas bells.
  • Enjoy some old TV Christmas specials on DVD. (Suggestions: Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Andy Williams)
  • Listen to various recordings of “The Christmas Song,” first released by Nat King Cole in 1946. (Examples: Mel Tormé, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett) Vote on favorite rendition.
  • Sing the traditional Christmas hymn “Joy to the World.” Learn to say the word ‘joy’ in languages from around the world. (Examples: French — joie; Spanish — alegria) Talk about ways to spread joy during the holiday season.
  • Learn the story behind Saint Nicholas, the real person around whom the tradition of Santa Claus evolved. Sing some popular “Santa” songs. (Examples: “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”) Reminisce about gift-giving traditions in your family.
  • Watch the holiday movie White Christmas, which features the song by the same name and stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney.


  1. Which popular Christmas tune, sung by Bing Crosby, was composed by Irving Berlin? “White Christmas”
  2. Finish the title of this Christmas hymn: “Hark! The Herald Angels…” Sing.
  3. Who sings “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in the children’s TV special? Burl Ives
  4. What’s another name for “The Christmas Song”? [Hint: The name is also the first line of the song.] “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”
  5. Who composed the classical music masterpiece Messiah? George Frideric Handel
  6. According to the popular children’s song, Frosty the Snowman has two eyes made of what?Coal
  7. In “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” what gift is given on day four? Calling Birds
  8. Who sang the song “Blue Christmas”? Elvis Presley
  9. What’s the name of the fairy song in the Christmas ballet The Nutcracker? “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”
  10. Finish the song lyrics: “We wish you a merry Christmas and a…” Happy New Year

“HOLIDAY MUSIC MEMORIES” written by Sue Hansen. © 2010 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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