‘Tis the season to be jolly! If you’re ready to step into the spotlight at your next Christmas party, these are hands down, the best Christmas songs for guitar. You can play these 5 easy Christmas songs on an electric or acoustic guitar. For each song, LA-based pro guitarist Jamey Arent will perform it, then break it down in a step-by-step manner.
How to learn these beginner Christmas songs on guitar
As a beginner guitarist, it’s important to set yourself up for success when learning songs. Even though these are easy Christmas songs, it’s important to take your time with them and focus on developing proper technique.
Here are our top tips to keep in mind when you learn these songs:
- Start with the melody: These songs all have an iconic melody that’s a great starting point for learning. Start by getting comfortable with the melody, and the chordal aspect will be much easier to grasp.
- Get comfortable with each individual chord: Take note of which chords appear in the song, and make sure you can play and change between them before you try to play them in the context of the song.
- Start slow. This is counterintuitive, but trying to play a new song at speed will slow you down in the long run! Use a metronome and start playing verrrryyyy slow – you should be able to play through each section clearly while holding no tension in your body.
- Take it one chunk at a time. If you try to learn the full song at once, you’ll get really good at the beginning part, but the rest of the song will sound sloppy. Break each song into chunks, and you’ll have a much smoother learning process.
Ready to begin? Let’s get frosty.
1. An (extremely) easy Christmas song for beginners: “Oh Christmas Tree”
Let’s keep it stupid simple to start. As far as beginner Christmas songs for acoustic guitar go, this one takes the cake in terms of how easy it easy.
"Oh Christmas Tree" is a German Christmas song with the original title "O Tannenbaum", which translates to "O fir tree".
The song is based on a German folk tune from 1819 that used the long-lasting fir tree as a contrasting metaphor to the composer's ex-lover (because trees, unlike people, can't break up with you). It was originally completely unrelated to Christmas.
As Christmas trees became popular in the 19th century, the song was eventually appropriated by composer Ernst Anschütz in 1824 to spread holiday cheer.
In this stripped-down beginner arrangement of the song, you’ll learn how to play the melody.
"Oh Christmas Tree" - Video tutorial:
"Oh Christmas Tree" - TAB:
2. An iconic Christmas guitar song: “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”
Is this the best Christmas song to play on guitar? Our vote is yes.
We Wish You a Merry Christmas originated as a cheeky traditional English carol that dates back to the 16th century. Its exact origins are unknown, but the song was a creative way for poor carolers to ask for treats from the wealthy while caroling.
Ever heard of figgy pudding? Thank composer Arthur Warrell for that. He sparked its popularity when he published the tune in 1939.
This carol translates particularly well to an acoustic guitar Christmas song. this beginner acoustic arrangement, you'll learn a simple chord melody that’s built from easy-to-play open voicings.
"We Wish you a Merry Christmas" - Video tutorial:
"We Wish you a Merry Christmas" - TAB:
3. Easy Christmas chord melody: “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”
"Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" is a Christmas song that, in its current form, is based on a poem published in 1865 called "Lilly's Secret" by Emily Huntington Miller.
The song is about Santa Claus, who – despite all the haters and non-believers – is very real.
This beginner acoustic guitar version of the Christmas song will help you learn how to play the melody of the song and complement it with some simple chords.
"Jolly Old St. Nicholas" - Video tutorial:
Note: Scroll further down for the TAB!
Want to take the next step as a guitarist?
"Jolly Old St. Nicholas" - TAB:
4. The most iconic Christmas song for guitar: “Jingle Bells”
Break out your one-horse sleigh – it’s time to learn “Jingle Bells”.
The catchy carol “Jingle Bells” is a world-famous favorite. With no intentions of making it a Christmas song, James Lord Pierpont wrote the tune in 1857 with the title “The One Horse Open Sleigh”. Per the Medford Historical Society in Massachusetts, the song tells of the sleigh races held on Salem Street in the 1800s.
A few fun facts… James Lord Pierpont was the uncle to the famous financier J. P. Morgan (John Pierpont Morgan). More recently, in 1965, “Jingle Bells” was the first song to be broadcast from space!
This arrangement turns the tune into an easy guitar Christmas song that’s perfect for beginners. It features a simple chord melody with easy-to-play open voicings.
"Jingle Bells" - Video tutorial:
"Jingle Bells" - TAB:
5. Make it an acoustic guitar Christmas with “Joy to the World”
This iconic melody uses easy open guitar chords to craft a Christmas chord melody that’ll help beginner players usher in good holiday cheer.
“Joy to the World” is one of the most published Christmas hymns in North America. The lyrics, written by Isaac Watts in 1719, are based on a psalm and reference the second coming of Jesus.
In this beginner arrangement, you'll learn the melody and comp it with some basic chord shapes. Once you master this arrangement, challenge yourself with the intermediate version!
"Joy to the World" - Video tutorial:
"Joy to the World" - TAB:
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